Which factors effect the choice of an indoor positioning solution?

Have you considered buying an indoor positioning solution?

There is no comprehensive standard for indoor positioning. There are many technologies and options, all with their own strengths and suitable use cases. It is easy to identify a suitable technology and path forward by discussing with an expert, making the deployment of indoor positioning a breeze.

The company’s needs and premises affect the choice of a suitable solution. Below is our list of the most important factors to identify a suitable solution.

1. Precision of positioning

The precision of positioning is one of the most important criteria for choosing a suitable indoor positioning solution. Often, precision will divide the available solutions to two options: zone-based positioning and high accuracy positioning. Zone-based positioning refers to a situation where the environment is divided into positioning areas and the solution provides information on which area the products are located in. The precision of positioning may vary from three meters up to a few dozen metres. High accuracy positioning can reach precision of a few dozen centimetres.

High accuracy positioning (< 1m)
Zone-based positioning (3-30m)
Korkean tarkkuuden paikannus (< 1m)

See the device’s location on a map within centimetres.

Aluetason paikannus (3-30m)

See on a map the areas the devices are located in.

The use case will define the precision required from the solution. High accuracy positioning is a prerequisite for analysing routes, for example. On the other hand, zone-based positioning is often enough for monitoring product work phases. Required precision is often useful for limiting which technologies would be suitable for the use case.

Increased precision will impact the design and cost of the solution. Zone-based positioning solutions are easier to implement, making them more popular where precise positioning is not of critical importance.

2. Positioning environment

The positioning environment refers to the areas where the tracked objects are positioned along with related properties and variables.

One crucial factor is the coverage of the solution, referring to the area for which the location information needs to be available. In some cases, it is enough to have positioning available only in a part of the premises instead of the entire area. The type of premises will also have an impact. Obstacles, such as shelves, walls or metal surfaces at the premises may negatively impact the reliability of some technologies (e.g. RFID). The height of the indoor spaces is also an essential piece of information when designing the solution.

In addition, the technical capabilities of the premises must also be considered. Some positioning solutions need gateways that require electricity and a network connection. If both are available at the premises, or can be easily installed, such gateways can be utilised in the positioning solution. Mesh based positioning solutions are an alternative for premises where electricity or a network connection is not available and laying cables is not feasible. In Mesh solutions, the tags form their own network, removing the need for a traditional network of gateways.

Despite its name, indoor positioning is not limited to only indoor spaces. An appropriate technological approach allows a solution to also be used in limited outdoor spaces, such as a yard. Whether the location is a limited indoor or outdoor space, designing the solution must always take into consideration the possibilities and requirements of the environment, such as the availability of electricity and network connection as well as weather conditions. Changes in weather conditions must be considered when procuring tags. There are various appropriate devices for different conditions and environments, and the easiest way to make a choice between them is to discuss with an expert. Factors that have an impact include:

  • Freezing temperatures
  • Humidity
  • Immersion
  • Changes in temperature
  • Other rough and demanding conditions

When the tags have been chosen right, they will work reliably even in freezing temperatures without losing battery capacity and can endure even hard impacts and changes in temperature. 

3. Number of tracked objects

One essential factor in choosing an appropriate indoor positioning solution is the number of tracked objects. The solution must scalable to also meet future needs, and large volumes may impact the choice of a suitable technology. 

A large volume may impose limits to the technologies that are suitable as well as to the positioning interval and precision. Some technologies handle large volumes better than others and this can be further enhanced by utilising techniques such as edge computing.

4. Positioning interval

Positioning interval refers to how often the location information of a tracked object is updated. The use case will set limits on the required level of interval, with even great differences between different use cases. For example, safety alerts to forklift operators require an update interval of 100ms in order to avoid collisions with employees. However, in zone-based positioning an interval of a few minutes is often enough. A high positioning interval may impact the cost and other factors such as tag battery life.

5. Cost

The overall cost of the solution is comprised of the above factors. One should consider the optimal benefit provided by the solution in relation to its cost. In some cases, a zone-based indoor positioning can already provide 90% of the desired benefit with a considerably lower total cost compared with high accuracy positioning. In such case, a zone-based positioning solution may be the most sensible approach.

It is also good to consider the life cycle cost of the solution instead of focusing on just the initial investment. For example, tags with an improved battery capacity may be considerably more expensive, but their batteries may outlast cheaper ones several times over. This way, they may be a more cost effective solution in the long run.

Interested about indoor positioning?

With Trackinno’s indoor positioning solution, data about your assets and other targets is automatically kept up to date in a reliable way. Get in touch, and we’ll gladly tell you more!

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