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BLiPS: a GLiNTECH Indoor Positioning System

Have you ever been in a shopping centre and wondered what level you’re on or how to find the shop you need to go to? How about going into an open-plan office and wandering around looking for an elusive meeting room?

While there are a lot of map applications available for download, few will help you in the above situations because they tend to be limited to satellite views of outdoor areas. Those map apps may get you to a building, but aren’t so helpful once you’re inside a multi-levelled building.

But, using mobile devices, we now have the ability to get around these frustrations. At GLiNTECH, our developers have been having fun with IBM Worklight to create BLiPS, a mobile application that maps indoor spaces, like a shopping centre or office, in order to determine your location. Now you can have a customised, secure app for your customers and staff to help them navigate your organisation’s floor plans.

How does it work?

BLiPS determines location by scanning for WiFi signals near your mobile device at any given point. For example, when you enter a building, the app will scan for the nearest signals. Because a WiFi signal weakens when the distance between the device and the Access Point (AP) is increased, depending on the relative strength and position, it becomes possible to calculate how far the AP is from the device.

Once your position has been determined, it is illustrated on an on-screen map. Below is a very basic demonstration using a floorplan of the GLiNTECH office.

A blue marker indicates the position of the device, as identified by the WiFi points, and this marker moves on the screen as the device is physically moved around. For our office demonstration, there are 5 zones, each about 5 metres long running in a straight-line through the corridor in our office.

The technology

For our demonstration, we used the IBM Worklight and PhoneGap mobile frameworks as development tools and tested on Android (currently on GPlay) and Apple devices.

Future R&D enhancements already in the pipeline: