Open main menu

Wikipedia β

An indoor positioning system (IPS) is a system to locate objects or people inside a building using radio waves, magnetic fields, acoustic signals, or other sensory information collected by mobile devices.[1] There are several commercial systems on the market, but there is no standard for an IPS system.

IPSes use different technologies, including distance measurement to nearby anchor nodes (nodes with known positions, e.g., WiFi access points), magnetic positioning, dead reckoning. They either actively locate mobile devices and tags or provide ambient location or environmental context for devices to get sensed.[2]

The localized nature of an IPS has resulted in design fragmentation, with systems making use of various optical,[3] radio,[4][5][6][7][8] or even acoustic[9] technologies.

System designs must take into account that at least three independent measurements are needed to unambiguously find a location (see trilateration). For smoothing to compensate for stochastic (unpredictable) errors there must be a sound method for reducing the error budget significantly. The system might include information from other systems to cope for physical ambiguity and to enable error compensation.

Detecting the device's orientation (often referred to as the compass direction in order to disambiguate it from smartphone vertical orientation) can be achieved either by detecting landmarks inside images taken in real time, or by using trilateration with beacons.[10] There also exist technologies for detecting magnenometric information inside buildings or locations with steel structures or in iron ore mines.[11]


Applicability and precisionEdit

Due to the signal attenuation caused by construction materials, the satellite based Global Positioning System (GPS) loses significant power indoors affecting the required coverage for receivers by at least four satellites. In addition, the multiple reflections at surfaces cause multi-path propagation serving for uncontrollable errors. These very same effects are degrading all known solutions for indoor locating which uses electromagnetic waves from indoor transmitters to indoor receivers. A bundle of physical and mathematical methods are applied to compensate for these problems. Promising direction radiofrequency positioning error correction opened by the use of alternative sources of navigational information, such as inertial measurement unit (IMU), monocular camera Simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) and WiFi SLAM. Integration of data from various navigation systems with different physical principles can increase the accuracy and robustness of the overall solution.[12]

Relation to GPSEdit

Global navigation satellite systems (GPS or GNSS) are generally not suitable to establish indoor locations, since microwaves will be attenuated and scattered by roofs, walls and other objects. However, in order to make positioning signals ubiquitous, integration between GPS and indoor positioning can be made.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21]

Currently, GNSS receivers are becoming more and more sensitive due to increasing microchip processing power. High Sensitivity GNSS receivers are able to receive satellite signals in most indoor environments and attempts to determine the 3D position indoors have been successful.[22] Besides increasing the sensitivity of the receivers, the technique of A-GPS is used, where the almanac and other information are transferred through a mobile phone.

However, proper coverage for the required four satellites to locate a receiver is not achieved with all current designs (2008–11) for indoor operations. Beyond, the average error budget for GNSS systems normally is much larger than the confinements, in which the locating shall be performed.

Locating and positioningEdit

While most current IPS are able to detect the location of an object, they are so coarse that they cannot be used to detect the orientation or direction of an object.[23]

Locating and trackingEdit

One of the methods to thrive for sufficient operational suitability is "tracking[disambiguation needed]". Whether a sequence of locations determined form a trajectory from the first to the most actual location. Statistical methods then serve for smoothing the locations determined in a track resembling the physical capabilities of the object to move. This smoothing must be applied, when a target moves and also for a resident target, to compensate erratic measures. Otherwise the single resident location or even the followed trajectory would compose of an itinerant sequence of jumps.

Identification and segregationEdit

In most applications the population of targets is larger than just one. Hence the IPS must serve a proper specific identification for each observed target and must be capable to segregate and separate the targets individually within the group. An IPS must be able to identify the entities being tracked, despite the "non-interesting" neighbors. Depending on the design, either a sensor network must know from which tag it has received information, or a locating device must be able to identify the targets directly.

Non-radio technologiesEdit

Non-radio technologies can be used for positioning without using the existing wireless infrastructure. This can provide increased accuracy at the expense of costly equipment and installations.

