Aug 24, 2018 in Product

Localization technology

Positioning and localization are two terms that often get misused; localization is used where positioning is meant, or the other way around. This is understandable, because in a lot of contexts the difference between these terms doesn't matter, but that doesn't mean there is no distinct difference between the two.

Jip Eilbracht
by Jip Eilbracht
Mapiq interface showing People
Where is Kyle Robinson?

Positioning is determining the coordinates of a person or object, e.g. person A is at (20.535,12.235).

Localization is determining where a person or object is in human readable terms, so it often describes areas. For example, person A is in meeting room C.

The position 20.535,12.235 could lie inside meeting room C, but when you tell your colleague that you are at (20.535,12.235) and he probably still has no idea where you are, while if you tell him you are in meeting room C and he knows exactly where you are (and else he can use Mapiq's wayfinding feature to find out where meeting room C is ;).

However good localization is way harder to accomplish in comparison with positioning, even though a location often describes an area where a position describes a point. If you want to position someone you could use a WiFi positioning system, for example. Your phone/laptop/tablet connects to the WiFi routers inside your building and based on signal strength the distance between your device and the router can be determined. Using, for example, trilateration these distances can then be determined what the position of your device is, let say (20.535,12.235). But how can this position be converted into a location?

If you have the information about the contours and names of all spaces inside the building, you could look in which contour the position lies and say that that space is the location of the device. But what if the determined position is inaccurate and lies just inside the hallway, while the actual position is just inside the next meeting room? If you only have information about the position, you can not do much about this. But Mapiq has more information than only the position! For example, Mapiq could know that the owner of the device currently has a meeting inside that meeting room and could, therefore, determine that the location of the device is inside the meeting room, even though the measured position says otherwise. The other way around, Mapiq can determine a user is not inside the meeting room when the PIR sensors say that nobody is inside that room.

For good positioning, you need good sensors and good positioning leads to good localization, but if the positioning isn't perfect, other metadata can be used to make the localization still perform well. Due to Mapiq being a Smart Building platform combining all kinds of data sources into one system, we have the ability to combine the data and locate you accurately without needing very expensive sensors.

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