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Redpoint Positioning Launches High-Precision RTLS

The company says its system, currently being piloted at construction sites and retail stores to track workers' whereabouts, does not require a Wi-Fi network, making deployments easy, fast and less expensive.
By Claire Swedberg

The newly released network anchor also comes with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) radio, enabling it to detect the locations of beaconing devices, such as BLE asset tags, smartphones or tablets. The Redpoint badge—which can calculate the real-time location within the badge itself, based on the signals received from anchors—also has a built-in BLE transceiver so that it can communicate current location data to any BLE-enabled devices, such as a smartphone or tablet. The system also comes with what the company calls a "dual API," offering an application programming interface at both the tag end (for connecting tags to smart devices via BLE) and the server end (for traditional RTLS applications).

Korhonen says most RTLS solutions on the market can often be inconvenient to deploy, such as at construction or oil and gas sites, as well as retail sites. For instance, many of these locations lack Wi-Fi infrastructure, or the Wi-Fi they are using might not provide the less-than-half-meter location granularity required. On construction job sites, Korhonen notes, high-precision RTLS technology is necessary for defining reliable hazard zones for employee alerting. "Even a 1-meter mistake in detecting hazard zone boundaries can be dangerous," he states. In retail stores, location precision is needed for data-analytics applications to provide item-level accuracy rather than just aisle-level accuracy. "For these use cases, RTLS solutions before Redpoint have either been too complex and cost-prohibitive, or not accurate enough to support these safety and analytics applications."

Antti Korhonen, Redpoint's CEO
Redpoint offers an alternative to Wi-Fi-based RTLS technologies. The company's battery-powered or power-over-Ethernet (POE) network anchors can be installed around an area, with their location stored in the cloud-based software to help link a moving tag to a location based on the anchor transmission. Those network anchors can receive and forward transmissions from Redpoint UWB tags worn by employees in the form of badges, or attached to specific assets, tools or equipment. In that way, a mesh network can quickly be established to identify the locations of the tagged individuals or items. Some network anchors can act as a bridge or gateway, sending that positioning data to the cloud-based server via an Ethernet connection. Asset tags are the size of a matchbox, while the badges are similar in size to traditional ID badges.

The Wearable Safety Alert System features a safety vest with a built-in LED light and Redpoint RTLS tag. The vest's embedded tag acts as a switch between the battery and the LEDs to turn the lights on and off, based on an individual's position and the virtual zone information the system receives from anchors. According to Korhonen, any off-the-shelf safety vest with the LED light will operate with this solution, once the tag is installed by Redpoint or a reseller or systems integrator. Typically, the light is intended to remain illuminated in order to warn others in the vicinity of a worker's presence. However, Redpoint's solution goes a step further, triggering the light's illumination only if the system determines that a worker has entered a danger zone. In that way, it can warn him or her to leave the area.

General contractors and other businesses can use Redpoint's cloud-based software linked to building information management (BIM) construction-management software to set up zones in which specific individuals should not go. For instance, workers with no reason to be in a particular area can be warned to stay out.

Redpoint, or the user, can deploy the anchors around an area, linking each anchor's ID number with a specific location. As a worker walks through an area, his or her badge tag receives signals from surrounding anchors and uses this data to calculate its real-time position. It then forwards that location information back to the server via the anchors. Redpoint software determines if the employee is authorized to be in that specific area, and if he is not, the badge tag triggers the LED light on the vest to begin flashing, thereby warning the individual and those around him that he has entered a restricted area.

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