Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

GPS for interior spaces: Navigating the shopping center

Date:
May 11, 2012
Source:
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Summary:
With a GPS receiver in your smartphone, you can navigate your way over highways and streets with certainty. But once you get inside a building, it provides no further assistance. That’s why researchers have engineered a navigation system for interior spaces. Thanks to a clever combination of sensors, the module tracks the movements and position of its user in precise detail.

The virtual 3-D interior model of the building is displayed on the monitor. The location and the distance covered are marked in the map.
Credit: Fraunhofer IPA

With a GPS receiver in your smartphone, you can navigate your way over highways and streets with certainty. But once you get inside a building, it provides no further assistance. That's why Fraunhofer researchers, together with the Bosch Corporation and other partners, have engineered a navigation system for interior spaces. Thanks to a clever combination of sensors, the module tracks the movements and position of its user in precise detail.

A smartphone with GPS functionality is a delightful tool. It guides its owner safely and with certainty through the streets of an unfamiliar city. But after arriving at the destination, all too often the orientation is gone, because as soon as you enter a building, you lose contact with the GPS satellites. Then you are on your own - whether in the interminable hallways of the trade fair complex, or inside one of the branches of the local megaplex shopping mall. "Wouldn't it be helpful," Harald von Rosenberg thought to himself, "if at such moments the smart phone could quickly shift to an interior space navigator, and point the way through the rows of shops and stairwells?" Well, that is absolutely possible, as the project manager for "motion control systems" at the Stuttgart-based Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA now demonstrates through the "MST-Smartsense" cooperation project from the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research BMBF. The project is a joint collaboration that also brings together companies such as Robert Bosch GmbH, Bosch Sensortec GmbH, Binder Elektronik GmbH, AEMtec GmbH, and Sensitec GmbH with the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Modular Solid State Technologies EMFT and the Fraunhofer Institutes for Reliability and Microintegration IZM and for Electronic Nano Systems ENAS. These partners developed a sensor module for navigating interior spaces that is the size of a fingernail - and thus predestined for use in a smartphone.

Sensors detect length of stride

Similar to conventional pedometers, the module registers how fast and how far a person is walking. That said, it is much more precise and intelligent than the customary devices found on the market, because it even registers the direction in which the user is walking. "There has never before been a device so small that can accomplish so much," says von Rosenberg. Basic pedometers initially have to be programmed. Body height, length of stride - all these data must be stored by the user before he or she starts to walk. That could be a hindrance if multiple individuals use the same counter. Moreover, conventional devices are not very accurate. Unlike the new navigation sensor from Stuttgart: located right inside the tiny module are several sensors which are processed combined. 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 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. This is possible because von Rosenberg initially trained the software using the stride patterns of various individuals. The sensor instantly registers how an individual is walking and can estimate the stride length exactly.

Display indicates the ideal walk route

Naturally, the interior space navigator only functions if it knows the building. For this purpose, soon smartphones will automatically download three-dimensional building plans from the Internet. These are coupled with the sensor module to display a user's, current position on the smartphone. Even more: the ideal walk route also appears on the display. Building plans can also be fed automatically to the cellular device as soon as you enter a building. It would also be possible to apply a two-dimensional QR code on the layout plan at the entrance of the building. Users could then scan the code with their smartphone, to download the corresponding map.

And there is yet another element that distinguishes the new sensor module. It has its own small microcomputer that processes the sensor's measurement values into clear data - like a degree figure for visual orientation, or the length of a segment of travel. These can be used directly by the smartphone. By contrast, conventional sensors only produce basic raw data that another processor has to calculate into discrete data. "Unlike what we typically find, the MST-Smartsense Sensor can be installed directly into a smartphone or tablet computer without any additional elements, and supply apps with data," says von Rosenberg. Since the sensor module works autonomously, it does not have to rely on the computer capacity of the smartphone's built-in processor. It uses its own small processor that needs substantially less power. That relieves the device's battery.

A demonstration of the new indoor navigation can be seen at the trade show Sensor+Test 2012 from May 22 to 24 in Nuremberg, at the Fraunhofer joint exhibition booth. There, IPA researchers will present another example of a successful sensor fusion system: a navigation module for robots and mobile measurement systems that, using the human eye as its model, additionally secures its position through a camera image.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "GPS for interior spaces: Navigating the shopping center." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120511101354.htm>.
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. (2012, May 11). GPS for interior spaces: Navigating the shopping center. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120511101354.htm
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "GPS for interior spaces: Navigating the shopping center." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120511101354.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins