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Fraunhofer Portugal awarded at the Microsoft Indoor Location Competition

Fraunhofer Portugal won the 3rd place with its patent pending ‘Precise Indoor Location’ (PIL) solution in the Microsoft Indoor Location Competition, which was held last April 15 during the IPSN 2015 Conference in Seattle. With more than 40 submissions from industry and academia this is currently the most renowned competition in the field. The PIL project is an accurate indoor location technology with sub-meter level accuracy that allows indoor navigation using a smartphone. PIL has been designed to support several real usage scenarios, such as when the smartphone is in a pocket or while in calling or texting.

The winner of the competition is from the joint research center of the European Commission in Italy which participated with a LIDAR system that is costing more than 40t€. The Microsoft Indoor Location Competition differentiates between infrastructure free systems and systems that require a dedicated infrastructure to work. Fraunhofer Portugal has participated in the infrastructure free class and has been the only participant with a pure dead reckoning solution using the inertial sensors of a standard hardware and not making use of any other supporting technology, like e.g. WiFi triangulation. With an average error of just 2.6m Fraunhofer Portugal demonstrated that the algorithms that have been developed in the last years by the PIL team are leading edge also on the international level. The goal of the PIL team is to provide a commercial grade location solution that is not only free of any infrastructure requirements, but also does not require efforts to generate and maintain maps of buildings for the purpose of indoor location in order to contribute to the rapid spread of indoor location solutions on the consumer level. Target markets are e.g. retail, solutions for public and private safety providers or elderly people.

Indoor location systems are an important enabling technology for applications such as indoor navigation, public safety, security management and ambient intelligence, representing huge potential regarding advertisement and retail businesses. Pedestrian navigation systems (PNS) have recently emerged as a solution for the indoor positioning problem regarding the lack of accuracy. These systems rely on dead reckoning algorithms which are solutions based on the fused data provided by the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) on the smartphone that can then be used to evaluate one’s current position by using a previously known one.

The patent pending indoor tracking solution developed at Fraunhofer AICOS differs from the classical dead reckoning approaches by employing filtering techniques that are based on the knowledge of human gait. Our body produces cyclic movement patterns as a consequence of the alternate movement of the legs while walking. The knowledge of human walking behavior enabled the research team to link the data acquired by the IMU on the smartphone to the gait cycle, making possible to detect each time a step is taken and to quantify the amount of movement produced by the person. Additionally, the direction of movement is evaluated and corrected taking into account these human motion models.