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Wireless technology pinpoints locations to within 3m

28 May, 2010

The American wireless sensor networking specialist, Dust Networks, is enhancing its technology to incorporate location sensing. It has added time-of-flight ranging capabilities to its time-synchronised mesh networking system to produce a new form of location sensing which, it says, can pinpoint a person or asset to within 1–3 metres indoors or outdoors, even in the harshest RF environments.

The ability to combine location data with sensed data will open up new applications, Dust Networks suggests. For example, an application may take action if the temperature or energy consumption of an object reaches a preset threshold when it is a certain location.

“The seamless addition of location-sensing capabilities to ultra-low power wireless sensor networks fundamentally changes the economy of delivering asset and people-tracking applications,” says Brenda Glaze, Dust Networks’ vice-president of sales and marketing. “We are looking forward to partnering with the leading sensor and asset management solution providers to enable new services and products.”

Dust Networks says that most existing wireless technologies that provide location information – such as RFID and WiFi – need a line-powered infrastructure with multiple LAN or WAN connections that is costly to install. It adds that its Time Synchronised Positioning Time-of-flight (TSPT) technology uses its proven wireless mesh infrastructure which can run for many years on batteries or harvested energy, allowing infrastructure to be deployed easily, without disrupting buildings or their occupants.

The location tags, attached to people or assets, can also run on low-cost batteries for years. The tags and network handle the sensor and control data, allowing applications developers to combine information about where an object is with information about how it is.

The result is a new, real-time location technology that is said to combine the best attributes of wireless sensor networking with the best of location technologies.

TSPT uses multi-channel time-of-flight ranging based on IEEE 802.15.4 radio transmissions. Its claimed benefits include:

♦  No wires Nodes can run on batteries or harvested energy. Installations are non-disruptive, and the technology can be used indoors and outdoors.

♦  No site survey The self-forming and self-healing 802.15.4E mesh infrastructure hops channels, and the mesh connections adapt automatically as the RF environment changes.

♦  No special deployment skills The network forms itself automatically, and no field wireless expertise is needed.

Samples of Dust Networks’ TSPT products will be available from the third quarter of 2010.

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