One of the best demos I’ve seen at the Qualcomm 5G Summit is the 5G Positioning Evolution which uses a combination of 5G signal and Artificial Intelligence to yield a device’s positioning with a 1-feet precision.
You may be aware that indoor positioning for consumers has been in development for more than a decade. However, you still don’t have access to anything remotely practical such as in-mall positioning services.
There are many reasons for this. Indoor positioning systems need specific infrastructure, which no one wants, and they use wireless protocols that are not standard. Low position accuracy can occur if the receiver and emitter are not in direct sight. The signal may also pass through obstructions like trees, which can cause interference.
Qualcomm’s approach to 5G positioning is two-fold. First, 5G positioning makes use of the wireless communication infrastructure. It’s already there and not installed solely for location services.
The 5G signal is sent by your phone or other 5G device to 5G access points nearby with a time stamp. It transmits very little data and requires virtually no bandwidth.
Each access point receives the signal at a slightly different time, and from there, it’s possible to triangulate the emitter’s position. It’s the same principle as the GPS system, but indoors. This is a practical and ingenious solution.
However, that’s not quite enough. There are many situations in which walls, corners, trees, etc. can be obfuscated. Signals can be obscured by walls, corners, trees, etc. All of these factors can lead to a precision of 8 yards that is not accurate enough for many applications.
That’s where the AI comes to the rescue. Qualcomm’s engineers have demonstrated that it’s possible to train a neural network to correct the environment’s interferences with the 5G signal.
The training consists in placing QR codes that would precisely mark 100% accurate positions and using this “ground truth” to train the AI. Engineers use the 5G positioning to train the AI. They then compare the ground truth data with it to correct incorrect results.
It works! It works in some cases. Precision in positioning went from 8-yards to 1-feetIt is quite remarkable.
Such accuracy is fantastic for consumer-level indoor positioning, but it’s also usable for industrial robotics. As more and more enterprises want to deploy private 5G networks in their facilities, this is a great “bonus feature” that comes with a 5G infrastructure.
Although this is a very convincing proof of concept, we don’t know when you and I could use such a feature in our everyday lives. The good news? Our 5G phones already have all the hardware required. Indoor location services will become more popular as 5G deployments get denser. We’ve never been so close to having a straightforward and accurate indoor positioning system. The video below will give you all the details.
Filed in. Find out more about 5G and GPS, Location and Qualcomm.