Magnetic positioningEdit

Magnetic positioning can offer pedestrians with smartphones an indoor accuracy of 1–2 meters with 90% confidence level, without using the additional wireless infrastructure for positioning. Magnetic positioning is based on the iron inside buildings that create local variations in the Earth's magnetic field. Un-optimized compass chips inside smartphones can sense and record these magnetic variations to map indoor locations.[24]

Inertial measurementsEdit

Pedestrian dead reckoning and other approaches for positioning of pedestrians propose an inertial measurement unit carried by the pedestrian either by measuring steps indirectly (step counting) or in a foot mounted approach,[25] sometimes referring to maps or other additional sensors to constrain the inherent sensor drift encountered with inertial navigation. However, in order to make it capable to build map itself, the SLAM algorithm framework [26] will be used.[27][28] [29]

Inertial measures generally cover the differentials of motion, hence the location gets determined with integrating and thus requires integration constants to provide results.[30][31] The actual position estimation can be found as the maximum of a 2-d probability distribution which is recomputed at each step taking into account the noise model of all the sensors involved and the constraints posed by walls and furniture.[32]

Positioning based on visual markersEdit

A visual positioning system can determine the location of a camera-enabled mobile device by decoding location coordinates from visual markers. In such a system, markers are placed at specific locations throughout a venue, each marker encoding that location's coordinates: latitude, longitude and height off the floor. Measuring the visual angle from the device to the marker enables the device to estimate its own location coordinates in reference to the marker. Coordinates include latitude, longitude, level and altitude off the floor.[33]

Location based on known visual featuresEdit

A collection of successive snapshots from a mobile device's camera can build a database of images that is suitable for estimating location in a venue. Once the database is built, a mobile device moving through the venue can take snapshots that can be interpolated into the venue's database, yielding location coordinates. These coordinates can be used in conjunction with other location techniques for higher accuracy. Note that this can be a special case of sensor fusion where a camera plays the role of yet another sensor.

Wireless technologiesEdit

Any wireless technology can be used for locating. Many different systems take advantage of existing wireless infrastructure for indoor positioning. There are three primary system topology options for hardware and software configuration, network-based, terminal-based, and terminal-assisted. Positioning accuracy can be increased at the expense of wireless infrastructure equipment and installations.

Wi-Fi-based positioning system (WPS)Edit

Wi-Fi positioning system (WPS) is used where GPS is inadequate. The localization technique used for positioning with wireless access points is based on measuring the intensity of the received signal (received signal strength in English RSS) and the method of "fingerprinting".[34][35][36] Typical parameters useful to geolocate the WiFi hotspot or wireless access point include the SSID and the MAC address of the access point. The accuracy depends on the number of positions that have been entered into the database. The possible signal fluctuations that may occur can increase errors and inaccuracies in the path of the user. Anyplace[37] is a free and open-source Wi-Fi positioning system that allows anybody to rapidly map indoor spaces and that won several awards for its location accuracy.[38][39]


According to the Bluetooth Special Interest Group,[40] Bluetooth is all about proximity, not about exact location. Bluetooth was not intended to offer a pinned location like GPS, however is known as a geo-fence or micro-fence solution which makes it an indoor proximity solution, not an indoor positioning solution. Micromapping and indoor mapping[41] has been linked to Bluetooth[42] and to the Bluetooth LE based iBeacon promoted by Apple Inc.. Large-scale indoor positioning system based on iBeacons has been implemented and applied in practice.[43][44]

Choke point conceptsEdit

Simple concept of location indexing and presence reporting for tagged objects, uses known sensor identification only.[7] This is usually the case with passive radio-frequency identification (RFID) systems, which do not report the signal strengths and various distances of single tags or of a bulk of tags and do not renew any before known location coordinates of the sensor or current location of any tags. Operability of such approaches requires some narrow passage to prevent from passing by out of range.

Grid conceptsEdit

Instead of long range measurement, a dense network of low-range receivers may be arranged, e.g. in a grid pattern for economy, throughout the space being observed. Due to the low range, a tagged entity will be identified by only a few close, networked receivers. An identified tag must be within range of the identifying reader, allowing a rough approximation of the tag location. Advanced systems combine visual coverage with a camera grid with the wireless coverage for the rough location.

Long range sensor conceptsEdit

Most systems use a continuous physical measurement (such as angle and distance or distance only) along with the identification data in one combined signal. Reach by these sensors mostly covers an entire floor, or an aisle or just a single room. Short reach solutions get applied with multiple sensors and overlapping reach.

Angle of arrivalEdit

Angle of arrival (AoA) is the angle from which a signal arrives at a receiver. AoA is usually determined by measuring the time difference of arrival (TDOA) between multiple antennas in a sensor array. In other receivers, it is determined by an array of highly directional sensors—the angle can be determined by which sensor received the signal. AoA is usually used with triangulation and a known base line to find the location relative to two anchor transmitters.

Time of arrivalEdit

Time of arrival (ToA, also time of flight) is the amount of time a signal takes to propagate from transmitter to receiver. Because the signal propagation rate is constant and known (ignoring differences in mediums) the travel time of a signal can be used to directly calculate distance. Multiple measurements can be combined with trilateration and multilateration to find a location. This is the technique used by GPS. Systems which use ToA, generally require a complicated synchronization mechanism to maintain a reliable source of time for sensors (though this can be avoided in carefully designed systems by using repeaters to establish coupling[8]).

