Lost In The Supermarket? A New Sensor Will Navigate For You Indoors

Sure, GPS helps us get from Point A to Point B, but what if you’re just trying to find the Cinnabon? A new system from Fraunhofer allows for in-store (or in-mall) navigation and uses very simple sensors to asses where you are in the building at any time.

The system works when you enter the edifice and scan a QR code. This identifies your current position. A built-in pedometer and compass assess the speed and direction you’re going and, rather than relying on GPS signals, the system can tell where you are simply based on stride length.

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 the 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.

The system, called the MST-Smartsense Sensor, has its own processor built-in and could work with nearly any mobile device including tablets and smartphones. Although these things are proof-of-concept right now, it seems that something like this would be quite simple to implement using any modern phone assuming it had a pedometer built-in. Regardless, look for it at a defunct mall somewhere near you soon.

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