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First Indoor Navigation on Commercial Smartphone

Chemnitz-based Pinpoint GmbH, a spin-off of Chemnitz University of Technology, presented precise positioning inside buildings with new UWB radio standard at the world's largest consumer technology trade show in Las Vegas in early January 2023 – Chemnitz University of Technology is involved in development

Technology for navigation outside buildings is commonplace today, but satellite-based positioning via GPS or comparable systems fails under canopies due to signals that are too weak. "With deviations of up to 30 meters, no usable positions can be determined even in large buildings, and even via WLAN and Bluetooth, improvements in indoor navigation are only possible in the meter range," says Dr. Marko Rößler, research assistant at the Professorship of Circuit and System Design at Chemnitz University of Technology and managing director of Pinpoint GmbH, which emerged from the university with the support of the SAXEED startup network as part of the EXIST program. Only the latest short-range radio technology, UWB, enables temporal resolution within a few billionths of a second. The abbreviation UWB stands for ultra-wideband. In addition to data communication, this radio transmission standard is also used for positioning.

With the help of this high-precision technology, the developers from Chemnitz succeeded in the positioning of UWB smartphones with an accuracy of 30 centimeters. Together with the UWB chip manufacturer Qorvo Inc., they presented their solution from January 5 to 8, 2023 at the "Consumer Electronics Show" (CES), the world's largest trade fair for consumer technology, in Las Vegas. This indoor navigation for commercial smartphones can be used, for example, to enable emergency services to reach emergency locations more quickly and directly, or to navigate deliveries of goods to the door of an apartment inside a building. "Since the UWB smartphones only receive signals from our radio sensors, they are untrackable. No information leaves the device, so users cannot be located externally," explains Rößler. Privacy thus remains "absolutely secure" to the user. "From our world premiere in Las Vegas, we expect new partnerships for the start of series production and integration in smartphones and smart devices," says Rößler.

The synchronization technology required for exact position determination was developed by Rößler and his colleagues in a working group at the Professorship of Circuit and System Design at Chemnitz University of Technology and has been filed as a patent application in Germany and as a PCT application. It was licensed to Pinpoint GmbH as part of a technology transfer funded by the EXIST program of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action.

"In the context of further research projects, Chemnitz University of Technology will continue to devote itself to the field of indoor localization in several fields of application made possible by UWB radio technology," says Prof. Dr. Ulrich Heinkel, head of the Professorship of Circuit and System Design. These include the "OPENER next" project, which was recently awarded the German Mobility Prize, the "CattleHub" project for the development of intelligent cattle management, and a planned project as part of the Smart Rail Connectivity Campus (SRCC).

For further information, please contact Dr. Marko Rößler, Professorship of Circuit and System Design at Chemnitz University of Technology, tel. +49 371 531-33590, e-mail marko.roessler@etit.tu-chemnitz.de

(Author: Mario Steinebach / Translation: Brent Benofsky)

Matthias Fejes

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