How IoT Allows Precise Location-Based Tracking

Feb 9, 2022 5:52:55 PM

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The Internet of Things (IoT) sees most of its usage in the domain of asset tracking. Companies can make better decisions about their products if they can keep track of where their precious cargo is and therefore, location-based applications of IoT have always been dominant use cases.  

The number of things that can be tracked with IoT technology is on the rise due to technology-driven reductions in size and cost. This has helped to include a lot more things in the roster of possible IoT-trackable assets including totes, trailers, pallets, containers, and associated gear. IoT asset trackers are extremely efficient and involve barely any power and processing constraints.

Once an enterprise has narrowed down its exact purpose for adopting IoT-based asset tracking, it can go on to explore which location-based service technology it could adopt. Depending upon the application, a variety of wireless connectivity alternatives can be leveraged including cellular, Low Power Wide-Area Network (LPWAN), and Bluetooth (BLE). In terms of identifying the exact location, state-of-the-art Location Based Services (LBS) are the way to go these days.

In this article, we will talk about why IoT is paving the way for location-based asset tracking and we will go on to discover which technologies are employed for this purpose.

Location Tracking And IoT

The most lucrative and actionable asset in the technology industry today is data. In the domain of IoT technologies, location data which includes coordinates based on latitude and longitude is the most valuable type of data used. Various sectors and industries employ the capabilities of IoT, process and utilize location data in different ways.

The supply chain management sector tracks assets as they move across the global landscape. The addition of tracking capabilities doubles up as a massive advantage increasing the efficiency of the supply chain management workflow. In the automotive industry, on the other hand, a car can be tracked right from the assembly floor to the road and features like location-based weather and improved distance calculation can help in better navigation.

In the healthcare industry, location comes into play for wearable devices that monitor patients' conditions. Locating and tracking wearable devices remotely can help physicians of elderly hospice patients ensure their safety throughout their treatment duration. Trainers and dieticians can track the calories consumed and burnt based on location-based tracking in fitness or health bands, and wearable cameras.

The Contextual Analysis Of Location

The entire value of using IoT for location-based tracking is the contextual aspect of the location data. The achievement of an intended outcome arising from any business or industry-specific need has to do with the contextual analysis of the location data. Different businesses depend on outcomes such as the weather information of a locality or the availability of eateries with respect to a location.

The capabilities of location platforms can be utilized for the contextual analysis of location data. These platforms can help build the agility and scalability of businesses by providing easy access to location data and algorithms from various providers. Additionally, businesses would get to keep the total cost of ownership through build-once solutions.

A scenario wherein you need to reroute your smart car because of a missed detour and require the navigation system's assistance looks different to an IoT developer. Finding a new route involves the developer having to fetch location data and passing it through a series of algorithms to get the desired output which is the new route. To bypass having to do this in every iteration, real-time LBS is preferred.

Most Widely Used LBS-IoT Combinations

Industry stalwarts are leveraging LBS for helping them navigate the harsh and uncertain IoT ecosystem. This helps them with visibility, efficiency optimization, better control, and interpreting the constant flow of data being generated by IoT sensor-embedded machines. Here are some of the widely implemented LBS alternatives:

1.Global Positioning System (GPS)

While IoT can supply the data about a vehicle's condition when it is in a crash or is broken down, GPS provides the actual location information for emergency services or a repairman to reach the location. GPS and IoT form a complementary combination to supply the concerned control center with a usable set of interconnected data. 

So, while IoT provides you with real-time information about a device's operations, GPS supplies the physical coordinates of the device itself. A global network of navigation satellites provides spatial information about a particular area or device. An asset tracker picks up microwave signals from these satellites. The IoT system then triangulates the exact position to the nearest meter by applying concepts of trigonometry and geometry.

2.Cellular Tower Triangulation

The primary application of cellular tower triangulation in IoT is for indoor asset tracking. This concept involves the calculation of a device's distance from the cell tower based on the signal strength. The multiple antennae on cell towers make it possible to know the exact direction of a device with respect to a device. The combination of all these factors allows users to determine the location of an IoT device.

An advantage of cellular tower triangulation is that a very large-scale IoT ecosystem can be set up due to the widespread availability of infrastructure ready for use. Additionally, cellular signals can travel over long distances making their utilization for location-based services a no-brainer. All one needs to do is to attach a cellular antenna to an IoT device, tune into a cell network, and begin tracking the device.

3.WiFi Access Point Triangulation

A concept, known as fingerprinting, in IoT involves the use of existing WiFi infrastructure to get location information with specialized information for the same. WiFi-based systems can also use packets sent to and from asset tags of devices which also come with a timestamp. If the router infrastructure is set up evenly and densely, this can facilitate very accurate IoT-based location identification.

ALSO READ: What’s the State of IoT in the Real World?

Leveraging IoT Can Get The Most Accurate Location Information

Location-based services that integrate one of the above-mentioned technologies with IoT can provide some of the best methods for asset tracking and identification of devices. Moreover, if battery-powered asset location trackers are not feasible for your supply chain workflow, the best go-to alternative for you is an IoT solution. To know what Daffodil can do for your asset tracking and IoT requirements refer to our IoT Development Services page.

Allen Victor

Written by Allen Victor

Writes content around viral technologies and strives to make them accessible for the layman. Follow his simplistic thought pieces that focus on software solutions for industry-specific pressure points.