The accuracy of the TOA based methods often suffers from massive multipath conditions in indoor localization, which is caused by the reflection and diffraction of the RF signal from objects (e.g., interior wall, doors or furniture) in the environment. However, it is possible to reduce the effect of multipath by applying temporal or spatial sparsity based techniques.[45] [46]

Received signal strength indicationEdit

Received signal strength indication (RSSI) is a measurement of the power level received by sensor. Because radio waves propagate according to the inverse-square law, distance can be approximated based on the relationship between transmitted and received signal strength (the transmission strength is a constant based on the equipment being used), as long as no other errors contribute to faulty results. The inside of buildings is not free space, so accuracy is significantly impacted by reflection and absorption from walls. Non-stationary objects such as doors, furniture, and people can pose an even greater problem, as they can affect the signal strength in dynamic, unpredictable ways.

A lot of systems use enhanced Wi-Fi infrastructure to provide location information.[4][5][6] None of these systems serves for proper operation with any infrastructure as is. Unfortunately, Wi-Fi signal strength measurements are extremely noisy, so there is ongoing research focused on making more accurate systems by using statistics to filter out the inaccurate input data. Wi-Fi Positioning Systems are sometimes used outdoors as a supplement to GPS on mobile devices, where only few erratic reflections disturb the results.



Once sensor data has been collected, an IPS tries to determine the location from which the received transmission was most likely collected. The data from a single sensor is generally ambiguous and must be resolved by a series of statistical procedures to combine several sensor input streams.

Empirical methodEdit

One way to determine position is to match the data from the unknown location with a large set of known locations using an algorithm such as k-nearest neighbor. This technique requires a comprehensive on-site survey and will be inaccurate with any significant change in the environment (due to moving persons or moved objects).

Mathematical modelingEdit

Location will be calculated mathematically by approximating signal propagation and finding angles and / or distance. Inverse trigonometry will then be used to determine location:

Advanced systems combine more accurate physical models with statistical procedures:


