A new technique for measuring the speed and distance of moving objects in indoor environments in real-time has been developed by a group of researchers from North Carolina State University. This new technique will help the navigation technologies and systems in robotics, drones and even for pedestrians for finding their way around an airport. This new approach is called Wi-Fi assisted Inertial Odometry (WIO) that uses accelerometer technology and unique arrangements of Wi-Fi signals to track objects in real time.
WIO uses Wi-Fi as velocity sensor to precisely track how far something has moved. The underlying principle for WIO is the same as sonar, the difference is that WIO uses radio waves instead of sound waves.
Many smartphones and similar devices use integrated technology that we call it inertial measurement unit (IMUs) for calculating the distances of devices or how far a device has moved. But this technology suffers from big drift blunders. It means that even minor inaccuracies can rapidly become exaggerated.
In outdoor settings, many devices use GPS to make their inertial measurement units or IMUs accurate. However, this doesn’t work in indoor areas, where GPS signals are variable or nonexistent.
The researchers wanted to test the WIO software but faced with a problem; they could not access the Wi-Fi network interface cards in regular devices such as drones or smartphones. The researchers created a sample device that could be used in combination with other devices in order to address the problem.
The researchers found that using WIO improved a device’s speed and distance calculations dramatically. For example, without WIO, the devices calculated distance with a margin of error from 40% to 49% while the devices using WIO, calculated distance with a margin of error ranging from 5.9% to 10.5% which is way more precise.
This technique can be used to accurately measure the distances and speed of moving objects in indoor areas in real time.