How important is Accuracy in Indoor Positioning?
There are many existing articles that compares various Indoor Positioning Technologies with regards to their Accuracy, Cost, etc. But few of them relates back to the actual business applications, operations or use cases. This post aims to address the point above, and why is Accuracy an important factor for Indoor Positioning.
But first, we would like to briefly discuss the recent advancement for Indoor Positioning using Bluetooth technology.
Since the introduction of the recent Bluetooth Low Energy 5.1 Angle of Arrival technology (BLE 5.1 AoA), Bluetooth has progressed another step towards Ultra-wideband (UWB) level of positioning accuracy.
BLE 5.1 AoA provides a positioning accuracy of <1m by utilizing the Angle of Arrival positioning algorithm. This opens up new doors to businesses that requires a sub-meter kind of positioning accuracy for their operations. BLE 5.1 AoA is a cheaper and much more energy-friendly alternative to UWB in the sub-meter positioning accuracy field.
If we look at the existing use cases for UWB technology:
UWB offers highly precise positioning, even in crowded, multipath signal environments, and can pass through walls, machinery, and other obstacles. As a result, UWB makes it easier to navigate large spaces, such as airports and shopping malls, and makes it easier to find your car in a multi-story parking garage.FiRa Consortium
Most of the use cases revolves around navigating spaces or locating assets in large environments, which are perfect scenarios to employ the BLE 5.1 AoA technology. Some of these business use cases are less critical, so the positioning accuracy can be compromised as long as the final result is acceptable.
However, for use cases where time is a crucial factor e.g. emergency evacuation of a manufacturing plant, we need to know the exact location of every personnel to evacuate those who are still within the premise in real time. As such, a sub-meter kind of positioning accuracy is required for indoor tracking of the personnel or assets.
Most companies understand that they cannot put a price on Safety. Investing in Safety is the best financial decision a company can make (Blanchard, 2019), hence the demand for high accuracy positioning systems.
In addition to Safety, Indoor Positioning Accuracy also matters for operations productivity. Simply put, time is money. The faster a worker finishes his current task, the more task he can finish within his working hours. If an Indoor Positioning system with lower Accuracy is employed to track assets, workers may take a longer time to locate the assets to perform their work. Whereas an Indoor Positioning system that provides a better Accuracy can help them to accurately locate the assets in a shorter time frame.
Asides from Safety and Productivity, there is another simple reason for employ certain degrees of accuracy for your Indoor Positioning requirements. That is the size of your asset. If your asset is large in dimension, you will be able to find your asset even with lower positioning accuracy. Higher accuracy will be needed to locate smaller, much harder to find assets.
Refer to the GIF below to understand the Accuracy provided in real time in tracking assets using BLE 5.1 AoA.
To sum things up, Accuracy for Indoor Positioning is as important as how much you value your operations. If you feel that the dollar can be spend on something else, zonal tracking solutions may be more fitting for you. Otherwise, a pinpoint tracking solution such as the BLE 5.1 AoA is worth investing for it can bring about improvement for Safety and Productivity.