Global navigation satellite system (GNSS) technology eases locating people or assets outdoors. Meanwhile, no technology has yet achieved widespread adoption for localising people or assets in indoor environments such as warehouses. Recognising the growing demand for more accurate indoor positioning solutions, the Bluetooth SIG released Bluetooth direction-finding, which is advantageous over previous Receiver signal strength indicator (RSSI) -based solutions.
Now “explorer kits” named XPLR-AOA-1 and XPLR-AOA-2 have been launched by u-blox that aim at letting product developers evaluate the potential of Bluetooth direction finding and high precision indoor positioning. These kits offer low power consumption, simple deployment and low cost of ownership, further enabling applications including access control, collision detection, smart appliances, indoor positioning and asset tracking.
The XPLR-AOA-1 and XPLR-AOA-2 leverage Bluetooth technology, wherein the Bluetooth direction-finding helps determine the direction of radio signals travelling from a mobile tag to one or several fixed anchor points. Using angle-of-arrival (AoA) technology, these anchor points (comprising an antenna array connected to a Bluetooth receiver) detect the direction, or angle, to the mobile tag, which transmits a Bluetooth signal. When a constellation of such multi-antenna anchors is deployed, AoA technology can be used to triangulate the precise location of a mobile device or tag.
These Bluetooth-based tracking solutions are adept at reliably detecting location – from the tag to the cloud – to sub-meter-level accuracy in indoor environments.
Comprising a u-blox C211 antenna board and a u-blox C209 tag, as well as the necessary software, the XPLR-AOA-1 offers all the required components to evaluate AoA technology. Applications include detecting whether a person or an object is approaching a door, avoiding collisions between moving objects and directing a camera at a moving tag.
The XPLR-AOA-2 demonstrates high precision indoor position proof of concept built around Bluetooth direction-finding. The kit comprises four u-blox C211 antenna boards, four u-blox C209 tags and all the necessary software to leverage AoA technology for diverse applications.
Both explorer kits use the u-blox NINA-B4 Bluetooth 5.1 low energy module featuring Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF52833 Bluetooth Low Energy System-on-Chip (SoC). The u-blox u-connectLocate software embedded in the SoC calculates the angles of the incoming signals with no additional processing required. In the case of the XPLR-AOA-2, a positioning engine software triangulates the position of the tag.
For a great end-user experience, u-blox is partnering with Traxmate, whose enterprise asset tracking platform is supported by XPLR-AOA-2. This solution offers a hardware-agnostic, cloud-based tracking system that makes it easier to set up the tracking environment, create buildings, upload floor plans and specify the placement of the anchor points. Real-time tracking of asset location can be done either through the web or a dedicated smartphone app.
The XPLR-AOA-1 and XPLR-AOA-2 explorer kits can be obtained through u-blox’s sales channels and u-blox online shop.