Tracking a New Player in the Indoor-Positioning Industry

Comic books and geospatial technologies. The link has been revealed! (Unless it was all a dream.) Thanks, OF, Intro to GIS.

Remember the scene in the Dark Knight, when the police were evacuating all the hospitals in Gotham City because the Joker threatened to blow one of them up?

Well, perhaps what they really needed was not some dark, mysterious caped hero, but in fact Sonitor Technologies. Sonitor is one of the new entrants into the rapidly growing indoor-positioning industry. While most indoor-positioning technologies use either infrared or Wi-Fi electronics to quickly and accurately track the movement people and objects in an indoor environment, Sonitor has upped the ante: it has introduced the use of ultrasound tracking systems.

How does this all work? Well, each and every person and object that needs to be tracked has a small ID tag attached to it. The ID tag constantly emits a unique ultrasound wave that is picked up by receivers that are located in each room of the building. These receivers then send all of this information to a central computer, which displays the movement of the tracked people and objects. All of this is, of course, in real-time. Sonitor claims that because it uses ultrasound waves, it can locate objects down to the centimeter in any given room. Clearly, this is a lot more accurate than most GPS devices. Then again, that’s to be expected when we’re working with the size of a building rather than a country.

Right now, Sonitor is selling this technology mainly to hospitals, and it is easy to understand how valuable real-time tracking would be. Imagine urgently needing an extra hospital bed, or having to know exactly where a given patient is, or having to evacuate an entire city’s worth of hospital patients and you’ll see why. Then think of the new super-hospitals being built here in Montreal, and it seems odd that no one had thought of this earlier.

It is important to note how powerful this technology is, not only right now, but will be in the future. GIS can be used for a whole range of commercial and even malevolent purposes, and indoor-tracking is certainly part of this.

Hopefully, all the villains won’t be as evil as the Joker ( 🙂 )

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