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Tracking Pedestrians Indoors Using Their Smart Phones

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The embedded inertial sensors in many smartphones could be used to track the movement of smartphone users when indoors, even without global positioning systems.

Lancaster University's Shahid Ayub led a research effort that determined the embedded inertial sensors can be used for localization and tracking applications. Inertial navigation provides the necessary information relative to a specified starting point. People who are indoors could be positioned using a combination of the smartphone accelerometer and a built-in digital compass, which will become available in future smartphones.

Ayub's team investigated the potential of three different smartphone placement modes--idle, handheld, and listening--for use with pedestrian dead reckoning techniques to allow users to record the path they follow or different kinds of workplace and other monitoring requirements. "The technique could be used in underground tube stations, airports, [and] train stations where there is no infrastructure installed for tracking or navigation," Ayub says.

He notes that it also can be used for location-based service applications. "In big shopping malls it becomes easier to navigate to a target shop or meeting place, while in large offices and across industry it could be used to track employees and control movements of workers in restricted areas," Ayub says.

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