Accuware at ISC West 2017

Our latest solutions for 3-D positioning and video analysis

The Accuware Team will be at the International Security Conference & Exposition, ISC West,  from April 5th to the 7th.ISC West 2017 bannerAt our booth we will demonstrate the latest features of products designed to deliver high reliability and location accuracy in a variety of applications. Our latest offerings include Video Positioning System (VPS) code-named Dragonfly, and Video Location Monitor.  These products expand Accuware’s portfolio, which harness multiple technologies to provide solutions for locating, tracking and monitoring people and mobile assets in the physical world.

VPS Dragonfly

An early version of VPS Dragonfly made its debut at CTIA 2016, the main trade show for the wireless industry.  At that time, VPS Dragonfly was able to estimate the location of a camera-equipped mobile device in 3-dimensions, with an accuracy of just a few inches. It determined its position by decoding visual markers placed around a venue.  The coordinates it produces include latitude, longitude, height off the floor and level (ex. 1st floor, 2nd floor, etc.), which makes it appealing for applications of autonomous mobile robots and drones.

The latest Dragonfly has learned new tricks: by first performing a “visual fingerprinting” of a venue with a device’s camera, Dragonfly can now take a snapshot anywhere around the venue and determine its location by interpolating that image into the database of “ambient visual fingerprints”.  The new system is also self-optimizing, in that it continues “learning” the environment, causing its resolution and location accuracy to improve over time.

This video shows a demonstration of the new VPS Dragonfly functionality as it would be seen when run on a drone:

Visit us at booth 6140 for a live demonstration of this product.

Video Tracker

Video Tracker is a new tool that delivers useful features for intelligent video analysis.  

Imagine a CCTV system displaying a video feed on multiple screens, under the watchful gaze of  several human operators.  Now imagine those operators suddenly wondering whether a person currently visible on the screen has appeared before.  Is that person currently on camera 3 the same one we saw on camera 6 about 20 minutes ago?  Have we seen this person earlier?  Perhaps earlier this morning?  At what time?  Was that same person present multiple times? When and where?

Now picture the CCTV feed been analyzed in real-time: people visible on the screen are being identified by their appearance, including body bulk, height and clothing color (face recognition is not used). Video Tracker detects individuals
Imagine a database containing small snippets of video collected over time, with annotations of who is visible on each snippet, when it was taken and where.  Incidentally, these snippets are referred to as “tracklets”, meaning “portions of a track”, a “track” being the sequence of physical positions of a given subject as it moves through physical space over time.

Once a person’s appearance is uniquely identified and categorized, this enables tracking the movement of that specific individual across multiple camera views over time.  In other words, classifying tracklets in real-time provides the ability to track individuals moving through a monitored venue over time.  Most importantly, the tracklets database enables visual search.

Visual search works as follows: knowing a specific individual’s appearance, it is possible to search the tracklets database to learn when and where that individual has appeared on screen over time.  Visual search is one of Visual Tracker’s key features.   Here is a demonstration.

As shown in the video, other key features of Video Tracker include the ability to perform traffic analysis, definition of geofences, and the visualization of the varying density of people present in a monitored area over a period of time.

Video Tracker heatmap

Regarding Video Tracker’s search feature, it is important to emphasize that the system does not use facial recognition, given the impracticality of this technology on relatively small and low-resolution video footage. Privacy considerations should take into account that Video Tracker’s features enhance video surveillance mechanisms already in place.

About us

Accuware is an engineering-driven company that develops products to serve a wide variety of industries.  We strive to provide cost-effective, easy to deploy and maintain products that are easy to integrate into complete solutions.  And our world-wide technical support coverage helps us ensure that our customers and partners succeed.

We work directly with customers, and through a network of Application and Implementation Partners, which gives us worldwide reach across many industries.

We will be delighted to meet you at ISC West 2017, booth 6140. We look forward to our in-person conversation about your requirements for location-aware applications.  Contact us for further information.

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Bluetooth Beacons for Tracking?

Bringing indoor location to the IoT world

As we know, Apple’s launch of iBeacons in 2013 started a gold rush in proximity-based applications. Since then we have become familiar with using the tiny, long-lived devices to trigger delivery of contextual information. Museum visitors get vivid displays about the exhibit they are approaching. Shoppers at bricks-and-mortar stores receive promotions when walking by a specific section of a store. And there’s more…iBeacons small form-factor

Later on came the systems that leveraged iBeacons’ ambient signals to provide location coordinates, latitude and longitude. And now, the latest systems enable efficient tracking of people and assets through a physical indoor space. How does it all work?

How beacons are used

Bluetooth beacons are small form-factor devices consisting of a radio transmitter and a battery in a tough enclosure. They are a class of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) devices that periodically broadcast their identifier; that is, they “advertise”. Nearby devices that “listen” for BLE signals react to these advertisements. Different behaviors are possible for the receiver of these signals. Some examples:

Proximity applications. iBeacons how proximity worksApple’s iBeacons protocol enables an app running on the client device to react to iBeacons placed at given locations in a venue. The app “listens” to advertisements, and upon detecting a specific identifier, it displays content downloaded from a server.

 

Device location by ambient signals. ble-signals-locatingAgain, iBeacons are placed throughout a venue. By first scanning the iBeacons’ signals, users build a database of iBeacons identifiers detected throughout the space. Client devices running Accuware Indoor Navigation can now obtain their physical location (latitude, longitude and level) in the site

Tracking mobile device with BLE receivers.
ble-beacon-trackingIn this case, BLE “receivers”, referred to as BLE nodes, are placed at known locations throughout a venue. This time, the BLE beacons are moving, attached to mobile assets or carried by people. Each beacon is configured to identify an asset or a person.

