High-accuracy positioning system evaluation kit

16th November 2020
Alex Lynn

Alps Alpine has announced that it will commence supply of a High-Accuracy Positioning System Evaluation Kit employing a Bluetooth Low Energy chip in November 2020 in recognition of heightened positioning needs.

There is a growing demand for high-accuracy positioning systems in the Internet of Things (IoT), the automotive industry, and a wide range of other sectors, including production and logistics. In the automotive industry, alongside personal recognition, the ability to pinpoint the location of a device is essential for enabling Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) offerings, such as smartphone-based digital keys.

However, positioning has often come with issues relating to practicality and the burden on development resources – for example, requirements for physical scanning using barcodes or IC tags, or development of high-end systems employing GPS and WiFi.

In responding to these issues, Alps Alpine has taken steps to commercialise positioning modules using sub-GHz bands, including its Long-Lifetime Asset Tracker for logistics operations. The company is currently pursuing additional development of high-accuracy positioning technology employing a Bluetooth Low Energy chip, aiming for commercialisation and a start to mass production during 2021.

In advance of this, Alps Alpine has developed an evaluation kit for use with a high-accuracy positioning system. The kit will be available November 2020. Alps Alpine’s high-accuracy positioning technology employs an original position detection algorithm developed by American firm Greina Technologies, (RF Ranging). Alps Alpine acquired Greina Technologies in May 2018.

The system achieves high-accuracy positioning due to being able to measure the angle of arrival (AoA) and time of arrival (ToA) simultaneously. Positioning employs a Bluetooth Low Energy chip that has been adopted widely in the market, enabling easy data communication with existing systems that already use Bluetooth. The system therefore has excellent potential for implementation in society.

Furthermore, the chip inside the development kit is an NXP Semiconductors KW38 Wireless Microcontroller, which has been extensively deployed within automotive, consumer electronics and industrial equipment sectors and boasts excellent security performance. Positioning and Bluetooth Low Energy communication need only a single chip.

Under the Bluetooth 5.1 specification, the angle of arrival (AoA) option is already standard. Through participation in the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), Alps Alpine is currently pursuing standardisation of time of arrival and ranging technology with greater security.

By quickly establishing high-accuracy positioning technology and supplying the evaluation kit to the market, Alps Alpine is looking to heighten added value for finished products while contributing to a user experience that brings safety, peace of mind and outstanding usability to automotive and energy, healthcare and industry (EHI) markets.

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