Dr Niki Trigoni, Dr Andrew Markham and Dr Traian Abrudan from the University of Oxford’s Department of Computer Science will investigate the feasibility and accuracy of a positioning system based on low frequency magnetic fields. This system will enable the tracking of humans and robots in any space, indoor or outdoor. The capacity to track the movements and locations of multiple individuals in 3D will aid the work of our project team from Queen Mary University of London who are working on remote sensing of emotions. The tracking information of an individual will show how long they spent in a particular area; if they travelled through the area with another individual and how closely (proximity) they interacted with other individuals.
Capturing the location and orientation of individuals will be challenging for two reasons. First, public space interactions tend to occur both outdoors and indoors, and when indoors, GPS technology typically fails. Second, indoor positioning systems (e.g., WiFi, WiFi SLAM, ultrasound based systems) that have been developed so far are not accurate enough to capture location information in cluttered indoor environments with cm level accuracy.
In order to address this challenge Dr Trigoni and her team propose to develop a localization system based on low frequency magnetic fields. This technology has already been shown to yield accuracy in the context of underground animal tracking. However, the sensors used in that setting are too large and impractical to deploy in an indoor environment. In this project, we propose to design and use small magnetic beacons that generate low frequency fields. These fields will then be sensed by low-power miniature receivers carried by individuals and robots, thus enabling them to position and orient themselves relative to the beacons.
Image by Stephen Coles on Flickr