Accurate Everywhere Location-Based Services: "Are We There Yet?”

"Are we there yet?"  is a question you can all relate to when on a road trip (or a fully booked and most likely delayed flight) with your kids – you find yourself wishing you could push some secret turbo boost button that would accelerate the journey and bring you to your destination a lot faster – 

If you search the internet for terms like Location-Based Services (LBS), Indoor Positioning or Assisted GPS, you will undoubtedly come across numerous articles, papers and blog posts on what are rapidly becoming some of the most widely used services on mobile devices today.  Ironically, many of these discussions are posing just the same question "are we there yet?"  Can the mobile device and network provide "accurate everywhere" location information?  Does the mobile user experience seamless LBS whether indoors or outside in urban areas?  Does the industry have all the right tools to support enhanced emergency services (such as E911 in US) and enable the next-generation LBS for wireless users?

Although there are many different paths forward, one common understanding is that no singular location technology can provide the complete answer – "accurate everywhere" location will require a combination of multiple location technologies.  This poses the reality of significantly increased complexity in mobile device design and development.  As the leading expert in navigation simulation and location technology testing, Spirent is focusing on the integration of several device-centric location technologies:

  • Assisted-Global Navigation Satellite System (A-GNSS) - Satellite systems such as GPS, GLONASS, Galileo – includes assistance data over the control plane and user plane - provides better than 5m accuracy in clear sky
  • WiFi 802.11ac - Provides better accuracy indoors and dense urban environments – approximate 20-100m
  • Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) sensors - Accelerometers, magnetometers, and barometers – can provide accurate position when other technologies are not available (i.e indoors)
  • Cellular positioning - OTDOA, Cell ID, Enhanced Cell ID – works wherever there is cell coverage – OTDOA may provide accuracy of 50 m or better while Cell ID is 1000m or worse

Considering the annual growth of LBS is projected to be 20% through the next 5 yearsi, with over 50% of E911 calls originating indoorsii, and 70-80% of wireless data containing geographic contentiii, there is a sense of urgency in the design and development of next-generation LBS-enabled devices.  Mobile device developers need a way to test the integration of these technologies in the lab – utilizing real-world scenarios that are repeatable and reliable - analyzing and debugging real-time logging and feedback on the Device Under Test (DUT) – they need a turbo boost button.

With this need in mind, Spirent has recently launched a dedicated tool, Hybrid Location Technology Solution (HLTS) – a much needed accelerator – the turbo charger for the mobile device or location technology developer.  It is the first test solution to integrate four different location technologies and offer two different test modes: 1) simulation and 2) measure & playback. By providing a repeatable and reliable multi-location environment in the lab, HLTS helps developers optimize the performance of their technology.  With Spirent’s HLTS, R&D is in for a much faster ride – destination: "accurate everywhere" location.

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