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Indoor Positioning System

Seamless indoor/outdoor navigation on smartphones

Background

Tokyo greets many tourists, international and domestic, who need a smart navigation system to overcome difficulties in getting to their destinations, like complex train transfers.
Outdoors, navigation systems based on GPS (Global Positioning System) are commonplace now. Nevertheless, users are at a loss once they get inside a building or go underground.
Ricoh has been studying indoor positioning systems aiming to organize a social infrastructure that enables seamless indoor/outdoor positioning.

Solutions

Positioning systems can be used to solve social issues. To materialize that, it is important that positioning technologies be disseminated as part of the social infrastructure.
There are two tasks to address:

  • To attain a practical level of positioning precision and reliability as an application
  • To suppress the costs of introducing and operating the system in the infrastructure

Ricoh is addressing those tasks by developing a hybrid system—combining beacon-based positioning with PDR (pedestrian dead reckoning). Beacons are base stations that transmit position information, and will be installed where absolutely needed. Existing functions of smartphones will be used to interpolate the beacon-based positioning with PDR.

Solutions image

Technical highlights

PDR is a technology to estimate the position of a person. It uses a nine-axis motion sensor, typically installed on a smartphone, to sense how a person is walking. It estimates the position while calculating how the person is moving from a certain location.
The three highlights of Ricoh’s PDR are:

  • Quick response to different ways of holding a smartphone (for instance, when it is held by hand or put in a pocket)
  • High responsiveness (real-time operation)
  • Absolute position obtained by using beacons to compensate for PDR errors (latitude, longitude, and altitude)

Ricoh has developed a highly responsive algorithm that supports different ways of holding a smartphone. To ensure accuracy of position detection, several types of beacons are combined with PDR.

Beacons

Figure: Beacons
*BLE stands for Bluetooth ® Low Energy.

Ricoh's vision

For the future, Ricoh aims to:

  • Develop an inexpensive beacon system + PDR that operates continually, with the aim of making positioning systems even more popular, and
  • Provide value by fully using all sensor information of a smartphone, not just position information.