RTLS-Glossary for Beginners

Here you find a compilation of the most important terms used when talking about Real Time Location Services.  

Angle of Arrival (AoA)

Angle of Arrival is a method for calculating a position using Bluetooth Low Energy signals. Not only the signal strength is included in the calculation (see RSSI), but also the angle at which the signal is picked up. With the AoA method very precise positioning in the sub-meter range is possible. More about AoA here.

API

API stands for “application programming interface”, usually short “programming interface” is a program part, which is made available by a software system to other programs for connection to the system. An API is needed, for example, for connecting and integrating data collected by a beacon infrastructure into an existing enterprise resource planning system or similar.

Asset Tracking

Asset Tracking means the tracking of goods in mostly industrial use. This tracking also uses radio technology and the transmitter / receiver principle. For asset tracking with beacon technology, the items to be tracked – such as moving factory inventory – are equipped with beacons or other tags Modern tracking systems are increasingly relying on combinations of different technologies, such as RFID and beacon technology.

Beacons

A Beacon  is a small transmitter that sends signals on the Bluetooth low-energy standard with a range of up to 40 meters. Beacons send a signal at a specific time interval that can be assigned by the correct receiving device. In most cases, the device is a smartphone or tablet with the corresponding app. In the signal, an ID is transmitted with which each beacon can be identified. Meanwhile, a distinction must be made between iBeacons (Apple) and Eddystone beacons (Google). Eddystone beacons are in use in the context of the so-called Physical Web and, in contrast to iBeacons, can send a URL. In so-called audio beacons, no physical device is meant, but an audio signal inaudible to the human ear. Information similar to a watermark is modulated into the signal, for example about the location. The technology is therefore also called audio watermarking.

Blackwell

Under this brand Favendo sells its own high-quality iBeacons. The name for the beacons refers to the Blackwell Lighthouse on Roosevelt Island in front of New York. Blackwell beacons are developed and produced according to the highest European standards in Germany. Blackwell beacons are able to send their signals encrypted and are mesh-capable.

Bluetooth

Bluetooth is an industry standard for data transmission over short distances between devices via radio technology. Using this standard, devices can be networked at a distance of about ten meters. Maximum ranges of 75 meters can be achieved. Bluetooth currently means Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) in the context of location-based services. BLE distinguishes itself in comparison to the classical Bluetooth by a clearly reduced energy consumption. The Android operating system supports BLE since version 4.3 (mid-2013). Apple’s iOS operating system supports BLE since iOS 5. BLE is the wireless standard with which beacons communicate. More about Bluetooth.

Commander

Under this name, Favendo distributes the software part of its overall solution. Favendo’s Commander consists of backend, dashboard, Commander SDK and the optional MapView SDK. Commander is multi-client capable and can address different apps at the same time. The solution package also includes an optional white label app with pre-installed Map SDK.

Deployment

Planning and installation of a beacon infrastructure.

Eddystone

The Bluetooth Low Energy Beacon Profile Eddystone was introduced in 2015 by Google as an alternative to Apple’s iBeacon. It should be noted that this is not a hardware, but a software protocol that is flashed on beacons. The system, which was released as an open-source program and can be used on various platforms, named after a famous lighthouse in front of the coast of Cornwall, because the signal of the beacon is as simple as that of a lighthouse and works also only in one direction. It can be received by all Bluetooth enabled devices. The Google solution makes it possible to send not just an ID via Beacon but also entire web addresses. It is no longer supported by Google.

Fingerprinting

Fingerprinting is way of determining the position by means of WLAN infrastructure. Instead of determining the distance between objects and reference points, the fingerprint technique searches for characteristic matches of signals such as RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indication) and MAC address (Media Access Control). For this purpose, first a database acting as a “map” is created with the characteristics of the existing WLAN signals at a specific location and at a specific time. Normally “broadcasts” sent out by WLAN routers are recorded. In later operation, the smartphone sends the signals received within the WLAN infrastructure to a server. There, the signal strength is compared with the signal strengths stored in the “map” and then the position is estimated. This is in turn continuously sent back to the smartphone.

