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Fujitsu Develops Platform Technology to Provide Location-Aware Services to Smartphones and Tablets

Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd.

Kawasaki, Japan, May 15, 2012

Fujitsu Laboratories Limited today announced development of web-based platform technology to provide location-aware services(1), which are applications or data tailored to a user's place, to the user's smartphone or tablet.

In tandem with the rapid increase in cloud services that can be used with smartphones and other smart devices, there is a growing burden being placed on users with the process of selecting necessary services and accessing critical information. Traditionally, for a company to develop its own location-aware services—which are complex services that quickly switchover depending on minute-to-minute changes in a user's place or situation—it was necessary to independently develop software for functions such positioning, place-recognition, and delivery of specific functions based on the user's location. In addition, there was no single technology that could be used for positioning both indoors and out.

What Fujitsu Laboratories has done is to develop a platform technology for location-aware services that, based on sensing data from a smart device, determines the user's location and provides pre-registered services in response to that place. It has developed location-management technologies that can use different positioning technologies depending on conditions, and can convert a measured position (coordinate) into more abstract position information (such as a meeting room or other predefined area).

Developers can use this technology to focus on developing higher-level services, enabling users to benefit from location-aware services in a variety of situations. For example, this could be used at a medical facility where, as a nurse enters a patient's room, that patient's information appears on a smart device the nurse is carrying. This would increase the efficiency and accuracy of care.

Details of this technology are being presented at Fujitsu Forum 2012, running May 17–18 at Tokyo International Forum.

Figure 1: Location-aware services

Background

The rapid rise in popularity of mobile broadband and smart devices such as smartphones and tablets is now leading to the emergence of an environment where services (applications and information) are always accessible via these smart devices. But as the number of services accessible from smart devices grows, finding the right one is becoming increasingly burdensome for the user. This has heightened the need for location-aware services, in which IT systems recognize the user's place or condition and present services tailored to the user's circumstances, saving the user time and effort (Figure 1).

Technological Issues

To develop in-house integrated systems that connect smart devices to the cloud via wireless networks and that switch between different services depending on minute-to-minute changes in a user's place or situation, companies have had to independently develop software components for the positioning functions, place-recognition functions, and functions that provide specific services based on the user's location.

Also, while service provision is necessary both indoors (offices, public facilities, homes) and out, as both environments are important venues of human activity, GPS signals do not penetrate indoors, making that an insufficient technology for positioning and useless for providing fine-grained services.

Fujitsu's New Technology

Fujitsu Laboratories has developed a platform technology for unified services that, based on sensing data from a smart device, determines a user's location and provides pre-registered services to that device. This technology has the following features.

1. Cloud-based location-aware platform technology simplifies service development

Fujitsu Laboratories has developed a basic set of functions that gathers sensing data from mobile devices into the cloud, and compares that with predefined place definition information (area information) to determine entry/exit of a place (place determination). Based on this information, it selects a predefined service, and automatically distributes it to the mobile device or executes it (service distribution). This makes it possible for developers, without worrying about device type or communications layers, to build an integrated system that, in connecting smart devices to the cloud via a wireless network, switches between services in response to a user's constantly changing place or condition. Regarding the connection between the mobile device and the cloud, this technology does not indiscriminately send large volumes of sensing data to the cloud. Instead, it efficiently sends only what data is needed. It is also tolerant of spotty wireless networks, can temporarily cache data during network outages, and can resend the latest information upon reconnecting (the "smart event bus").

Figure 2: Location-aware service platform architecture

2. Location management technology with plugins for different positioning engines

In addition to GPS positioning technology, which is widely used outdoors, methods have been developed to allow for positioning indoors. A number of methods have been suggested for this, including IMES (Indoor Messaging System), which extends GPS signals indoors; Wi-Fi positioning, which uses wireless LAN access points; and pedestrian dead-reckoning technology, which use sensors built into mobile devices, such as accelerometers, gyroscopes, and compasses. So far, however, no single technology has emerged that delivers reliable positioning.

Fujitsu Laboratories developed location management technology that can use different positioning engines depending on conditions, and that can convert a measured position (coordinates) to a more abstract 'place' (such as a meeting room or predefined area). This makes it possible to combine multiple kinds of sensing data from different devices, and to provide a high-level service that is independent of any particular positioning technology.

Figure 3: Location Management Technology

Results

With this technology, companies can use multiple positioning technologies, depending on circumstances, and can develop services that are independent of any particular positioning technology for location-aware services suited to different situations.

For example, this could be used at a medical facility where, as a nurse enters a patient's room, that patient's information appears on a smart device the nurse is carrying. This would increase the efficiency and accuracy of care. Or it could be used to provide a mobile environment that shows all of a user's business applications when the user is at the office, removes business data and customer data when the user is in transit, and reveals customer information when the user is visiting that customer.

Future Plans

Fujitsu Laboratories is working on incorporating this technology into SPATIOWL, a cloud service that uses positional information, and anticipates practical implementations in 2013. As a step toward the "Human Centric Intelligent Society" that Fujitsu Laboratories seeks to realize, the company plans to continue with R&D that will bring this platform technology to a higher level.


  • [1] Location-aware services

    Services that deliver information tailored to the user's location.

About Fujitsu

Fujitsu is the leading Japanese information and communication technology (ICT) company offering a full range of technology products, solutions and services. Over 170,000 Fujitsu people support customers in more than 100 countries. We use our experience and the power of ICT to shape the future of society with our customers. Fujitsu Limited (TSE:6702) reported consolidated revenues of 4.5 trillion yen (US$54 billion) for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2012. For more information, please see http://www.fujitsu.com.

About Fujitsu Laboratories

Founded in 1968 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Fujitsu Limited, Fujitsu Laboratories Limited is one of the premier research centers in the world. With a global network of laboratories in Japan, China, the United States and Europe, the organization conducts a wide range of basic and applied research in the areas of Next-generation Services, Computer Servers, Networks, Electronic Devices and Advanced Materials. For more information, please see: http://jp.fujitsu.com/labs/en.

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Technical Contacts

Smart Communication Systems Lab, Human Centric Computing Laboratories

E-mail: E-mail: las-pf@ml.labs.fujitsu.com
Company:Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd.


All other company or product names mentioned herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. Information provided in this press release is accurate at time of publication and is subject to change without advance notice.

Date: 15 May, 2012
City: Kawasaki, Japan
Company: Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd., , , , , , , , , ,