News Item

‘Indoor GPS’ apps closer to reality?

The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is running an initiative to develop indoor smartphone applications.

NIST explains that there are no smartphone apps for indoor navigation - but new data collected by them and a competition to find the app developers who can make the best use of it, may help solve the problem.

The NIST-led research team spent over 18 months collecting data from 4 different smartphone models to facilitate the development of indoor navigation apps. The data, which includes smartphone sensor readings, RF signal strengths and GPS fixes, should help developers create better apps to assist users inside unfamiliar buildings.

The NIST team walked the smartphones along 30 different set courses in 4 different buildings, including factory, warehouse and subterranean settings. At predetermined locations along each course, the researchers created 'timestamps' on all the phones corresponding to the times the person collecting the data was going over test points on the floors, whose locations had been professionally surveyed. The resulting data is now freely available online to the general public for developing smartphone indoor localization apps.

And, to encourage their development, NIST is sponsoring a competition called 'PerfLoc' to generate the best apps from the developer community. Developers have until 17 August 2017 to create computer algorithms that can make sense of the data and to submit their estimates of the smartphones' locations along the courses. The team has developed a methodology to evaluate the algorithms’ performance over the internet.

By making the data available to everyone, NIST is giving an opportunity to individual app developers and smaller companies that may not have the resources to collect their own data. In addition, by using the same data sets for developing the apps and evaluating their performance, it will be possible to compare the performance of the resulting apps.

NIST is offering cash prizes of $20,000, $10,000 and $5,000 to the top 3 submissions. The grand prize winner will also be flown to a conference in Japan to present their idea and do a live demonstration of their app.

The competition is open to all nationalities but, to win a cash prize, the 'official representative' in the case of individuals or teams has to be a US citizen or permanent resident of the US; and if the participant is a legal entity, then the legal entity must be registered in the US. Those who do not meet these eligibility rules to win cash prizes are welcome to partner up with someone in the US who is eligible and let them be the official representative.

If the best app is developed by a participant who is not eligible to win a cash prize, NIST is still considering sending that participant to the 2017 IPIN Conference in Sapporo, Japan, in September 2017 - all travel expenses (airfare, hotel, conference registration fee, food, and miscellaneous expenses) would be paid by NIST. Detailed rules for the competition can be found at the PerfLoc link below . .

The project leader comments: 'Of course the biggest reward will not be the cash prize . . the prestige that goes with it will matter to the designer.'

Further details and pic from the NIST link below . .

  • 12 April 2017
  • RIN

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