RF Indoor-positioning

KCS’ TraceME product line incorporates an intelligent location based positioning solution, which provides/enables the localisation of movable objects quickly and accurately in scenarios where traditional GPS systems are insufficient. These scenarios might be the case for indoor applications, like warehousing and logistics.

In general, the beacons (with fixed location coordinates) are periodically broadcasting their positions. Those beacons can be placed, for example inside a warehouse, creating a detection zone for the assets containing a TraceME module. The beacons are connected to a standard network, and a central computer or server, which tracks the position of the modules.

The TraceME module receives the transmitted beacon signals and calculates its own relative position.
Practically most of the time, the objects are not being moved. In this situation the module is in its ‘deep sleep’ state and optionally transmits its location back to the beacons once a day/week/month, consuming a minimum of battery power.

All TraceME modules are equipped with multiple on-boards sensors, including a 3D accelerometer, which is active in the module’s ‘deep sleep’ state. When an object is being moved, the accelerometer triggers the module into its ‘active’ state, transmitting its location and other relevant module information (e.g. battery- and I/O status, temperature, etc) back to the fixed beacons.

Initiated by the network, beacons can send messages to specific modules that are in ‘active’ state. These modules then respond with their real-time location, so the network can follow the module and respond with any further action.
When there is no movement of the object any more, the actual position is sent to the beacons once more and the 3D accelerometer triggers the module back into its ‘deep sleep’ state again.

How it works:

Listen before talk

The TraceME module is installed in the vehicle, or attached to the object, and remains inactive until the vehicle/objects needs to be located. This ‘listen before talk’ algorithm is essential for a succsful anti-theft systems, since criminal gangs often try to locate and disable most RF transmitting devices. 
For battery powered devices which are being used for example in logistic applications, minimizing RF-transmissions enlarges the module’s battery lifetime. Also, minimizing the amount of RF packages in the air allows for a larger number of objects to be tracked.

Ultra-low power consumption

TraceME modules are extreme low power and offering a battery lifetime of up to 15 years.

The standard TraceME modules are based on GPS + Glonass for accurate global positioning. The module’s positioning coordinates are transmitted by cellular GSM network. However, for indoor applications other techniques have to be used.
The more advanced TraceME modules contains a technology based on RF (2.4GHz.) and/or LoRa (868/915MHz.). Locating the module is based on an intelligent algorithm of measuring the time of the propagation of physical transmitted (encrypted, proprietary protocol) signals.

Radio propagation systems (especially indoor) are facing many practical difficulties like reflections and obstructions, caused by specific site parameters such as floor layout, walls, and numerous reflecting surfaces. However, by using a minimum of three transmitting beacons and an intelligent software algorithm, accurate (up to 50 cm) indoor positioning based on triangulation is possible.

The detection zone can be divided into an area where the modules are allowed to be moved around and a zone where they are not allowed to enter (restricted area). This virtual fence is in range of at least three beacons, and several actions can be triggered by the network if a module crosses the border.

Stolen vehicle/object recovery

When a module is actually moved out of the RF-range of the beacons, the module can no longer calculate its position and goes into its ‘out-of-range’ state. This could be the case, for example, if an object is being stolen.
Depending on the type of the TraceME modules, they are equipped with several technologies to recover the stolen object. In the ‘out-of-range’ state, the module tries to find its current position by using GPS, or optional Iridium satellite, or sense the availability of surrounding cellular GSM- or LoRa networks. The module will log any obtained coordinate and will transmit its location when any pre-defined transceiver is in range. Next, stolen vehicle/object recovery (police)units equipped with these pre-defined transceivers can track down the module efficiently.

Logistic applications

For logistic applications (warehouses) it might be allowed for objects to be moved out of the fence, for example when they are being transported by a logistic transport service truck. In this scenario, the truck should be equipped with a single similar single beacon, placing the modules into a ‘transport’ state. When the truck arrives at its destination, the modules can then be part of a local RF-network for further action.

  • Other applications, but not limited to;
  • Personnel Management and Payroll Systems
  • 3D Studio and Filming Application
  • Virtual Reality Interactive Games
  • Automation and Manufacturing Application
  • Armed Forces and Police training
  • Robotics Guidance and Tracking
  • Sports and Athletics Performance logging and training
  • Security control and management
  • Medical: patient control and management