Firmware

Firmware is software that is embedded in electronic devices. In this case, it is the “operating system” of the beacon.

Gateway

This term generally refers to a transfer point and means above all a switching device in computer networks or a component (hardware and / or software), which establishes a connection between two systems. The term gateway implies that the forwarded data will be processed. In beacon technology, for example, the Beacon Tracker from the “Relay” series used by Favendo, which receive the beacon signals and forward them to a server, act as gateways.

Geofencing

Geofencing is an made-up word consisting of geographic and fence. Geofencing can be used, for example, to activate an immobilizer when a car leaves a defined zone. The zone can be e.g. a construction site, a festival area or a defined zone within a building.

Geotargeting

Geotargeting ( analogue zone alarm) is used when actions such as push notifications are not to be triggered at a certain point, but when entering, leaving or staying in defined zones, e.g. in the entrance area of an exhibition. For example, if a festival visitor who has installed the corresponding app enters the festival area and thus the defined radio signal radius, a push notification is triggered on his or her smartphone. This is independent of the point at which he walks through the imaginary fence.

Goolge Maps Indoornavigation

Google Maps Indoornavigation is not a technology, but a free service offered by Google. Google offers digital maps on which the user can also zoom into buildings. The service also recognizes different floors. More about Google Maps Indoornavigation.

GPS

GPS is a global positioning system, a global navigation satellite system for positioning in the open air. More about GPS.

Granularity

The term granularity is often simply used to describe the accuracy of positioning. A distinction is often made between presence, zone and position tracking. In the first case, the system only checks whether an asset is “there”, i.e. whether it is located in the building. In the second case, the system checks whether an asset is located within a certain zone (see Geofencing). With position tracking, the exact position of the asset is constantly tracked.

iBeacon

A beacon is a small transmitter that transmits signals with a range of up to 40 meters on the Bluetooth low-energy standard. Beacons send a signal at a specific time interval that can be assigned by the correct receiving device. In most cases, the device is a smartphone or tablet with the corresponding app. In the signal, an ID is transmitted with which each beacon can be identified. There is a distinction between the standards iBeacon (Apple) and Eddystone beacon (Google). Eddystone beacons are in use in the context of the so-called Physical Web and can, unlike iBeacons, send an URL.

Industrial IoT

In 1999, British technology researcher and co-inventor of the RFID chip at the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Kevin Ashton, used the term “IoT” to refer to the connection of physical things with a structure of virtual representations. Sebastian Berg, a scientist at RWTH Aachen University, prefers the German synonym “Industry 4.0”. While the American “Internet of Things” is more concerned with products, the focus of Industry 4.0 is on production. In the meantime, the term IIoT – Industrial Internet of Things is also being established in parallel for Industry 4.0.

Indoor Navigation

Means the flexible guiding and navigation of people within an infrastructure using an electronic output device. Similar to systems for outdoor use, the user is shown his route to a certain point on a screen or announced by the output device.

Infrastructure

The beacon installation in a building or defined area is commonly referred to as a beacon infrastructure. The term covers all software, hardware and firmware used.

IoT

Short for Internet of Things; 1999, the British technology researcher and co-inventor of the RFID chip at the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Kevin Ashton, with the term “IoT” referred to the connection of physical things with a structure of virtual representations. Sebastian Berg, a scientist at RWTH Aachen University, prefers the German synonym “Industry 4.0”. While the American “Internet of Things” is more concerned with products, the focus of Industry 4.0 is on production.

Indoor Positioning System

A system for positioning people or objects indoors. Similarly, sometimes Indoor Locating System or Real Time Locating System or Indoor Location Application Platforms (ILAP) are used. The heart of an IPS is the Location Engine, the part of the system where sensor data is converted into position data.

Location-based Services (LBS)

Location- based Services are mobile services that, with the help of location-dependent data, provide the end user with relevant content on the smartphone for him / her at this moment and at that location, or provide services of a different kind. Location-based services are used in many industries, such as in retail / stationary trade, in transport, in tourism and as a component of successful digitization in Industry 4.0.

Location-based Safety

Location-based safety is the prevention of accidents in high-risk work environments through the use of portable personal emergency signal systems (PNA). More about Location-based Safety.

