When talking about location tracking, we often hear the same question: why can’t GPS be used indoors?
At present, GPS is widely used and well-known for outdoor positioning applications, such as navigation for driving. However, GPS technology struggles to obtain signal and accuracy in indoor environments. Because people spend more than 70% of their time indoors, there remains a strong demand for technologies to deliver indoor location services.
There are two main reasons why GPS can’t be used indoors: low signal strength and low accuracy.
First, the power of the GPS signal from the satellite is low, and after traveling a long distance, the signal strength arriving at the GPS receiver is even lower–barely enough to be usable. The signal is further compromised by any blockage between the antenna and the sky. In most indoor cases, GPS signals will be blocked or reflected by walls and cannot enter the room. As a result, satellite signals cannot be received properly, so it is impossible to calculate location due to the insufficient signal strength inside the room. While it is possible to position some GPS devices near a window to receive satellite signals, this is not always possible or practical in every building or indoor environment.
Second, many elements affect the propagation of GPS signals and therefore affect the accuracy of the system. While some of the more sensitive GPS chips can receive signals from enough satellites to determine a location, the resulting location is typically not accurate enough to be useful.
How Accurate is GPS Indoors ?
Typically, GPS can reach 5m-10m accuracy in an open outdoor environment which is far from the accuracy of half-meter required by many industrial use cases. The accuracy in indoor space is further degraded.
Indoor positioning, both tracking and navigation, is in high demand for many use cases. In B2C business scenarios, users may want to locate products in retail stores, boarding gates in airports, departments or patients in hospitals, booths in exhibition centers, cars in large parking lots, and much more. In B2B and industrial scenarios, indoor positioning that uses UWB RTLS technology can provide accurate location information for assets, people, vehicles and infrastructure, provide awareness and visibility for safe and efficient operations, in environments such as large distribution centers, underground mining sites, track operation paths, and more.
These demands for indoor location visibility have promoted the development of indoor positioning technology. Today, we can find several indoor location systems based on wireless technologies on the market, but UWB consistently outperforms other signals for industrial RTLS. Learn more about how Redpoint’s patented technology is solving indoor location tracking and navigation.