Innovative research at the University of Cyprus has led to the development of new state-of-the-art technology for “Smart” mobile phones. The award winning technology is now being exploited for commercial purposes by a large international hardware and software company in Taiwan.
The innovative system Airplace, which is the product of collaboration between two research groups at the University of Cyprus, enables a very precise identification of the location of person or objects in large indoor spaces, where the use of GPS is not possible. Airplace which was developed specifically for operation via smartphones, is an Android smartphone platform for real-time positioning and tracking inside large buildings (e.g. airports, museums, shopping malls, universities). The system operates using existing WiFi infrastructure within buildings and exploits signal strength measurements from surrounding WiFi access points which are received by the mobile device during positioning. These features enable easier and cheaper installation of the indoor positioning system in large buildings, whilst at the same time facilitating fast and efficient access to anyone who owns a smartphone and wishes to use the system.
In today’s society, there is an increasing need for the development of systems and algorithms capable of indoor positioning and tracking. The massive availability of mobile devices combined with the fact that people tend to spend most of their time in indoor environments, has created the need for “smart” electronic systems capable of processing and transmitting information within buildings. This has motivated the development of indoor positioning algorithms that rely on the existing wireless network infrastructure, to track individuals and assets, detect possible events, as well as enable autonomous robot navigation. Provision of accurate and reliable location estimates is the key issue for the proliferation of such applications. Although satellite-based positioning, e.g. Global Positioning System (GPS), achieves high levels of accuracy outdoors, it is not applicable in urban canyons or inside buildings due to the severe attenuation or blockage of satellite signals.
The Airplace technology can be particularly useful in large indoor spaces. The system can, for example, assist with the location of medical equipment in hospitals during an emergency. It can also be used in museums or exhibitions, to help visitors locate the position of particular exhibits, whilst simultaneously accessing the relevant audio descriptions. The system is also capable of helping to locate a child lost in a large busy area.
This collaborative research was facilitated and led by Professor Christos Panayiotou, at the KIOS Research Center and Assistant Professor Demetris Zeinalipour responsible for the Data Management Systems Laboratory (DMSL) of the Department of Computer Science, both at the University of Cyprus.
The newly designed Airplace indoor positioning system on Android smartphones, also won the Best Demo (1st prize ) at the 13th IEEE International Conference on Mobile Data Management (MDM’12), IEEE Computer Society, which took place in Bangalore India on July 23-26 2012. The award for the demo was given to the research team coordinated by PhD Candidate Christos Laoudias, at the KIOS Research Centre, and comprising of undergraduate students from the Computer Science Department, George Constantinou, Mario Constantinides, Silouanou Nicolaou.
Demonstration video for the Airplace system:
For further information about KIOS : https://www.kios.ucy.ac.cy/
For further information about DMSL : http://dmsl.cs.ucy.ac.cy/
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