Indoor positioning without GPS / GNSS

Indoor positioning without GPS / GNSS has its benefits. Its helps to get a position, where no GPS / GNSS signal can be received. It also can be used as a backbone for GPS / GNSS. Nevertheless it can be cheaper.

Indoor Positioning Alliance In-Location

In August 2012 the Indoor Positioning Alliance was founded. It has 22 members (e.g. Nordic Semiconductor, Samsung, Nokia) and names the positing by Bluetooth Low Energy (BT 4.0, BT Smart) and WLAN. Remember that a Bluetooth 4.0 Proximity Tag or Advertising Beacon can transmit a coin cell battery for years. A dream comes real. Indoor Postioning Alliance .

People spend 87% offer the time indoor

The article and the graph by Nokia shows that there is a need for indoor positioning. Humans live indoor and indoor GPS or other satellite based navigation and locating does not work. Even if you get a GPS fix, you have a poor accuracy in 3D. It is impossible to tell the floor by GPS locating only.

Indoor positioning by Bluetooth Low Energy

Bluetooth Low Energy also called Bluetooth 4.0 was renamed to Bluetooth Smart and Bluetooth Smart ready in September 2011. The Motorola Razr Droid is the first Android phone with support of Bluetooth Low Energy / Bluetooth Smart Ready. A device lot a smart phone or tablet with support ot Bluetooth Low energy is called a Bluetooth Smart Ready device. Accesories like a heart beat belt or a proximity tag are called Bluetooth Smart devices.

Where am I? Inside a large building such as an airport terminal Bluetooth low energy tags could be placed in strategic locations to inform cell phone-equipped passengers of their location. More about indoor positing at airport

Bluetooth Low Energy Proximity Tag Reference Design

The application is based on a system on chip. Micro controller, memory, oscillators and the I/O channels are on the same integrated circuit. The certificated Bluetooth Low Energy Stack is running on the chip as well. More about the Bluetooth Low Energy Proximity Tag reference Design.

Indoor locating by Microsoft’s human antenna

Microsoft showed that electromagnetic noise can be used to identify the position of a person in a room, what the person is doing, and even where a hand is placed on a wall. Microsofts vision is to dim the light – my vision is AAL (Ambient Assitet Living) . More about here: concept with Microsoft’s human antenna in AAL

Indoor positioning by WIFI 802.11b

WIFI 802.11b is use to detect change in position of one meter or even less
Today I can help with WIFI locating on WIFI 802.11n in Cisco WIFI networks. There are ready to use tags, but there are WIFI modules that support this feature too. With such a WIFI module and laptop, PDA, tablet or even a forg lift can be located.

Indoor positioning by Bluetooth 2.1

Research on positioning systems and context-aware applications are being performed in the Alipes project at CDT, Lule University of Technology, Sweden. An evaluation of Bluetooth as a possible technology for positioning was performed during autumn of 2001 in this project.

Indoor positioning by Batman

Batman´s technology in use to see trough walls. Will Gotham City become reality? Is Batman´s technology not science fiction any-more?

Indoor positioning by GSM / GPRS / 3G In year 2000  I was the leader of a development team to locate salesmen of tickets at the World Trade Show EXPO 2000 in Hanover, Germany, indoor. We protected the salesmen of the tickets of the gondola train. After a short period they had always thousands of Euro´s in their pocket.

Indoor positioning by active RFID

Open source location tracking project using OpenBeacon tags and OpenBeacon firmware which transmits beacon packets. Such packets can then be received by OpenBeacon  base stations in the vicinity. Signals received by one or more base stations can then be used to estimate the position of the tag.

Everybody who is interested in positioning is welcome to subscribe to this Blog by RSS or email (left upper corner). Right now I have capacities for studies and development of prototypes and final products and services left. Behind me are a lot of long term business partners with knowledge and experience in wireless M2M.
Everybody can reach me easy by email to harald.naumann (at) or by using the form and ask for a concept, study, development up to mass production. It could be an one stop buying including dedicated support.


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  1. thanks Harald, it is quite useful.

  2. Hi Usman, thanks for feedback. The orign blog post about indoor positioning I have published month ago. I just made an update. Further updates will follow soon.

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  4. Hi,

    How accurate is the openbeacon technology for indoor positioning? I am looking at accuracy levels of under 15cms?


  5. Please find another close the same messages or questions on BLE indoor localisation to me as below. I get the question again and again at least once a month. It is time for a block post on this topic.

    What is the recommended way to implement BLE beacons to perform indoor localisation?
    What is the preferred algorithm for iBeacons to perform user localisation? Fingerprint based? Triangulation based?
    How can you triangulate a phone’s exact location in a restaurant with only a few beacons?
    I would like to talk to you about BLE tracking. I have been working on a project for a while and running into walls
    We are a team of 5 people who are interested in the concept of proximity messaging and we are interested in developing a Mobile App in IOS and Android so that Consumers can benefit from the offers which retailers will be offering them by proximity messaging while they are in their stores
    We are working on a project where location Accuracy is critical for our product. I have looked through your articles on Low Energy BT for triangulation. Specifically, we are having problems in Urban Canyon environments. Do you have any articles/ideas that will provide the high level of location accuracy in these environments? Please send me any relevant info.

    Triangulation on BLE is impossible because on 2400 MHz you will have a lot of reflections, multipath plus phase shift. If you would like to make a study, then just order a kit with 5 BLE beacons for estimated Euro 50 including free of charge app for iOS and Android. After that, you place the 5 beacon or even more in a room with no people inside. Put your smartphone on a trolley and move it around. The measured field strength you write in an Excel table. After that, you make the same test with 5 beacons and 5 people and put the BLE beacon in their pockets. Let the people turn in steps of 15 degrees and measure it the field strength again. The human body is mainly water and the resonance frequency of water is in the near of 2400 MHz. Remember that your microwave oven is operating in the 2400 MHz frequency range for that reason.
    The third test could be to measure the field strength of 5 beacons in front of you at 5 different places. Just walk in steps of one-meter closer to the beacons and write the measured field strength in a table. The result will be that the field strength will maybe decrease even when you are moving closer to the beacon. The reason is multipath and phase shift. Another result will be that the field strength will not increase linearly. This is based on multipath phase shift as well.

    Fingerprinting will need a reference. However fingerprinting is not immune against multipath and phase shift as well. If you change the smartphone, the place in your pocket change then the signal loss with change as well. Fingerprinting will help to get a better result, but not accurate enough to generate a position on meter level. The fingerprinting will run better if you place BLE beacons in the room and measure the field strength with another beacon. A beacon to beacon communication will help with more accurate data than a beacon to smartphone communication. There are some further algorithms that you can use for optimising the calculation of the position, but this you can’t do by using smartphones on BLE only.

    A detection on room level is possible. If you add Kalman filters and some more sources like the magnetic field of the earth, accelerometers or even ultrasonic sound then the result will be much better than on BLE beacons only.

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