The kind of accurate geolocation offered by Global Positioning Systems has typically been difficult to apply indoors because metallic structures like buildings disrupt the Earth’s magnetic field, rendering compasses like the one found in many smartphones useless when inside. So map- and app-maker IndoorAtlas decided to spin these magnetic disturbances into something useful.
GPS is currently accurate to something like 9 feet. An Australian company says its new geolocation technology could shave that down to a few centimeters, if its hardware is rolled out across the world. The company, Locata, envisions a constellation of local “satellites”--known as “LocataLites”--installed in known locations across an area that allow devices to get a super-accurate fix on their locations.
The rise of readily available GPS-enabled devices was supposed to make losing one’s way a relic of a bygone era. But while GPS has undoubtedly changed the way we get around, it’s still imperfect – anywhere the satellite signal can’t reach might as well not be on the digital map because we can’t locate ourselves there. But researchers at NC State and Carnegie Mellon Universities may just have a solution. All they need to do is put radar in your shoe.
In Afghanistan, perhaps more so than in a small Polish town, it’s important to know exactly where you’re going. So you can imagine the frustration felt by Polish troops serving in Afghanistan when faulty GPS equipment told them that they weren’t in Afghanistan, but in one of several African nations or back home in the small town of Zielona Gora in Western Poland.
Our GPS-wielding smartphones have made it somewhat difficult to get lost, say, on the way to the museum. But if you’re waiting for the day your phone will also help you navigate to a specific painting once you’re inside, you might be waiting a while. The technology exists, but no single version is perfect. And a lack of a standout Indoor Positioning Systems (IPS) technology means there is no broad agreement on which technology should become the new standard.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.