Tuesday, June 26, 2012

#MEMS: "Neon Beats Google at Personnel Tracking"

Last week Google announced its Earth Enterprise product aimed at charging you $15 a month to allow them to track the location of your mobile phone and report it to your boss. At the recent Joint Navigation Conference (JNC 2012, Colorado Springs) Google was one-upped by TRX Systems. Its Neon personnel tracking system uses sensor fusion that melds 10-degree-of-freedom MEMS sensor data with RF range finding to locate personnel where GPS, WiFi and even cellular networks don't operate, making use of rapidly deployed beacons: R. Colin Johnson

Here is what Neon says about its personnel tracking technology: TRX Systems, an award winning developer of indoor location systems, demonstrated NEON – a new personnel location system that locates and tracks personnel operating indoors and in urban areas where GPS is unavailable or unreliable. NEON greatly improves situational awareness and command effectiveness through the use of advanced sensor fusion, time of flight ranging, and mapping algorithms that deliver precise, real time location of personnel indoors. Uniquely, NEON delivers indoor location without requiring pre-existing or networked infrastructure. NEON meets the requirements for event security, training, and other mission-essential applications requiring a highly portable system that can deliver precision indoor location. TRX demonstrated at the 2012 Joint Navigation Conference in a live presentation of the system’s indoor location and tracking capabilities.

Key features of the NEON Indoor Location System include:

Real Time Location - Easy to monitor interface showing real time 2D and 3D location of all personnel
Rapid Deployment and Portability - Quick set-up including on-scene map configuration and building rendering
Effective After Action Review - Location and status logging for all personnel supporting training and after action review of events.
Wearing NEON Tracking Units, personnel are located as they walk, crawl, use stairs and take elevators inside buildings where GPS is not available, and in outdoor urban centers where GPS is unreliable. The real time status of personnel is communicated back to NEON Command Software via cellular, Wi-Fi, or radio networks.

Information from MEMS inertial, magnetic, pressure and time of flight-based RF ranging is combined in NEON to deliver precise indoor location information. Neon uses location information to infer site maps dynamically as people move about an area or building. An advanced graphical user interface presents all NEON derived information in an intuitive and effective display to provide comprehensive up to the second situational awareness. The NEON extensible architecture also supports enhanced navigation precision with the addition of rapidly deployable fixed-position nodes. These optional Multi-Sensor Anchor Nodes are small, light weight and may be distributed prior to events in fixed site applications with minimal time and effort. The portability of the NEON system makes it ideal for training exercises, event security, and enterprise deployments where networked infrastructure can be difficult or expensive to obtain.

The NEON sensor and mapping technologies are part of the growing indoor location market segment – using motion sensing and RF technologies to augment GPS, Wi-Fi, and other fixed references in buildings and urban areas. “The commercial implications of indoor positioning are even bigger than the commercial aspects of GPS on mobile in recent years” said Bruce Krulwich, author of Grizzly Analytics's report Indoor Location Positioning: Research Pipelines, Start-Ups and Predictions."

Further Reading