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HKUST researchers develop first innovative fusion-based location sensing technology

HKUST researchers develop first innovative fusion-based location sensing technology

Recently, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) announced that its research team has invented a new fusion-based technology which would support smart city initiatives.

Developed by a team led by Prof Gary Chan of the Department of the Computer Science and Engineering and Director of Entrepreneurship Center at HKUST, the location sensing technology – a software suite which fuses Wi-Fi with other signals on mobile platforms – is the first of its kind deployed in Hong Kong.

According to the press statement, the new fusion-based location sensing technology has achieved remarkably-improved accuracy to position people indoor, enabling novel smart location-based applications such as indoor navigation, location-based personalised recommendation, crowd analysis and people flow control.

It could reduce the position error to less than 2.5 meters in general environment, 3 times more accurate than traditional approaches. To locate a person, the technology combines signals from multiple sources such as Wi-Fi, geomagnetic field, Bluetooth, video and accelerometer reading.

The fusion technology is based on fingerprinting. Survey is first conducted to collect the signals at different locations of a given site. Using machine learning, the signal’s characteristics at these locations are analyzed and modeled. Upon detecting signals from a user, the location of the user can then be estimated accurately and efficiently.

In collaborations with New World Development’s Research and Development, PCCW Solutions, and Link, the technology has been deployed in Harbour City at Tsim Sha Tsui, and is now under commercial trials in malls and hospitals.

“Our technology is to fuse the signals to combine their strengths while overcoming their limitations. The higher location accuracy makes possible novel location-based services and facilitates Hong Kong’s development as a smart city,” said Prof Chan. Prof Chan is also a Director of Entrepreneurship Center at HKUST.

The technology can also create synergy with the Hong Kong SAR Government’s smart lamp posts pilot scheme announced earlier as an initiative of the Smart City Blueprint.

The scheme plans to install multifunctional smart lamp posts starting in 2019 to facilitate collection of real-time city data in enhancing city management and other public services. Incorporated with the technology, the lamp posts will not only provide timely location-based services to tourists and general public but will also create immense social value on helping to find missing people, pets and preventing them from getting lost.

Funded by the Innovation and Technology Commission’s Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF) and managed by Hong Kong Research & Development Centre for Logistics and Supply Chain Management Enabling Technologies (LSCM R&D Center), the technology developed by Prof Chan and his team is now being commercialized through two start-ups run by HKUST graduates.

Patents of this fusion-based location sensing technology have been filed in the US and China.

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