Posts Tagged ‘tracking’

A GPS without GPS

Monday, July 11th, 2011

gsmlocalizerWow, that sounds weird. It’s actually a mini GSM-based localizer without any GPS devices attached. It’s an old device with the cheaper SimCom module SIM900.  Here is a complete working GSM localizator which is pretty cheap and small too.

As introduction, this system allows localization without directly using GPS technology; we are able to locate the desired object fairly precisely by using database availability together with the geographic position of the cells themselves. In some country the cell coordinates are not publicly known (i.e. in Italy). If so, where do we find such data? Through Google Maps… Google has been able to store billions of data regarding the location of its clients’ cell phones. But how does GSM localization work? The radio mobile network is made up of a number of adjacent radio cells, each of which is characterized by an identifier consisting of four data: a progressive number (Cell ID), a code related to the area in which that given cell is (LAC, or Local Area Code), the code of national network to which the cell belongs (MCC, an acronym for  Mobile Country Code), and finally the company code (MNC, or Mobile Network Code), which obviously identifies the phone company itself. For this reason, once a cell name and coordinates are known, and considering the maximum distance allowed between this cell and a phone  before the phone connects to a new cell, it is possible to find out, approximately, the most distant position of the phone itself. For example, if the maximum distance has been determined to be one mile, the cell phone can be within a one-mile radius. It can be deduced that the more cells are found in a given area, the more precisely one can determine where the phone is located (up to 200-350 feet). The idea of employing only a GSM device to build a remote localization system occurred to us when we realized that Google Maps Mobile, which had been conceived to allow smartphones equipped with a GPS receiver to use Google for satellite navigation, was extended to all cell phones, as long as they were able to support GPRS or UMTS data.  Naturally, this method allows but for a rough estimate: determining the precise position of the cell phone hinges on data regarding the coverage of a given cell which can only be provided by the Google server.

DataCell

The circuit

Compared to traditional localizers based on GPS, this device presents many advantages, primarily because it is lighter and less bulky, has a cost lesser and greater autonomy to exercise. This means that about one battery lithium ion, such as 1 Ah, our tracker can be in operation for several days (it all depends on the number of SMS that have to do). A locator based on cellular network may answare more immediately: the GPS receiver may take several minutes to determine its position. Our tracker works battery and thus can be brought on by people who may have the need to ask help or be tracked, but also placed on board motor vehicles (without installation) or simply introduced in goods in transit. To avoid unnecessarily draining the battery, the localizator provides its position via SMS, on requesto with a simple phone call. Among the functions implemented there is the SOS: By pressing the button the localizator sends a text message asking for help, containing the coordinates of position, the sending can be done to a maximum of eight thelephone numbers. When queried or with the autoreport function, sends an SMS with the localization.To know the location of remote device must send an SMS request cell is connected and sends a request (via GPRS) to Google’s site, the latter responds with the coordinates and the figure for the precision. Everything happens in seconds.

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Well, you can get hell of these stuff from link provided afterward. Design files and the firmware are included. A fun stuff to experiment with at your disposal. Mini GSM localizer without GPS at open-electronics.org.

All images are courtesy of open-electronics.org

Car eye-tracking system wakes you before you crash

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Car-dashboard-eyetracker

Falling asleep while at the helm of a few tons of metal and plastic going 60 miles-per-hour doesn’t end well, but there’s little the modern car can do about it. If it, say, stopped itself suddenly it could become a hazard to other drivers. The Eyetracker system knows it’s not on the car, though — it’s on you to drive safe.

With that in mind, the German-based Eyetracker watches the driver’s face for telltale signs of sleepiness, and issues a warning if it looks like you’re about to doze off. The system uses two cameras to keep tabs on the spatial positioning of the pupil and the line of vision — which would waver if you’re about to pass out. In other words, it makes sure your eyes are on the road.

What’s really exciting here is how small and easy to install the system is, which could see it put to use in ways other than keeping drivers awake (a noble cause, to be sure). Despite the picture above, the Eyetracker doesn’t need a laptop to function, and its control unit is the size of a matchbox. What’s more, it can be installed in any car as it handles all of its own processing itself.

Beyond just the automobile world, the Eyetacker could aid in medical operations where being able to keep on eye on — well — an eye is essential, or even in video games, serving as a head-tracker that lets the player look around without the aid of a physical controller.

Source: Fraunhofer

Blue Force Tracking

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Tank_traning.jpg

 Blue Force Tracking is a United States military term used to denote a GPS-enabled system that provides military commanders and forces with location information about friendly (and despite its name, also about hostile) military forces.

In military symbology, the color blue is typically used to designate friendly forces while red is used for enemies, and green or yellow are used for neutral forces.

Blue Force Tracking systems consist of a computer, used to display location information, a satellite terminal and satellite antenna, used to transmit location and other military data, a Global Positioning System receiver (to determine its own position), command-and-control software (to send and receive orders, and many other battlefield support functions), and mapping software, usually in the form of a GIS, that plots the BFT device on a map. The system displays the location of the host vehicle on the computer’s terrain-map display, along with the locations of other platforms (friendly in blue, and enemy in red) in their respective locations. BFT can also be used to send and receive text and imagery messages, and Blue Force Tracking has a mechanism for reporting the locations of enemy forces and other battlefield conditions (for example, the location of mine fields, battlefield obstacles, bridges that are damaged, etc.). Users will include the United States Army, the United States Marines Corps, the United States Air Force and the United Kingdom. Recently, the United States Army, the United States Marines Corps have reached agreement to standardize on a shared system, to be called “Joint Battle Command Platform”, which will be derived from the Army’sFBCB2system that was used by the United States Army, the United States Marines Corps, and the Army of the United Kingdom during heavy combat operations in Iraq in 2003. (more…)

RFID Chips in School Uniforms Track Students

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

rfid antennaHow would you feel about this: Tracking chips in kids’ school clothing so that school officials can know their whereabouts during the school day?

Oh, it’s happening. Ten students in a secondary school in the United Kingdom are being tracked through RFID implants in their school uniforms in a pilot program. Information Week reports that the kids attend Hungerhill School for ages 11-16 in Edenthorpe, England.

Add the RFID chips to increased video surveillance and fingerprinting of kids, and this is a heavily tracked generation—for safety’s sake.

That extra peace of mind for adults comes with a heavy loss of privacy for kids. Do you agree with David Clouter, a parent and founder of the children’s advocacy group Leave Them Kids Alone, who says taking all these precautions has the effect of treating kids like criminals? Or do you agree with the parents who have OKed the pilot program who do not find it egregiously intrusive?

One possible side effect: Uniform sales may pick up as kids try to procure extra non-RFID-tagged clothing. As security expert Bruce Schneier writes on his blog: “So now it’s easy to cut class; just ask someone to carry your shirt around the building while you’re elsewhere.”

Source: UK Kids got RFIDs

Lost and Found: Technology to Help Us Track Everything

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

In shoes? On lions and elephants? In golf balls? We ain’t seen nothin’ yet. GPS and other tracking technology is about to start finding its way (pun intended) into all sorts of things. Ultimately this is going to beg a lot of questions about who’s tracking whom, and what privacy means when you can locate anything at anytime, but for the moment, marvel at these interesting GPS spottings.

A former UN scientific analyst turned shoe designer, Isaac Daniel was inspired to launch this line of GPS-enabled footwear after his seven-year-old son went missing from school. His son was fine, but Daniel created Compass Global, a collection of sneakers with GPS devices built into the soles to help families track their kids, aging family members, or others prone to getting disoriented and wandering.
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