9 Replies Latest reply on Jan 6, 2015 7:13 PM by CarlSchwarz

    Indoor positioning system - HOWTO request


      I've come across some cool technology that would enable indoor position tracking. As I'm sure you're aware, GPS is only good for about 15 feet of accuracy. Cellular triangulation fills in the rest so that your nav system works. I happen to have an application were I have supplied a very large facility with handheld iPad minis. For a number of reasons, it would be nice to know were the devices are, with better than GPS accuracy. I tried out the GPS capture function in Filemaker, and its ok, but not great. It was able to find the location of the enormous building I was in, but this certainly wouldn't be accurate enough to determine the location of an ipad. So, I started checking into an indoor positioning system. A previous thread pointed me in the right direction. The specified item was not found.


      There are a handful of technologies such as wifi, bluetooth, magnetic fields used to triangulate or detect an indoor position. The one that caught my interest was IndoorAtlas . They use a compass sensor technique, which may not work for all applications, but its free and worth checking into.


      I was able to download the mobile app and map out a small section in my home. They have you overlay a blueprint image of the building on Google Maps, then you draw lines on the screen. You then walk those corresponding lines in the building. This is a cool technique of orienting the map and recording the magnetic compass variation using the ios device's built-in sensor.

      So now comes the fun part.


      They offer an SDK which enables you to build an iOS (or Android) app to make use of this data. It seems like this app running in the background would be able to supply FilemakerGo with pinpoint (or at least better than GPS) accuracy location data. From there you could show a the user where they were or record locationstamp type data. One of the applications suggested using it as a mapping tool for customer navigation within a large store.


      I have never never opened xCode and don't know quite where to begin. I'd love to learn more about these integrations. Can iOS even multitask like that? (Google Pause...and yes it can: Understand multitasking and background activity on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch - Apple Support) Any ideas on where to begin?


      GPS Accuracy is actually at least 7.8 meters with 95% confidence level: GPS.gov: GPS Accuracy

      For my purposes its as good as useless indoors.


      Here are some other similar techs worth checking out:

      Redpin - Indoor Positioning for the Rest of Us

      Wifarer • Indoor Positioning | Indoor GPS | Location Analytics


      Thank you

        • 1. Re: Indoor positioning system - HOWTO request

          There's a few apps that have been developed that are designed to return a user to FMGo after performing some task. My favorite is AlertFlag (formerly FMAlert?), it was most recently developed by a friend of mine (David Ramsey), and it basically lets you run timers at the system level instead of requiring FMGo to run On Timer Scripts.


          So this type of integration is possible, but it would not really be a background app, more likely it would be a URI protocol that has the ability to return the data and instructions back to filemaker.


          I myself am interested in this type of thing for a number of functions that I'd like to access in iOS via URI protocol. If you're going to devcon, track me down there and check on my progress, if not, then try contacting me in June-ish.

          • 2. Re: Indoor positioning system - HOWTO request

            I was able to delve into the SDK for IndoorAtlas over the weekend. It's probably not very difficult to pull this off, I'm just not experience with iOS app dev in xcode. I'll keep working on it though.

            • 3. Re: Indoor positioning system - HOWTO request

              Can you give an estimate of the accuracy of IndoorAtlas? I have not found an indication on their website.

              • 4. Re: Indoor positioning system - HOWTO request

                Two meters is the accuracy that IndoorAtlas reports.

                • 5. Re: Indoor positioning system - HOWTO request

                  Point #1 - background - I'm assuming that you want to upload the users position say once every 5 minutes?  Which iOS background mode are you wanting to use to run your app?  I don't think that there is one that will fit your bill, FETCH is your best option but iOS may back you off more than you want (in my experience it will), especially if your calculations are intensive.  You could try the Significant change background mode if there are enough different Wifi access points inside, then you will get a callback when you switch Wifi.


                  Point #2 You can possibly achieve what you want using iBeacons better.  You can do zone monitoring for up to 20 regions: ios7 - iBeacon in the background - Use cases - Stack Overflow

                  OR by doing background scanning for a particular Bluetooth LE device (you need to know the service UUID to detect in the background for iOS) you can detect the nearest BluetoothLE device once every 15 minutes or better and perform whatever background operations you want to then. I work for a company now that sells bluetoothLE devices that can do this if interested in this route.  You can get the distance from the BLE device to help pinpoint location.


                  Point #3, The iPad mini doesn't have GPS.  Location is all wifi based unless you have the 4G model.  But like you say, it's useless indoors anyway.

                  • 6. Re: Indoor positioning system - HOWTO request

                    Thanks for the pointers. These are all important things that I didn't consider.


                    Could the background app report to a remote database as a background task? This data would be easy to pick up in FM. I guess a JSON feed would be better, but I've never attempted either on iOS.


                    The iBeacons are something I'm looking forward to playing with, but for now, I think knowing where the iPad is gives us interesting tracking capabilities.


                    Rather than struggling with iOS, I wonder if it would be easier to use small external hardware. I'm into Arduinos, and am looking forward to tinkering with the Intel Edison. It should be able to accomplish these indoor positioning schemes all on it's own. I guess finding open source software could be a struggle though. Hmmm

                    • 9. Re: Indoor positioning system - HOWTO request

                      The background app in this case is free to do anything!  Personally I update an FM Database using the PHP api.

                      You get 8 seconds in the background, or even longer than 8 seconds if you request it.


                      Do you mean creating a device for employees to carry or create a device to detect iPads?  Creating hardware to track an employee, that is small enough to carry around IMO seems harder than an iOS app (if you are simply after more frequent updates then Android can scan for Bluetooth LE devices as frequently as you want)... Creating a device to detect iPads requires the iPad to advertise as a Peripheral, and I don't think iOS can do that in the background.