Courtesy of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, you can easily move into unfamiliar territories without the worry of getting lost or having to stop to ask for directions from strangers. More importantly, GPS has been influential in preventing the loss of lives through accidents as well as helping in search and rescue missions as well as in speeding up delivery of emergency medical assistance services. Simply put, the technology is rivaled only by the internet in its application in mankind’s activities. However, there is a single flaw: its application as an indoor positioning system is quite challenging, sometimes impossible.
Just like in the outdoor environment, there are countless situations where indoor localization is essential. For instance, it would be a great help to fire fighters in their effort to find out the location of people trapped in a burning building. In addition, it is one of the most efficient tools used by shoppers to find their way around large shopping malls.
The use of WiFi in Indoor Navigation
The most popular version of GPS for indoors is the use of a working combination involving WiFi and radio receivers in a smartphone. However, the management of the building must have uploaded its indoor maps in order to achieve the analysis of the signals and their comparison with the data base of the establishment available online. In addition, there should be running of particular algorithms with the aim of calculating the location of the smartphone owner. Remember, however, that the main reason behind the use of WiFi in indoor navigation is the reduction of the large error margin that would have been experienced with the use of GPS. That does not mean that there are no errors with WiFi and, therefore, there is need to find an alternative if more precision is required.
Reducing the Limitations of WiFi Application
Like GPS, the use of WiFi in indoor localization has some limitations. Keep in mind that not all buildings have WiFi facilities. Even if they are available, they can easily be damaged by a fire and thus it would be no use for firefighters to use them to find the location of people trapped in the burning building.
In the quest to find a solution to some of these problems, the US Department of Homeland Security has developed new technology coming in three different devices: Geospatial Location Accountability and Navigation System for Emergency Responders (GLANSER), Physiological Health Assessment System for Emergency Responders (PHASER) and Wireless Intelligent Sensor Platform for Emergency Responders(WISPER). A combination of the three enables efficient communication of firefighters even in high temperature levels and in the event of destruction of blockage of some of the routers as long as the others are in proper working conditions.
Technological innovators are tirelessly researching, developing, and designing new, more efficient ways of indoor navigation. Their work mainly involves eliminating the limitations of the available technology. There is a lot to be done, especially in achievement of more precision as well as prolonging the life of the batteries and ensuring better portability of the indoor localization equipment. Hopefully, the barriers contributing to the signal weakness of GPS for indoors navigation will also be completely eliminated in future.