July 8, 2024

u-blox Releases Indoor Asset Tracking Solution

u-blox’s indoor positioning solution aims to provide the optimal combination between accuracy, cost, and power consumption for tracking indoor assets down to 10cm.
Image via u-blox

u-locate is u-blox’ complete indoor positioning solution for all these end-user indoor tracking applications. The solution is targeted at RTLS (real-time location systems) solutions providers and systems integrators, with end-user indoor tracking applications in warehousing, manufacturing, healthcare, and more.

Indoor positioning is a growing market in manufacturing, healthcare, retail, and hospitality. While the focus in each segment is asset tracking, different use cases apply for each segment. In healthcare, for example, redundant and unused equipment needs to be tracked, as well as patients. By tracking assets, including tools and vehicles in logistics, daily operations can be optimized, while in manufacturing safety aspects it’s important to know where people are to ensure they don’t enter certain zones.

The benefits of Bluetooth LE AoA

u-locate is a complete indoor positioning solution based on Bluetooth LE AoA (Angle-of-Arrival), which provides system integrators good performance, and compromises between accuracy, cost and power consumption. Bluetooth LE AoA can achieve sub-meter accuracy of down to 10cm, which fills a gap between Wi-Fi, Bluetooth RSSI, and UWB (ultra-wideband). The typical accuracy of Bluetooth RSSI is between 5 and 10 meters, while ultra-wideband provides 10cm accuracy. UWB is the most precise option of the three, but also the most pricey and power-hungry.

Reducing time to market

By providing system integrators with advanced AoA algorithms, u-blox can reduce time to market. AoA measurements refer to angle-based techniques to estimate the position of a tag by measuring the angles of signals arriving at the measuring station. In the Angle of Arrival (AoA) method, a transmitting device uses a single antenna to transmit a special signal. The receiving device, such as a fixed locator, has multiple antennae arranged in an array.

The u-locate indoor asset tracking solution also comes with an extensive management support tool and anchors with self-aware orientation to avoid complex installations, ensuring further reduced times to market. The solution scales easily as the end-user installation grows, while OTA (over-the-air) software updates ensure continuous access to new features and updates.

System components

u-locate offers every necessary hardware, software, and middleware component for indoor positioning: it consists of a positioning middleware (u-locateHub), a positioning engine (u-locateEngine), anchor points (u-locateAnchor) and tags (u-locateTag). It can be complemented with GNSS products from u-blox to guarantee seamless indoor and outdoor localization.

The u-locate components work as follows: the anchor points are the hardware that picks up different transmissions from tags attached to indoor assets. These contain a motion sensor. Next, the anchors calculate the angle to the tagged asset, that is sent through the backhaul Wi-Fi internet to one of the software components. The positioning engine calculates the position from initial transmissions from the tag using u-blox positioning algorithms. The positioning middleware adds functionality to the positioning engine, such as a user interface with floor plans and location features such as geofencing, georeferencing, and collision detection. 

omlox™ interoperability standard

While indoor positioning is a growing market, it is also a fragmented supplier market where a lack of interoperability can become a problem over time. u-locate includes support for interoperability with the omlox global interoperability standard. By joining omlox, u-blox recognizes the importance of contributing to a growing ecosystem and promoting global interoperability of positioning solutions. It is the world’s first locating standard and specifies flexible location solutions that allow customers to benefit from lower integration costs while ensuring future-proof setups.

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