Indoor fixes to aid GPS in location-based applications

April 11, 2013 // By Graham Prophet
BlinkSight and imec have jointly announced a single-chip indoor GPS solution: BlinkSight, a fabless semiconductor company working in real-time location systems (RTLS), has released the first single-chip ‘indoor GPS’ solution for RTLS and wireless sensor network (WSN) applications.

Based on ultra-low power impulse radio technology developed by Belgium-based research organisation imec, and the Eindhoven, Netherlands, Holst Centre, the new chip delivers real-time information to track and trace people and objects in indoor environments. Its combination of high accuracy, long range and low power consumption is ideal for both business and consumer applications.

BlinkSight CMO Guus Frericks comments, “Adding highly accurate indoor capabilities to connected devices such as smartphones paves the way for a broad range of consumer applications across ‘Internet of Things’ segments such as smart homes, offices and retail.”

BlinkSight’s system solution uses the ultra-low power ‘impulse-radio’ (IR) developed by imec and Holst Centre which enables real-time 3D location information that is accurate to within 10 cm. The device combines digital processing elements and sophisticated analogue radio functionality in a single chip, enabling superior performance at a low cost of ownership. It can operate in both the 3.1-4.8 GHz and 6-10 GHz bands for use around the world and seamless co-existence with other wireless technologies.

With an operating voltage range of 1.5 to 3.6 V, the new device is suitable for battery-powered applications. Together with its small form factor and low power consumption, this makes it suitable for integration into tags, wireless sensors, base stations and mobile devices. A base station equipped with BlinkSight’s technology could track and trace thousands of fast moving tags in real time. In addition the tags are interactive and capable of sending dynamic data for example, temperature.

The company says its solution is easy to install, and thanks to the collaboration with imec it has been able to bring a working solution to market very fast; there was a focus on minimising power consumption, tags powered by energy harvesting should be available soon. BlinkSight aims to bring a complete turnkey system to market and wants to work with industry leaders to bring accurate indoor fixes, to augment GPS capabilities, to connected devices.