The major consumer benefit of indoor positioning is the expansion of location-aware mobile computing indoors. As mobile devices become ubiquitous, contextual awareness for applications has become a priority for developers. Most applications currently rely on GPS, however, and function poorly indoors. Applications benefiting from indoor location include:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Kevin Curran, Eoghan Furey, Tom Lunney, Jose Santos, Derek Woods and Aiden Mc Caughey (2011) An Evaluation of Indoor Location Determination Technologies. Journal of Location Based Services Vol. 5, No. 2, pp: 61-78, June 2011, ISSN 1748-9725, doi:10.1080/17489725.2011.562927, Taylor & Francis
  2. ^ Eoghan Furey, Kevin Curran and Paul Mc Kevitt (2012) HABITS: A Bayesian Filter Approach to Indoor Tracking and Location. International Journal of Bio-Inspired Computation (IJBIC) Vol. 4, No. 2, pp: 79-88, ISSN 1758-0366, doi:10.1504/IJBIC.2012.047178, InderScience
  3. ^ a b Liu X, Makino H, Mase K. 2010. Improved indoor location estimation using fluorescent light communication system with a nine-channel receiver. IEICE Transactions on Communications E93-B(11):2936-44.
  4. ^ a b Chang N, Rashidzadeh R, Ahmadi M. 2010. Robust indoor positioning using differential Wi-Fi access points. IEEE Transactions on Consumer Electronics 56(3):1860-7.
  5. ^ a b c Chiou Y, Wang C, Yeh S. 2010. An adaptive location estimator using tracking algorithms for indoor WLANs. Wireless Networks 16(7):1987-2012.
  6. ^ a b Lim H, Kung L, Hou JC, Luo Haiyun. 2010. Zero-configuration indoor localization over IEEE 802.11 wireless infrastructure. Wireless Networks 16(2):405-20.
  7. ^ a b c Reza AW, Geok TK. 2009. Investigation of indoor location sensing via RFID reader network utilizing grid covering algorithm. Wireless Personal Communications 49(1):67-80.
  8. ^ a b c Zhou Y, Law CL, Guan YL, Chin F. 2011. Indoor elliptical localization based on asynchronous UWB range measurement. IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement 60(1):248-57
  9. ^ a b Schweinzer H, Kaniak G. 2010. Ultrasonic device localization and its potential for wireless sensor network security. Control Engineering Practice 18(8):852-62.
  10. ^ Positioning and orientation using image processing a 2007 research from the University of Washington. Several similar approaches have been developed and there are currently (2017) smartphone applications implementing this technology.
  11. ^ Startup uses a smartphone to track people indoors, - About Indoor Atlass (MIT Technology Review website)
  12. ^ Vladimir Maximov and Oleg Tabarovsky, LLC RTLS, Moscow, Russia (2013). Survey of Accuracy Improvement Approaches for Tightly Coupled ToA/IMU Personal Indoor Navigation System. Proceedings of International Conference on Indoor Positioning and Indoor Navigation, October 2013, Montbeliard, France.See publication here
  13. ^ Wan Mohd Yaakob Wan Bejuri, Mohd Murtadha Mohamad and Maimunah Sapri (2011). Ubiquitous Positioning: A Taxonomy for Location Determination on Mobile Navigation System. Signal & Image Processing: An International Journal.Vol 2: No.1,pp: 24-34. See publication here
  14. ^ Wan Mohd Yaakob Wan Bejuri, Mohd Murtadha Mohamad and Raja Zahilah (2015). Offline Beacon Selection-Based RSSI Fingerprinting for Location-Aware Shopping Assistance: A Preliminary Result. New Trends in Intelligent Information and Database Systems, pp. 303-312, See publication here
  15. ^ Wan Mohd Yaakob Wan Bejuri, Mohd Murtadha Mohamad and Raja Zahilah (2015). Emergency Rescue Localization (ERL) using GPS, Wireless LAN and Camera. International Journal of Software Engineering and Its Applications, Vol. 9, No. 9, pp. 217-232,
  16. ^ Wan Mohd Yaakob Wan Bejuri and Mohd Murtadha Mohamad (2014). Performance Analysis of Grey-World-based Feature Detection and Matching for Mobile Positioning Systems. Sensing and Imaging, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 1-24, See publication here
  17. ^ Wan Mohd Yaakob Wan Bejuri and Mohd Murtadha Mohamad (2014). Wireless LAN/FM Radio-based Robust Mobile Indoor Positioning: An Initial Outcome. International Journal of Software Engineering and Its Applications, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 313-324,
  18. ^ Wan Mohd Yaakob Wan Bejuri, Mohd Murtadha Mohamad, Maimunah Sapri, Mohd Shafry Mohd Rahim, Junaid Ahsenali Chaudry (2014). Performance Evaluation of Spatial Correlation-based Feature Detection and Matching for Automated Wheelchair Navigation System. International Journal of Intelligent Transportation Systems Research, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 9-19, See publication here
  19. ^ Wan Mohd Yaakob Wan Bejuri, Wan Mohd Nasri Wan Muhamad Saidin, Mohd Murtadha Mohamad, Maimunah Sapri and Kah Seng Lim (2013). Ubiquitous Positioning: Integrated GPS/Wireless LAN Positioning for Wheelchair Navigation System. Intelligent Information and Database Systems, Vol. 7802, pp. 394-403, See publication here
  20. ^ Wan Mohd Yaakob Wan Bejuri, Mohd Murtadha Mohamad, Maimunah Sapri and Mohd Adly Rosly (2012). Ubiquitous WLAN/Camera Positioning using Inverse Intensity Chromaticity Space-based Feature Detection and Matching: A Preliminary Result. International Conference on Man-Machine Systems 2012 (ICOMMS 2012). See publication here
