GPS navigation is incredibly useful and can even tell you exactly where you are on a roundabout. But, inside buildings, the weak GPS signals are hard to pick up and can suffer from multi-path reflections. Plus, in a multi-story building, there is no way of knowing which floor you are on when just using GPS.
Several ideas have been tried to solve this problem for indoor navigation such as dead reckoning with movement sensors but the solution that is now taking off uses Bluetooth beacons. Almost every smartphone can pick up Bluetooth signals and almost everyone has a smartphone, making the uptake of this technology very easy.
Each Bluetooth low energy beacon broadcasts its own unique identifier code over a range of up to 80 metres which is configurable. The signals from several beacons are triangulated by an app on the smartphone to provide a precise location.
In addition, the beacon can trigger promotional messages that are specific to the location (Point of Presence) such as a two-for-one offer in a nearby shop in the shopping mall or broadcast a URL for a web link that can be displayed on the smartphone to link the user to any type of information.
Beacon-based indoor navigation can be used in a wide variety of venues to provide not only location but also smart customer interaction with information and guidance. In an airport to guide passengers through the airport, right to the correct gate at the right time. Similarly at a train station or underground to find the right platform with the latest train times and updates on any delays or changes. In hospitals to guide patients to the right department. Museums or art galleries for guided tours with beacons triggering the information on the exhibits. Shows or exhibitions to guide people round and alert them to the speaker program. Supermarkets to help people find everything on their shopping lists plus provide them with special offers. Stadiums to help people find their seats, where the toilets are and the location of food outlets.
In fact, almost any indoor space could benefit from smarter interaction with people and provide them with a better, less stressful experience, enriched with useful information from their personalised guide.
Facility managers also benefit from deploying these beacons as they can be used to provide invaluable information on customer movements, bottlenecks, and effectiveness of offers etc. to provide real time business intelligence. The low cost in installing the beacons is easy recovered from the enhanced customer experience that brings people back.
Installation of beacons is easy as they are small and use a single standard (CR2450) Lithium coin cell. FUJITSU’s Bluetooth low energy beacons are robust and have been optimised to provide a life of more than two years before a battery change is needed. This is due to a combination of using the Low Energy Bluetooth standard and advanced pattern antenna design that provides optimal range with minimal power consumption. The beacons are qualified to Radio Act (Japan), FCC, CE, IC, and are Bluetooth certified (QDID) to ensure no interference.
Beacons are easy to incorporate into an app and complete system solutions are available from FUJITSU’s partner, indoo.rs (www.indoo.rs), that extend to complete app creation, semi-automatic beacon location mapping, and beacon inventory keeping including alerts for broken beacons, missing beacons or failing batteries.
Fujitsu is the leading Japanese information and communication technology (ICT) company offering a full range of technology products, solutions and services. Fujitsu Components Europe B.V. is responsible for managing the sales, marketing and distribution of its relays, touch panels, thermal printer mechanisms, wireless modules and connectors in Europe, Middle East and Africa. The company is headquartered in Hoofddorp, The Netherlands and has representatives all over Europe. For product information, contact Fujitsu via telephone at +31 (0)23 556 0910 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, please visit our website emea.fujitsu.com/components/.
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