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Scientists use earth’s magnetic field for indoor positioning system

Finland: Researchers from Finland have developed an indoor positioning system (IPS) that uses Earth’s magnetic field and a smartphone. “The idea behind the technology is to use your smartphone’s magnetometer, which powers your phone’s digital compass, to identify your location no matter where you are”, said Finnish researchers (who founded their own company named IndoorAtlas).

Compasses can be useless in an urban setting because all the metallic structures that throw the Earth’s smooth magnetic field out of whack. IPS, however, doesn’t use the digital compass to derive which way is north. Instead, it uses the phone’s magnetometer to map these magnetic disturbances to produce a digital representation of a building’s floor plan.

According to IndoorAtlas, any phone with a built in magnetometer will be able to produce these maps, which are accurate down to 10 centimeters. The plan is to let users upload the data to an Internet-based mapping service (such as Google Maps) that you could explore online or download when you arrive at a location with a magnetic field map.

Once a map is created, visitors to the building can download it to their own phone and navigate through the indoor environment.

Unlike other proposed indoor navigation systems based on WiFi and Bluetooth, IndoorAtlas doesn’t require any additional infrastructure, the developers said.

Source: PC Advisor