For IoT, alternative location services are better than GPS


Traditional location positioning such as GPS isn’t going to be suitable for a Location of Things world filled with Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, say experts. The centralized, anchor-like system we use now, as found in GPS, mobile network cell tower positioning services, and Wi-Fi-based location positioning, is going to be a problem. The usual suspects being bandwidth, excessive power use, and cost.

The problem is IoT devices are required to communicate with positioning anchors, whether it be satellites or radio towers. That’s bandwidth-intensive; it can use a significant amount of power to cover the distances, as well as to power the multiple chips needed. The system is also conceivably susceptible to congestion as the numbers of devices increases — projections are for billions and billions of IoT things worldwide, ultimately.

The solution is to get the IoT sensors to communicate among themselves, scientists from Tufts University say. Forget about accessing distant resources for a locating ping, and simply use an algorithm to figure out where the device is in relation to other sensors, they say.

“Centralized positioning can become unwieldy as the number of items to track grows significantly,” Tufts researchers say in a news release on the university’s website. So, get “the devices [to] locate themselves without all of them needing direct access to anchors.”

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