A new smartphone app could help field-based workers pinpoint exactly where they are using the Earth’s magnetic field.
Developed by Finnish researchers, the IndoorAtlas solution requires no extra infrastructure — such as WiFi or Bluetooth — and is accurate to about six feet, according to an article on ExtremeTech.
This could be a useful application for complex building infrastructures with hundreds of pieces of equipment that need to be serviced. Helping service technicians more quickly find the specific devices they need could improve their productivity.
To do this, companies would need to navigate through the system and know where the equipment is relative to where the workers are standing. Using technology like this helps you pull up an architecture diagram almost instantly.
Here’s how this indoor positioning system technology works: Every part of the Earth emits a magnetic field that then gets modulated by man-made concrete and steel structures, the ExtremeTech article explains.
Almost all smartphones have a built-in magnetometer, meaning the phone knows which direction you’re facing. This sensor is so sensitive that it can create magnetic field maps with an accuracy of four inches.
To create a map, simply draw a floor plan and then walk around a location — like an apartment building — and the magnetometer creates a map of your surroundings.
Run the IndoorAtlas service and, just like that, you have a detailed map of almost any modern building.
Source: ExtremeTech, July 2012