Location-based Security

Location-based security is the prevention of crime at a specific location by means of portable, digital personal emergency signal systems. More about Location-based Security.

LoRaWan

With a range of up to 10 km in rural areas and 2 km in urban areas, LoRaWan (Long Range Wide Area Network) is one of the technologies with the highest range for positioning. More about LoRaWan.

Magnetic Field Measurement

This method of positioning makes use of the magnetic field of the earth. More about Magnetic Field Measurement.

Mesh

In this context short for mesh beacons. These differ from “conventional” Bluetooth devices in that they no longer only know point-to-point connections, such as between smartphones and soundboxes, but can use the mesh network protocol to build many-to-many connections , Not only can the data packets be routed through one or two devices, but the SIG specification for Bluetooth LE Mesh envisages 32,000 networked devices. Beacons take another step away from retail-only solutions to a true IoT key technology. This ability, which results in a wider range, makes Mesh Beacons extremely interesting in the areas of Smart Buildings and Asset Tracking.

Multi-Mode-Tracker

Multi-Mode Trackers are asset tags (see tag) from Favendos Channel Partner Actility/Abeeway. These tags can use different radio technologies, so they are not limited to BLE. Therefore they are particularly suitable for outdoor use. They show their full strength in combination with LoRaWan antennas. More about Multi-Mode Trackers.

NFC

NFC stands for Near Field Communication. Based on RFID, this technology is also an international transmission standard for wireless data transmission over short distances. More about NFC.

Omlox

Omlox is the name of an initiative to establish a new standard for positioning technology. The initiative is headed by German industrial machine manufacturing company TRUMPF. Omlox provides standardized interfaces enabling the interoperable usage of hard- and software elements from different suppliers using ultra-wideband technology and to integrate other locating technologies like RFID, BLE, GPS and mobile broadband. Some 60 companies are part of the initiative. Favendo is official Affiliated Partner.

On-Premises / On-Prem

Often erroneously also on-premise. On-prem means software that runs locally or refers to a licensing model for server-based computer programs. It is only since local use has increasingly been replaced by Software as a Service (SaaS) or Cloud Computing that the opposite term to “cloud-based” has emerged. In the area of RTLS, on-prem solutions are relevant above all for self-sufficient use on cruise ships and where the user attaches great importance to data security.

Physical Web

The Physical Web developed towards the end of 2014 by Google is an open source technology approach designed to better connect the physical and web worlds . This should allow smartphone users to interact with items or places in their environment without the need for an app. One of the building blocks of the Physical Web is the Eddystone URL. More about Physical Web.

Proximity Marketing

Proximity marketing ( analogue also Bluetooth marketing) means the location and time-based provision of content such as information or advertising content (offers, credits) on a user’s device. Proximity Marketing belongs to the RTLS or LBS. More about Proximity Marketing.

Packet

A data packet or simply “packet” is generally a term for self-contained data units that a sender sends to a receiver (a beacon controller).

Push/Pull-Principle

Push refers to the principle of iBeacons. Pull refers to the principle of Eddystone beacons. For example, in an iBeacon installation, such as an iBeacons-equipped mall, certain actions are triggered on its smartphone based on the recipient’s location. A customer in front of a shoe store, for example, automatically receives a push message with a special offer tailored to him. Prerequisite: The customer has installed the app of the store on his device.

In contrast to this, in the pull principle the customer finds an indication of further content in the physical web in the form of a URL in the message center of his smart device while in front of the store. This could, for example, be a special landing page with further offers from the shoe store The user has to become active himself and open the link to the landing page, he has to “pull” the contents. A big advantage is that the necessary app, for iPhones the apps Physical Web or Browse, is in most cases already loaded on the device of the user. A separate app of the advertising business is not necessary.

Positioning

Refers to the ability to determine the location or position of a person or an object (assets). More about positioning.

Positioning accuracy

With BLE beacons, an accuracy of three to five meters is guaranteed. VLC achieves a positioning accuracy up to 30 centimeters. Which technology is used depends therefore crucially on what you want to achieve with the positioning.

