NEC technology uses geomagnetism to locate individuals

Via NEC News room

Oct 28, 2016

Tokyo, October 28, 2016 - NEC Corporation (NEC; TSE: 6701) has developed a technology that utilizes geomagnetism to determine the exact location of subjects inside of buildings, where the frame and other steel materials may interfere with GPS signals.

Utilizing deep learning, a kind of Artificial Intelligence (AI), this technology estimates the geomagnetic characteristics for each floor of a building based on indoor location information and geomagnetic information obtained by a prior examination. According to these characteristics, it can determine the location of a subject to within 2 meters of accuracy (*) based on the geomagnetic information obtained through a sensor carried by the subject.

Going forward, NEC intends to combine this technology with a personal identification technology which uses the resonation of sound determined by the shape of human ear cavities (**), a motion sensor, and other components and to provide a platform for "hearable devices"(earphone type devices) that can help grasp where a person is, who the person is, and their activity status.

There are growing needs to determine the exact location of individuals while they are inside such locations as office facilities and retail stores, for purposes that include dynamic management and customer guidance. Conventionally, methods for locating individuals who are indoors include the use of a beacon (***) or wireless LAN, which may be problematic in terms of costly installment.

NEC’s technology makes it possible to precisely locate a subject indoors by use of devices equipped with a geomagnetic sensor and a motion sensor. This requires no additional capital spending for location measurement services, thereby enabling them to be implemented at a lower cost.

Primary features of this system include the following:

  • Determines the exact location of a subject indoors Utilizing deep learning, this technology estimates the geomagnetic characteristics of each floor of a facility based on the indoor location information and geomagnetic information obtained by prior examination. According to these characteristics, it can determine the location to within 2 meters of accuracy based on geomagnetic information obtained through a sensor carried by the subject inside.

  • No additional capital spending is required Once the examination of a facility’s geomagnetic condition is complete, there is no need to install specific devices indoors, such as a beacon (***) or wireless LAN. Therefore, location measurement services can be introduced at a reduced cost.

NEC is aiming for the commercialization of platforms for hearable devices by the end of the 2017 fiscal year by combing this new technology with a personal identification technology which uses the resonation of sound determined by the shape of human ear cavities, motion sensors and other components.

Hearable devices enable hands-free verification of wearable device users connected to the Internet, which can help to resolve social issues, such as accidents caused by focusing on a smartphone while walking. Moreover, service providers, public and private organizations can integrate their assets with hearable devices using web APIs.

In the future, NEC aims to create new links between this technology and other advanced services, including 5G, a next-generation communications standard and IoT (Internet of Things).


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