7 March 2013
The inside track to safety
Cambridge Consultants unveils cost-effective and accurate indoor locator system
New technology from innovative product development firm Cambridge Consultants can accurately detect someone’s location indoors when GPS drops out. A number of sensors and a custom algorithm determine the location, with an accuracy of within approximately 1% of the distance travelled. Yet the technology uses low-power, low-cost sensors and the device concept is small enough to clip on a belt. It also doesn’t need any existing internal infrastructure.
“We are excited about the many possibilities this cutting-edge technology opens up and the impact it can have in many different situations,” said Geoff Smithson, technology director, sensing systems, at Cambridge Consultants. “It could be used to help locate firefighters in smoke-filled buildings, for example, or to pinpoint the closest doctor in a hospital during an emergency – or to track offenders during home curfews. We are just starting to see the potential of this approach and the diverse demand for this type of low-energy, highly accurate system.”
Indoor tracking systems which process data from one or more sources of location information to estimate where a person or object is located are not new. But they often rely on RF signals from wi-fi access points or custom infrastructure, poor-quality GPS signals or expensive, high-quality sensors. The availability of low-cost smartphone components – including accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers and pressure sensors – has enabled a new generation of location devices and applications, when combined with a tailored Bayesian algorithm to fuse the information.
The new technology platform can be embedded in an existing design or operate as a stand-alone unit, with options to compute the location locally or transmit the information to a remote system which can process the data before visualising it on a smartphone app.
“Our biggest challenges were developing an algorithm which optimally combines the data from GPS and the other sensors, and overcoming the issues of using such low-cost sensors in a system without any absolute location reference,” said Smithson.
Cambridge Consultants specialises in developing low-cost, low-power connected devices for clients – with a team of experts with sensing, wireless and software engineering expertise. The latest technology builds on the company’s location and tracking systems experience in a variety of market sectors ranging from defence and security to consumer, industrial, and oil and gas.
Cambridge Consultants develops breakthrough products, creates and licenses intellectual property, and provides business consultancy in technology-critical issues for clients worldwide. For more than 50 years, the company has been helping its clients turn business opportunities into commercial successes, whether they are launching first-to-market products, entering new markets or expanding existing markets through the introduction of new technologies. With a team of more than 550 staff, including engineers, scientists, mathematicians and designers, in offices in Cambridge (UK), Boston (USA) and Singapore, Cambridge Consultants offers solutions across a diverse range of industries including medical technology, industrial and consumer products, digital health, oil and gas, and wireless communications.
Cambridge Consultants is part of Altran, a global leader in innovation and high-tech engineering consulting which offers its clients a new way to innovate. The Group develops with, or for, its clients the products and services of tomorrow. Altran works along with its clients on every link in the value chain of their project, from conception to industrialisation. With a staff of nearly 26,000 employees in more than 20 countries, the Group generated revenues of €1.945bn in 2015. For more information, visit: www.altran.com
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