There are multiple ways to track something or someone. Cellphone are using different method to be able to give you a precise location in most of the situation. The more global one is GPS, it works anywhere on earth but do not really work indoor. It is also costly (about 8$ or more) and power consuming. Outdoor your usually have a precision of 15 meters. The less precise one is triangulation : a message received by different antennas will be located by the network in an area covered by all these antennas. This solution works anywhere the network is covering and do not need specific power other than for communicating. The precision is usually from 500m to 10km.
The last usual method we use is the one we are going to implement in this post : the WiFi positioning. The tracker is listening for the WiFi access point around and ask one of the existing database knowing most of the WiFi location to get a position. This is working thanks to the crowding effort all of us are doing with our smartphone of capturing WiFi around us and associated locations. The WiFi solution is working where WiFi is, so usually in the cities ; around buildings. It works well indoor, better than outdoor where WiFi is less active. The precision is about 30-50 meters. The power consumption is lower than GPS.
Sigfox is a LPWA (Low Power Wide Area) network covering about 45 countries (as today) dedicated to low power autonomous devices aka IoT. Asset tracking is one of the best use-case.
The use of Sigfox with a WiFi tracker is allowing to create a low-cost tracker device, autonomous on battery from month to years, getting benefit in 45 countries of a WiFi + network localization.
This post will explain how to get started in this technology by using two standard, easy to use and low cost components allowing to get your prototype for about $5 of hardware.
New comer in the Sigfox ecosystem : the Wisol FM20R1.
Wisol have already changed the Sigfox module world by providing a solution based on the OnSemi design for transmitting on Sigfox network for about 2$. Now they are back with a full SoC solution for a really competitive price estimated under 15$. This solution is providing SigFox, GPS, Wifi, NFC, RF and includes an accelerometer.
I do not usually post more than a tweet when backing on a KickStarter project but as for this time there is a French guy included in the project, it is a good opportunity to do it !
The Domino IO project is an interesting platform to connect one of your home stuff ! It contains a powerful CPU, the network connectivity and all what you need to quickly make your own design.
This platform is really looking like the SparkCore under steroïd having eaten a Carambola engine. The chip is provided for $10 on Kickstarter ; this is 2.5 time less than carambola and 2 times less than Sparkcore. Sound like the missing element between RaspberryPi and Arduino.
The ESP8266 is a simple standalone addon for any board that works fine with Arduino and only cost less than 4€ on ebay.
It can operate as a device or an AP can gives wireless network connectivity to your application. It is interfaced with Arduino based on a serial line. The only problem of a such thing ( as for most of wifi chip ) is the power consumption. It requires about 150mA to run ; a lot for batteries.
My Friend @couac made a really good post on how to make it working with a Yabas, basically any Arduino board, I recommand the reading of his post : william post on ESP8266
The purpose of this idea is to locate a professional laptop inside a meeting room to automatically setup the video, audio connectivity to the equipment of the room. The solution would be fully wireless, based on wifi connectivity to room equipments. On the laptop a specific software allow to take control of the video, audio to start conferencing. This can also be coupled to a video conference to help connection. This could also be used for locating users by populating location information given by the IM systems. All of this could be based on wifi for location detection and device connectivity but the location precision is an important thing so other external system could be imagine even if they make it more complex to deploy.
As all the idea in this category, feel free to comment, and develop, if you become rich with it … don’t forget to help me paying my house !
PirateBox is an interesting concept, but it had a lot of limitations based on the fact that the distance covered by a wifi connection is really limited. The mobile devices, able to cover a larger distance also have limitation due to the time needed to transfer any content.
In fact, you can’t imagine to grab content from someone you cross on the street because you might be out of signal before finished to transfer your file. More over due to the actual memory size of the portable devices you can’t imagine to share a lot of stuff on it.
So the idea is great, and the future could change all what I just said. But, today, the reality is that this system is not really usable as a real anonymous and unlimited sharing system.
To improve the system, I would imagine a network of PirateBox, this idea requires to have a larger number of devices but it would allow to share a large amount of data even on restricted memory cards. The idea is that each PirateBox would have a second wifi adapter to connect to another PirateBox. To get the list of its files and share it across this point to point connection. As each of the Piratebox is connecting to a second one we could imagine to build, dynamically a large piratebox network.
The file requests and data transfers would goes from a point to another point without keeping trace of these transfer out of the point to point exchange.
I assume there are some interesting research around this idea as the system has to build a dynamic network, avoiding cycles and optimizing the communications to make the network larger as possible, using a non centralized system to manage all of this.