TDK INTRODUCES INDOOR POSITIONING SOLUTION, VENUE®
TDK’s indoor positioning solution VENUE® can accurately track people and objects in indoor environments where GPS/GNSS signals are unavailable.
By collaborating with the latest technologies that allow service robots to traverse office buildings, hospitals, and warehouses, VENUE® has great potential to dramatically raise the efficiency of managing people and objects, alleviate labour shortages, and boost productivity.
VENUE®—a groundbreaking indoor positioning system solution
TDK’s VENUE® indoor positioning solution is designed to determine the location of people and objects using smartphones or dedicated terminals. It enables the real-time visualization of the locations of moving objects, such as smartphones with dedicated apps installed, or forklifts and self-propelled robots equipped with dedicated terminals.
VENUE utilizes Earth’s native geomagnetism for positioning. Geomagnetism exhibits a unique magnetic pattern at each location due to interference with structures like rebar and metal, and VENUE leverages this uniqueness. The geomagnetism of a target area is surveyed and combined with location information from a conventional map to create a “geomagnetic map” in advance. Positions can then be determined from the magnetism detected by magnetic sensors on smartphones and dedicated terminals.
Compared to indoor positioning solutions such as those based on beacons (Bluetooth), VENUE offers superior expandability and cost-effectiveness because it requires only a minimal number of wireless devices to be installed. VENUE also references RSSI values (signal strength) from existing Wi-Fi access points to enhance positioning accuracy.
VENUE’s high-precision, wide-area positioning and low-cost implementation enable it to visualize the real-time presence of employees in offices as well as the movement of workers and objects in factories, warehouses, construction sites and hospitals. But VENUE’s possibilities can go much further—it can provide even greater value by coupling it with other solutions. One such example is a validation trial conducted for a potential collaboration with ugo (pronounced “you-go”), a next-generation avatar robot from ugo, Inc.
Collaborative robots expand range of utilization
Featuring two arms and mobility functions, ugo is a next-generation avatar robot that can safely travel autonomously, thanks to multiple sensors including LiDAR. It can be deployed in place of humans for security and equipment inspection at facilities, inventory work and other applications.
In an experiment with TDK, an environment was created after a smartphone with VENUE installed was carried by ugo, that enabled the positioning of ugo on VENUE as it circulated along a programmed route. This enabled to verify that the position of a person holding a VENUE terminal and ugo could be visualized simultaneously on the same screen.
Since ugo is equipped with a camera that covers a 360-degree field of view, if a suspicious person or object is encountered, it can conceivably be used to confirm its location in real-time on VENUE. In addition to security and inspections at facilities, the practicality of unmanned asset management was examined by having ugo carry scanners for barcodes, QR codes, RFID tags and other asset management tags.
This is an example of collaboration between VENUE, which is capable of high-precision positioning of people and objects and can be integrated with asset management solutions such as RFID—and ugo, which can safely drive itself along a regularly scheduled route. Because it doesn’t rely on human labour, it can be an effective solution to a problem many industries are facing today: workforce shortage.
Partnership between VENUE and ugo opens new possibilities
VENUE, as mentioned earlier, requires the creation of a geomagnetic map of the target area before positioning can begin. Until now, a person with a smartphone had to conduct the survey. If the same process can be accomplished with ugo, not only would it cut the time required to set up VENUE, but it could also enable service in areas that are difficult for humans to access physically.
TDK is determined to maximize the VENUE’s value by combining it with other solutions, thereby helping solve a wide range of societal problems.