AGENT – the Future of Indoor Positioning

Silvia Pichler, 
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What is AGENT?

 

AGENT is a novel approach to Indoor Mobile Wayfinding. In short, AGENT enables map creation, virtual iBeacon infrastructure design, map deployment tools and navigation applications.

 

The acronym AGENT stands for “Automatic GENeration of fingerprints for innovative complete indoor localization systems”. It is a joint project of indoo.rs, the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology and Heidelberg Mobil (HD Mobil), which is funded by Eurostars, a programme by EUREKA and the European Commission.

 

All project partners focus on different components, according to their respective core competencies.

 

While indoo.rs contributes high quality, low latency localization in real time, HD Mobil creates and visualizes this location on a map through their Deep Map product. AIT on the other hand ensures that the Beacon radio visibility needed to create reference data for the localizations is enabled through their state-of-the-art ray tracer.

 

Put together, these components help overcome many obstacles commonly encountered in enabling Indoor Mobile Wayfinding solutions. Thus AGENT significantly lowers the barriers for new customers to adopt Indoor Positioning and Wayfinding at their venues.

 

Challenges in enabling Indoor Navigation

 

Usually, the standard implementation procedure of an Indoor Positioning and Navigation system follows the steps as depicted below:

AGENT Indoor Positioning standard process

Following this procedure, it is only after the installation and measurements are completed that it is possible to really evaluate if the correct amount of Beacons and their placement inside the building produced sufficient accuracy for navigation.

 

Experts like our experienced on-site engineers usually manage to plan and execute the installation with high quality results also with the standard procedure on the first try. The main added value here with AGENT lies in the fact that now inexperienced customers themselves can do the installation and achieve the same or even better results.

 

Miscalculating the amount of Beacons needed is a common problem. Excess hardware causes increased costs for the product itself, installation and maintenance. A Beacon shortage, on the other hand, leads to poor coverage and low accuracy.

 

Moreover, Beacons may be poorly installed, show an uneven density, or be placed in a way that their coverage is shadowed by the environment. It is also possible that some of the measurements were deficient because of noise, presence of temporary radio-dense objects, or inaccurate position estimates. Disentangling these issues from each other is difficult, and discovering them only happens late in the project.

 

Any fixes can only be applied after the quality check, which often means repeating the whole process from the manual planning stage, and further add to project cost and delays.

 

Eliminating barriers to adopting Indoor Mobile Wayfinding

 

AGENT eliminates all of these issues and thus lowers the threshold for clients to introduce an Indoor Navigation system.

AGENT Indoor Positioning new process

After creating a map that depicts the building in 3D, virtual Beacons can be placed on walls throughout the map. In areas showing weak accuracy, moreBeacons can be placed, whereas in areas with high accuracy, perhaps some can be removed.

 

Once the final Beacon placement is decided on, the resulting required amount of Beacons can be ordered. The Locator (one of the three essential AGENT components) will aid the customer in installing the Beacons at the correct locations, and once all Beacons are up and running, the map works immediately without the need to take measurements or any further processing.

Benefits at one glance:

  • Simulation of an Indoor Navigation installation
  • Testing accuracy results before actual installatio
  • Precise estimation of number of Beacons neede
  • Assessing optimal locations to mount Beacon
  • Dynamic adaptation to changes of the venue sit
  • Eliminating the need for labour-intensive measurement
  • 3D representation of buildings on the ma
  • Saving time and costs by optimizing the whole implementation procedure

 

 

How does it work?

AGENT consists of three major components:

AGENT Indoor Positioning components

Locator

The Locator is an RSSI fingerprinting localization engine and mobile application providing Indoor Localization functionalities based on 3D mapping including a multi-floor Indoor Routing.

 

It also includes survey functions for venue managers to measure user activity and beacon data in connection with the administrative function in the Annotator.

 

Annotator

The Annotator is a web-based map modelling and visualization tool for map analytics. It helps customers equip their premises with exactly the right amount of BLE Beacons needed. It also allows them to turn CAD files into beautiful maps, assign materials to walls on the map and verify their planned beacon setup.

 

What is more, the Annotator is complemented by functionalities for user and project management as well as visualization of user data, and is connected to both the Locator and the Predictor.

 

Predictor

The Predictor is a state-of-the-art research grade radio ray tracer to produce virtual radio maps based on the 3D model. The ray tracer uses geometric optical principles to calculate reflection, diffraction, penetration and diffuse scattering of radio waves.

 

The signal strength predicted through the superposition of all waves at a given coordinance is stored in a database as so called fingerprints. These fingerprints are used for prediction / planning of Beacons and in a later step for localization.

 

About AIT

The AIT Austrian Institute of Technology is Austria’s largest research and technology organisation, specialized on key infrastructure issues of the future. Their dedicated Center for Digital Safety & Security is developing modern information and communication technologies (ICT) and systems designed to establish secure and reliable critical infrastructure. In the field of next generation wireless communication (5G) technologies, AIT experts are working on innovative methods for Bluetooth-based indoor localization solutions.

 

About Heidelberg Mobil International

Heidelberg Mobil International GmbH was founded in 2007 as a spin-off from European Media Laboratory GmbH, a research institute. Since June, 1st 2018 HD Mobil has been integrated into the BridgingIT GmbH, a IT company which advices corporate customers on the implementation of corporate strategies and the use of state-of-the-art technologies. The unique product of HD Mobil, which specializes in indoor navigation, wayfinding, location-based services and asset tracking, is its Deep Map™ technology, which enables seamless navigation on complex terrain and within buildings. The company is based on the campus of the University of Heidelberg and operates further sites in Vancouver & Minsk. Heidelberg Mobil currently employs around 50 people.

 

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