Note that this turns the iBeacon model on its head. It is the BLE beacons that move while the BLE nodes are static. When three or more BLE nodes detect the same beacon, the system can triangulate that beacon’s location. This is how Accuware Bluetooth Beacon Tracker works.

Summarizing, 3 models are possible: BLE beacons can be used either to trigger (contextual) proximity actions, to obtain indoor location or to perform real-time tracking. But, why use BLE beacons for tracking?

Tracking with BLE beacons

Here is our CEO demonstrating how Accuware Bluetooth Beacon Tracker works:

Let’s review what it takes to implement a tracking system based on BLE beacons.

BLE Node

BLE Node

System components include: iBeacons, BLE nodes, and a cloud-based server. iBeacons move around advertising their identifiers. BLE nodes collect the clients’ advertisements and upload that data to the server. The server estimates the clients’ locations relative to the BLE nodes’ known locations.

Simple, but why use BLE beacons instead of other technologies such as WiFi? Are there any advantages?  YES! The beacon’s long battery life. Let’s take a closer look.

Long battery Life

One of the big challenges of tracking movement using electronic mobile devices is their battery life. Imagine tracking patients at a hospital using mobile devices whose battery life is just a couple of days. That means recharging or changing the battery overnight every two days. Sony CR2032 coin batteryNow imagine tracking a valuable asset, like an EKG machine at an emergency room. How often would you want to have to recharge the battery? Now imagine tracking dozens, or even hundreds of people or assets. From the maintenance standpoint, it can be expensive and inconvenient to do it daily. Now, what if the battery charge lasted many months?

That is precisely what BLE beacons provide: extended battery life. This is because of their very low energy demand for simply advertising their presence, and the ability to configure the frequency of their advertisement, which is the major culprit in draining the battery.
There are several BLE beacons providers. All of them highlight battery life for a good reason.

What does it take to set up indoor tracking?

Bluetooth Beacon Tracker provides a dashboard for system administration and management. That’s where the setup process starts. The steps are:

  1. Physically place BLE nodes on each floor, in a grid pattern. BLE Nodes marked on floor planBLE nodes are simply plugged into regular power outlets.
  2. Upload one or more floor plans or maps to the dashboard
  3. Overlay and resize the floor plans on top of a Google map representation of the target venue, one floor at a time.
  4. Mark the location of each BLE node on the corresponding floor plan on the dashboard. Note that this process “anchors” the location of each BLE node to a latitude and longitude on a given level
  5. Register each BLE beacon identifier via the dashboard, and configure the system to receive data uploads from the BLE nodes.

And the setup is complete.

How does this work in a real application?

Tracking in real time the physical location of people and mobile assets is a critical need in many applications.  Tracking patients in a nursing facility, lift trucks in a warehouse, mobile medical equipment in a hospital, or children at a child care facility, all share a strong requirement to identify and locate in real time.  And very often, to learn where everyone and everything has been over time.

Radbeacon Dot tracking assetsSetting up an application takes a few steps:

  1. Configuring the BLE beacons’ identifier and its advertising frequency
  2. Recording the BLE beacon identifier via the system dashboard, to associate its identifier with a person or asset to track.
  3. Affixing the BLE beacon to the corresponding asset, or enabling a person to carry it.

BLE beacons must be configured with a unique identifier.  In addition, depending on application requirements, the frequency of advertisement should be adjusted to meet practical needs while maximizing battery life.  For example, advertising frequency could be set at 10 seconds to track patients in a hospital.  Tracking fast moving vehicles, such as autonomous robots in a warehouse may require more frequent advertisement. In all cases, you should refer to the manufacturers’ specifications to achieve the desired effect.

Would you like to try this system in your environment?  Contact us for details.

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Indoor location live at CTIA 2016

CTIA Super Mobility 2016 in Las Vegas, the event “about everything wireless”,  was bigger and better than ever.  A global audience descended on the Sands Expo for the yearly sensory feast on the latest technologies about the mobile world.  And once again, visitors to our booth had a chance to see our latest indoor location products in action.CTIA Super Mobility 2016 Continue reading

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Locate iOS devices indoors using iBeacons

Use iBeacons to continuously track iPhones, iPads

Assume you need to  track the whereabouts of iOS devices as users move throughout a venue. And your need to find their location continuously and with high accuracy. You also plan to deploy iBeacons to enable proximity-based applications.  Add Accuware Wearabouts for iOS, and now you have all the necessary ingredients for non-stop tracking and proximity.  And you can try it for free.iPhone Continue reading

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Indoor location technology at CTIA 2016

Accuware will be at CTIA Super Mobility 2016 in Las Vegas from Sept 7th through 9th, booth 6132.  This year we have, once again, new and exciting indoor location products to show off.

CTIA 2016 at Sands Expo in Las Vegas Continue reading

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Indoor location for iOS with iBeacons

Are you planning to deploy iBeacons at your venue?  How would you like to use them to provide indoor location–not just proximity–for iPhones and iPads?  Accuware has released an iOS app that does it.  And you can try it for free. iPhone close up Continue reading

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Caring for elderly loved ones

As life expectancy has doubled in the past decades, an unprecedented number of people are reaching their 80’s and 90’s, triggering a vast increase in the ranks of the elderly in countries around the world.  Their need for protection and comfort are expected to multiply.  How does technology help?  And more specifically: how can location technologies contribute?Elderly care Continue reading

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