  21. ^ Z. Horvath, H. Horvath (2014): The Measurement Preciseness of the GPS Built in Smartphones and Tablets, International Journal on Electronics and Communication Technology, issue 1, pp 17-19, [1]
  22. ^ GNSS Indoors — Fighting The Fading Inside GNSS
  23. ^ Eoghan Furey, Kevin Curran and Paul Mc Kevitt (2012) Probabilistic Indoor Human Movement Modeling to Aid First Responders. Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Humanized Computing Vol. 3, No. 4, ISSN 1868-5137, doi:10.1007/s12652-012-0112-4, Springer
  24. ^
  25. ^ NavShoe
  26. ^ Simultaneous localization and mapping
  27. ^ Wan Mohd Yaakob Wan Bejuri, Mohd Murtadha Mohamad, Raja Zahilah (2015). A Proposal of Emergency Rescue Location (ERL) using Optimization of Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) based Pedestrian Simultaneously Localization and Mapping (SLAM). International Journal of Smart Home. Vol 9: No.12, pp: 9-22.
  28. ^ Wan Mohd Yaakob Wan Bejuri, Mohd Murtadha Mohamad, Raja Zahilah (2015). Optimisation of Emergency Rescue Location (ERL) using KLD Resampling: An Initial Proposal. International Journal of u- and e- Service, Science and Technology. Vol 9: No.2, pp: 249-262.
  29. ^ Wan Mohd Yaakob Wan Bejuri, Mohd Murtadha Mohamad, Raja Zahilah (2015). Optimization of Rao-Blackwellized Particle Filter in Activity Pedestrian Simultaneously Localization and Mapping (SLAM): An Initial Proposal. International Journal of Security and Its Applications. Vol 9: No.11, pp: 377-390.
  30. ^ Sensor fusion and map aiding for indoor navigation
  31. ^ Pedestrian localization for indoor environments
  32. ^ Infrastructure-free indoor navigation: a case study
  33. ^ Roberto Michel, (2016) Information Management: Wearables come in for a refit, Modern Materials Handling, Retrieved Dec 28, 2016. [2]
  34. ^ P. Bahl and V. N. Padmanabhan, “RADAR: an in-building RF-based user location and tracking system,” in Proceedings of 19th Annual Joint Conference of the IEEE Computer and Communications Societies (INFOCOM ’00), vol. 2, pp. 775–784, Tel Aviv.Israel, March 2000.
  35. ^ Youssef, Moustafa; Agrawala, Ashok (2007-01-04). "The Horus location determination system". Wireless Networks. 14 (3): 357–374. ISSN 1022-0038. doi:10.1007/s11276-006-0725-7. 
  36. ^ Y. Chen and H. Kobayashi, “Signal strength based indoor geolocation,” in Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Communications (ICC ’02), vol. 1, pp. 436–439, New York, NY, USA, April–May 2002.
  37. ^ Anyplace - A free and open Indoor Navigation Service with superb accuracy.
  38. ^ Y. Chen and H. Kobayashi, “Dimitrios Lymberopoulos, Jie Liu, Xue Yang, Romit Roy Choudhury, Vlado Handziski, and Souvik Sen. 2015. A realistic evaluation and comparison of indoor location technologies: experiences and lessons learned. In Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Information Processing in Sensor Networks (IPSN '15). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 178-189. DOI=10.1145/2737095.2737726
  39. ^ C. Laoudias, G. Constantinou, M. Constantinides, S. Nicolaou, D. Zeinalipour-Yazti, C. G. Panayiotou, "The Airplace Indoor Positioning Platform for Android Smartphones", 13th IEEE International Conference on Mobile Data Management (MDM), 2012, pp. 312-315, 23–26 July 2012, doi:10.1109/MDM.2012.68 (Best Demo Award)
  40. ^ "Everything You Always Wanted To Know about Beacons". Bright Talk. Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  41. ^ "Apple Is Launching A Vast Project To Map The Inside Of Every Large Building It Can". Business Insider. Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  42. ^ "Apple Inc. iBeacon with Micromapping can revolutionize retail". ValueWalk. Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  43. ^ "Music City Center Unveil Wayfinding App". Retrieved 2014-11-28. 
  44. ^ "Music City Center app guides visitors". Retrieved 2014-11-28. 
  45. ^ Pourhomayoun; Jin; Fowler (2012). "Spatial Sparsity Based Indoor Localization in Wireless Sensor Network for Assistive Healthcare Systems" (PDF). Embc2012. 
  46. ^ C.R. Comsa, et al.,“Source Localization Using Time Difference Of Arrival Within A Sparse Representation Framework”, ICASSP, , 2011.
  47. ^ Lee, Yong Up; Kavehrad, Mohsen; , "Long-range indoor hybrid localization system design with visible light communications and wireless network," Photonics Society Summer Topical Meeting Series, 2012 IEEE , vol., no., pp.82-83, 9–11 July 2012 See publication here
  48. ^ Bai, Y; Jia, W; Zhang, H; Mao, Z. H.; Sun, M (2014). "2014 12th International Conference on Signal Processing (ICSP)". International conference on signal processing proceedings. International Conference on Signal Processing. 2014: 678–681. ISBN 978-1-4799-2186-7. PMC 4512241 . PMID 26213718. doi:10.1109/ICOSP.2014.7015087.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  49. ^
  50. ^
  51. ^ a b
  52. ^ a b c d e f g
  53. ^
  54. ^
  55. ^
  56. ^
  57. ^
  58. ^
  59. ^
  60. ^ Qiu, C.; Mutka, M. W. (2015-10-01). "AirLoc: Mobile Robots Assisted Indoor Localization". 2015 IEEE 12th International Conference on Mobile Ad Hoc and Sensor Systems (MASS): 407–415. ISBN 978-1-4673-9101-6. doi:10.1109/MASS.2015.10. 

External linksEdit