Apps to Pinpoint Indoor Locations

GPS usually works great outdoors, but if you are disoriented or ill in a large building waiting for an emergency response team, presently there are no smartphone apps today that can effectively be used for indoor navigation.

The FCC www.fcc.gov estimates than more than 10,000 lives could be saved annually with better and timely location information for 911 calls placed from cellphones, since many calls are made from indoor locations.

A National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) www.nist.gov team spent more than 18 months collecting data from four different smartphone models to facilitate the development of indoor navigation apps.

The data included smartphone sensor readings and radio frequency signal strengths. Researchers think GPS fixes would help indoor navigation apps assist users find their way inside unfamiliar buildings and could help emergency responders find victims or each other when seconds count.

To determine locations, NIST is sponsoring a competition called “PerLoc” https://perfloc.nist.gov/perfloc.php with the goal to generate the best apps from the developer community. Developers have until August 17, 2017 to create computer algorithms that can make sense of the data and then be able to submit their estimates of the smartphones’ locations.

NIST is offering cash prizes of $20,000, $10,000, and $5,000 to the top three submissions. The grand prize winner will also be flown to a conference in Japan to present their idea and demonstrate their app.

 

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