Intel made several announcements at MWC 2015, including a new chipset for wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi) in mobile devices. This new chipset, the 8270, include in-chip support for indoor location positioning. Below we explain their technology and show a video of it in action. With this announcement, Intel joins Broadcom, Qualcomm and other chip makers in moving broad indoor location positioning into mobile device hardware.
The transition of indoor location positioning into chips is a trend identified in the newest Grizzly Analytics report on Indoor Location Positioning Technologies, released the week before MWC 2015. By moving indoor location positioning from software into hardware, chips such as Intel's enable location positioning to run continuously and universally, without using device CPU, and with less power consumption.
Intel's technology delivers 1-3 meter accuracy, using a technique called multilateration, generating a new location estimate every second. While 1-3 meter accuracy is less accurate than some other technologies that deliver sub-meter accuracy, most systems with sub-meter accuracy require dedicated infrastructure or preparation on a site-by-site basis. Chip-based approaches like Intel's can work universally.
While many applications need sub-meter accuracy, universal and continuous technology can deliver indoor location positioning to a wide range of applications, including social networking, picture geotagging, friend-finding and location-sharing, location-based reminders, emergency call geolocation, and more.
Intel's chip uses standard protocols to access the locations of 802.11mc-compliant Wi-Fi access points in area, and uses 802.11mc's Fine Time Measurement to measure the distances between the device and each access point. Multilateration then gives the device's location, the place that is the specified distances from the various access points.
The video below shows their technology in action, moving around the Intel booth at MWC. It's important to remember that this technology demonstration is based only on Wi-Fi based positioning, and does not incorporate motion sensing or other complementary technologies. Presumably a production-ready system would incorporate sensor fusion motion sensing to deliver an even smoother and more accurate experience. Given that, this demo is even more impressive.
For more details on indoor location technologies from over 150 companies, see the latest Grizzly Analytics report on Indoor Location Positioning Technologies. For more on chip-based indoor location positioning, see a video of Broadcom's technology here and details of Qualcomm's chips here.
Here's the video of Intel's technology demo:
We're looking forward to having chip-based indoor location positioning of this sort in our next smartphones!