Sensor enables accurate floor level altitude detection

6th November 2015
Posted By : Jordan Mulcare
Sensor enables accurate floor level altitude detection

Bosch Sensortec´s barometric pressure sensors enable a host of recent mobile applications, from indoor navigation with floor level tracking – e.g. for asset and personnel tracking, emergency applications such as E911 and Blue force tracking and precise guidance in shopping malls and enterprises – to weather forecast and calorie consumption calculation in sports devices. The barometric pressure sensor has become an inherent part of high-end smart phones and new services are emerging to take advantage of this data.

NextNav has demonstrated the ability to deliver precise ‘floor-level’ altitude by using a high quality pressure sensor like the BMP 280 in conjunction with a wide-area Metropolitan Beacon System ('MBS') network. An MBS network is not building-specific but rather provides service across an entire metropolitan area, and is architected to remain accurate even in the case of shifting weather patterns or local microclimate effects. NextNav has developed additional technologies to facilitate the conversion of an accurate altitude to a projected floor number, among other capabilities and is collaborating closely with Bosch on the further development and commercialization of these new capabilities.

"While indoor horizontal positioning data of varying quality has been available for some time, the z-axis has proven elusive. High-quality pressure sensors, like the Bosch Sensortec BMP280, unlock the door to highly accurate and scalable absolute altitude determination. MBS technology opens that door," said Ganesh Pattabiraman, Founder and President, NextNav. "We are delighted to be working closely with Bosch to bring this critical capability to market.”

Accurate altitude and floor detection is available through the use of highly-scalable devices that offer flexible packaging while maintaining high performance. Bosch Sensortec´s current state of the art pressure sensors, for example, has a footprint of 2.5x2.0mm2 and a height of 0.95mm in an 8-pin metal-lid LGA package, but draws only 2.7 µA. It maintains a very high relative accuracy of ±0.08 hPa, equivalent to only ±70 cm difference in altitude with resolution of 1.5Pa. These characteristics explain the rapid proliferation of high-quality barometric pressure sensors in mobile devices.

“The key reasons underlying our collaboration with NextNav are the scalability and precision of their approach. This matches very effectively with the outstanding level of precision that our pressure sensors provide. With Bosch Sensortec as the market leader in barometric pressure sensors and delivering several hundred million of its pressure sensors into high-end smartphones already today NextNav’s solution is well-prepared for immediate mass-market adoption. NextNav’s focus on wide-area, managed systems provides a new highly valuable level of utility - that is indoor location and navigation - to products equipped with our sensors”, said Stefan Finkbeiner, CEO, Bosch Sensortec.

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