Push message 

Also push notification: Push notifications are messages that appear on the smartphone without opening the app. Push messages can also be received in the open app. Consumers show greater acceptance of marketing measures via so-called InApp pushes.

PropTech

Also Property Tech: is by definition part of modern technological developments and disruption in commercial building management. PropTech includes both the digitization of management and the use of location-based services and sensor technology in building control. More about Property Tech.

RFID

RFID means radio-frequency identification. This technology especially strong in logistic applications enables automatic and non-contact identification and static localization. An RFID system consists of a transponder and a reader. Data can be stored on the transponder – also called radio tag or RFID tag. In typical RFID applications such as access control or in warehousing and logistics, the range is typically 0.5 to 3 meters. More about RFID.

RSSI

RSSI stands for Received Signal Strength Indicator and describes a method for calculating the position with the help of BLE signals. The term beaconing is also used similarly. RSSI is the standard positioning method in many IPS and RTLS. With RSSI, accuracies of 1 to 3 meters are achieved. For this accuracy the term ” room accuracy” is also used analogously. The method is sufficient to even realize indoor navigation in buildings.

RTLS

Short for Real Time Location Solutions or Real Time Location System. The abbreviation followed location-based services and is used especially for the use of location-based services in industrial environments. Here in particular for tracking solutions, both for asset tracking and people tracking. In addition, the term is not limited to indoor environments.

Social Location-based Services

Social location-based services offer users the opportunity to inform their social environment immediately where they are. They offer the possibility to see if there are other friends in the building or in the area of the user and to communicate with them. More about Social Location-based Services.

SDK

A software development kit (SDK) is a collection of program code (parts). These program code components can be integrated into already existing programs. Favendo’s services (Asset Tracking, Proximity Marketing, Positioning / Navigation, Analytics) can be quickly and easily integrated into third-party systems as SDKs.

Solution Provider

Companies like Favendo not only provide hardware, but also work with the customer to develop tailor-made solutions to a specific problem. And this on the basis of the most appropriate technology. When choosing the provider should therefore be paid to sensor-agnostic solutions. This means that more than one standard technology is available to the provider and that he can possibly combine different sensors in his solution.

Tag

In this context, a beacon attached to an object or another (radio) transmitter.

Ultrasound

Ultrasonic positioning uses audio signals in the range between 18 and 22 kHz. The high-frequency, digital, acoustic signals are not perceptible to the human ear and are transmitted via standard loudspeakers, for example in smart TVs. More about Ultrasound positioning.

UWB

UWB stands for Ultra Wideband and, like BLE, denotes a short-range radio technology suitable for RTLS. With the help of UWB a very precise positioning is possible. The costs for the hardware and for setting up the sensor infrastructure considerably exceed the costs for a BLE system. In addition, such a high level of granularity is only required in a few industrial applications. For applications that require extremely high positioning accuracy, Favendo works together with AoA market leader Quuppa. More about UWB.

UUID

The UUID (Universally Unique Identifier) is a common standard identifier in software development. With the aid of the UUID all beacons of a network can be identified. For example, under the UUID, all beacons are grouped together under the control of a specific operator of shopping centers. The Major ID then designates all beacons within a certain shopping center, the Minor ID a specific beacon within the shopping center.

Visible Light Communication (VLC)

VLC was market-ready developed by Philips Lighting. The system is used in various supermarkets in France and Germany. Philips calls the positioning via light signals Indoor Positioning System (IPS). The IPS uses LED lights for local navigation and information transmission. More about VLC.

WLAN

The abbreviation for Wireless Local Area Network refers to a local radio network for data transmission. WLAN can also be used for positioning. The accuracy of the positioning is between five and 15 meters. Under ideal conditions, a location of 0.5 m would be possible. However, these are never achieved in practice. More about WLAN.

Zone Alarm

see Geotargeting.


Meet Favendo

Favendo is the trusted partner for superior Real Time Location Services. Our Team is committed to providing timely and cost effective solutions for cruise industry, large shopping malls, public venues, industrial surroundings and more. To offer our customers the most suitable system we partner with Quuppa and Abeeway. Come and meet Favendo.