Indoor Sensor Allows Navigation Inside Buildings

You may not have any problems finding a building in a busy city via the GPS receiver in your handset, but it won’t be helpful once you step inside one. How will you find the elevator or the bathroom or the fire exit? This problem could soon be a thing of the past all thanks to a new system, called the MST-Smartsense Sensor, from Fraunhofer which uses simple sensors to enable in-building navigation. They have introduced a tiny module that could work with tablets and smartphones.

All you have to do is enter the building and scan a QR code, and your current position will be displayed on your mobile device. When you start moving around, the system’s built-in pedometer and compass will determine your speed and direction. No GPS required here as it can tell your location based on stride length.

These include an acceleration sensor that registers the motion of the body, and a magnetic field sensor that measures the alignment of the body through its position in relation to the earth‘s magnetic field. In tandem, they map a highly precise movement pattern. “Sensor fusion” is the term von Rosenberg uses to refer to such intelligent coupling of multiple sensors. The fascinating thing is that the module does not have to be calibrated by the user. On its own, it detects if the individual has long legs, or is just taking baby steps.

The system comes equipped with its own processor and needs less power to work. But the same feature could be made available via a modern mobile device provided it has a built-in pedometer. But do you really need such a system to find your way around in a building? It certainly would be very useful for those of you who have a tendency to get lost in big indoor locations like malls.


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