Using Bluetooth RSSI for Visually Impaired Navigation

There’s new research from the University of Bristol on Outdoor Localization Using BLE RSSI and Accessible Pedestrian Signals for the Visually Impaired at Intersections.

The idea is to use Bluetooth received signal strength (RSSI) to enable the blind and visually impaired (BVI) to safely to cross intersections on foot. Audible systems already exist but users find them confusing when crossing complex road intersections. The researchers developed a system called CAS (Crossing Assistance System) that provides pedestrian positioning.

The system uses k-nearest neighbors (kNN) method Support Vector Machine (SVM) with various RSSI features for classification, including a moving average filter, that was able to localise people with 97.7% accuracy.

Beacons Used by Hotel Panic Buttons

Hotel Management has an article mentioning how hotel panic button solutions are being used by Curator Hotel & Resort Collection.

Employees wear a cellular wireless panic button that can be pressed when help is needed. Bluetooth beacons are placed around the hotel that allow the worker to be located.

There are other ways to implement such systems without needing expensive, extra, cellular wireless. For example, it’s possible to piggy back on phones employees are already carrying, use beacons with 2-way radio or have gateways around the hotel to detect location.

Bluetooth Smart Helmet in Mining

There’s new research by Yeanjae Kim, Jieun Baek and Yosoon Choi of the Department of Energy Resources Engineering, Pukyong National University, Korea on a Smart Helmet-Based Personnel Proximity Warning System for Improving Underground Mine Safety.

The system involves a smart helmet worn by walking workers that picks up Bluetooth beacons attached to heavy equipment, vehicles or placed in dangerous zones. The aim is to prevent collisions between equipment and pedestrians in mines.

The bidirectional proximity warnings provide visual proximity alerts that reduce worker mental effort and stress and help to free the hands of workers to maintain work efficiency.

The system uses an Arduino Uno board with Bluetooth BLE module within the helmet. Visual warnings are provided using LED straps.

The use of Bluetooth for proximity safety warnings isn’t new. We have come across similar concepts in power stations and factories where fixed smart lights and/or apps, rather than smart-helmets, are used to improve proximity safety, particularly near blind corners or hazardous areas. We also have clients re-purposing social distancing beacons to provide for simpler systems that warn workers of proximity to vehicles.

View beacons

Safety System Using iBeacon

The Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering of TJS Engineering College, Chennai, India has a new paper on Women Safety System using iBeacon Technology.

It describes a system that uses iBeacon to provide tracking of women when out alone. As it uses iBeacon, it is presumably for use where GPS doesn’t work. Also, while not mentioned, it might equally be used for all vulnerable people including lone workers, young, old and disabled.

Women safety system using iBeacon

The system consists of a wearable belt that tracks location and sends alerts via cellular connection. It uses heartbeat, sound and pressure sensors to detect abnormal situations.

Read more about iBeacons

View iBeacons

Fitness Band with Heart Rate and Body Temperature

We have a new beacon, the 1810G in stock that monitors both heart rate and body temperature.

Heart Rate and Temperature

This fitness band can provide real time steps, heart rate or temperature. It also stores the historical data. Data is obtained by connecting programmatically to the device, via Bluetooth GATT, from Android, iOS or other Bluetooth LE device.

Can be set up to provide for social distancing reminders, tested every minute, when two bands of this type come close together (2m).

Being programmable it allows for new usecases such as monitoring groups of people. This might be used, for example, to identify those with an elevated body temperature.

There’s also an iOS and Android app for normal consumer use.

View all sensor beacons

Using iBeacons with Intelligent Displaying and Alerting Systems

There’s recent research into using iBeacons with intelligent displaying and alerting systems (SICIAD) typically found in public buildings and offices. The paper An Intelligent Low-Power Displaying System with Integrated Emergency Alerting Capability by Marius Vochin, Alexandru Vulpe, Laurentiu Boicescu, Serban Georgica Obreja and George Suciu of the University of Bucharest shows how beacons can be used to determine indoor position of mobile terminals or signalling points of interest.

An Android app uses the beacons to detect location and sends it to the SICIAD system. The researchers concluded that:

“By using an appropriate number of beacons and optimal positions, a relatively precise indoor localization can be obtained with iBeacon technology”

Update on the Use of Beacons on Aircraft

Last year we wrote about how Beacons might be classed as Personal Electronic Devices (PED) and how companies such as Samsonite were already using tracker beacons in some of their luggage. Since then, there have been some new airline baggage rules that have put some ‘smart’ baggage firms out of business.

The new rules focus more on the batteries than the use of (Bluetooth) wireless. Lithium-ion batteries pose a fire risk, especially when left unattended in the hold. In the US, smart cases are banned from the hold unless the batteries can be removed. The IATA has a paper (pdf) on smart baggage with integrated batteries.

The focus is on baggage (and hence batteries) in the hold. Devices need to be able to be deactivated and/or taken into the cabin rather than stored in the hold.

The CAA says:

“Lithium batteries are very safe, but because of their high energy, if they are not treated with care or if they are abused or have a manufacturing fault, they can catch fire”

The main risk is that baggage gets damaged which then affects the enclosed batteries.