Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Mitsubishi positioning systems can improves accuracy for warehouse management

Steve Rogerson
February 16, 2016
Japanese company Mitsubishi Electric has developed an indoor positioning system using wireless LAN communications and acoustic ranging to achieve accuracy within less than one meter. The system is expected to be used for applications such as walking navigation or warehouse management in underground locations where GPS signals are not reliably available.
Commercial use is expected by April 2017.
The system positions the target device based on the round trip times for sound waves travelling between the device and surrounding wireless WLAN access points equipped with positioning capability. The positioning trigger and other required data are exchanged via a WLAN.
The system can be installed with as few as three, or more, positioning-capable WLAN access points. In structures that already have WLAN infrastructure, cost-effective installation is possible by simply appending the positioning of the existing WLAN access points. The system also provides WLAN infrastructure, in addition to positioning.
In the case of existing indoor-positioning methods, users must purchase positioning-specific hardware, such as RF tags. Mitsubishi Electric’s system only requires WLAN communications and sound-wave transmission. Since smartphones are usually equipped for WLAN and sound, such as microphones and speakers, most users will simply need to install the positioning application in their smartphones.
There are many practical needs for accurate positioning inside buildings or underground facilities where GPS signals are not available, such as walking navigation, worker administration, warehouse logistics and asset management.
As an example of using the system for walking navigation in an underground parking lot, the position of a car could be detected and stored when it is parked, and then the information could be used later to guide the user back to the car.