News and Articles

09
Jan

What would your product do, if it knew its location?

400px-Smartphone_Compass

By now of course we’re all familiar with GPS and location-aware personal phones and devices.  In principal, the same functionality can be built into any device that has a radio link.

While this has been known for many years, the costs reserved this functionality for special applications.  What is about to happen is that this functionality will be bundled with the radio that you embed for communications, and almost free.

Our New Year challenge to you: What could you do with “location-aware” devices?

Very simplistic RF location systems try to use RSSI – received signal strength – to triangulate a position, but this technique is notoriously unreliable, because signal strength is dependent upon so many factors. More sophisticated systems use encoded data trains and /or analysis of the phase of the RF carrier itself. Indeed, GPS itself uses variations on these techniques. Over the years the implementation of these techniques has evolved from “a big box of breadboards” (in fact, one member of Venture’s team was involved with a pre-GPS system in the 90s that tracked car location from AM radio towers. This technology went on to be used to track horses during a race) to chip level integration. In tomorrow’s world every radio device will have this capability built in at the lowest level. Today, certain silicon vendors are already delivering the first devices with this level of integration.

Venture Technologies is able to provide tomorrow’s built in location capabilities today!

radio bouys adapted from andrew maloneWe are privileged to be at the leading edge of this trend, on account of our advanced development status with several chip manufacturers. Venture has been working on building location positioning into the same low-cost, low power radio systems that we are renowned for developing with our RFOS platform. We are currently prototyping systems and achieving performance of a few inches in some applications. We will eventually be implementing the capability as a standard RFOS block, but it is available right now for custom development.

New products built around core position and location capability

Well, at one level, we can all imagine products where location is explicit core functionality. Maybe you have mobile assets that you want to track and monitor – animals, tools or equipment, parts bins, plants, key fobs, building infrastructure, etc. Or maybe you need to know the distance between you and the other device. These make for really interesting product possibilities in their own right and Venture is able to deliver such product designs for you.

The Real Breakthrough may be in network auto-configuration

radio toilets converted from Ell Brown
We are just as, if not more, excited by using location for automatic network configuration. Imagine that you have a transportation or agricultural multi-node control system, or that you have an urban monitoring application with dozens of wirelessly networked nodes, each monitoring or controlling some specific element. Today, each time you assemble or modify your system, you have to identify which node is which radio, maybe using a bar code, or an RFID tag, or even manual entry. Now imagine that you set out your installation, hit the “configure” button, and it is all done for you. The added capabilities and reduced system deployment costs of automatically configuring networks will be a breakthrough in many applications.

So think about it: what could you do with “location-aware” devices?  Call and find out if it’s possible .