Nordic Chipsets can support Indoor Location Tracking feature?

Hi Nordic Team, Can you please share any information regarding Indoor Location Tracking feature/application that nRF52840 can support? does this have AoA/AoD? and can this provide any kind of physical layer time-stamping for ToF/TDoA algorithms? What's the best location accuracy that can be achieved using this silicon? If i want to develop nRF52840 based Indoor Location Tracking application what kind of support i can get from you? What's the preferred module platform? does Nordic supports API for location developers? what's the best LOS & NLOS range one can get using this SoC? Kindly share this information

THanks & Best Regards, Hemamali

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  • The only I know is that already with nRF52832 with standard 1Mbps air speed and +4dBm Tx power (+ good HW design) you can make 1km+ range on free air. With nRF52840 with higher Tx Power and potentially long-range air-speeds it can be much more. Still not really practical for any precise location tracking as far as I know... I don't understand what do you mean by NLOS (and how you would like to quantify it?) also don't understand why BT5.0 is so interesting for Indoor Location Tracking (smells like buzzword a little bit...). When it comes to SW solutions on Nordic chips I don't have any conclusions to share, I just know that it's possible to do basic system with <5m accuracy already with nRF51 and commercial RTLS systems based on Nordic or TI BLE chips are claiming down to 1m accuracy with optimized installations...

  • NLOS means Non line of sight conditions, the reason why BT5.0 could be interesting is: range is improved dramatically, power consumption is better and they are going to add AoA/AoD features which will really help to improve the accuracy with minimal Hw deployment. but we need to see how this will span out in real complex indoor environments, BT being a very Narrow band system.

    commercial RTLS systems based on Nordic or TI BLE chips are claiming down to 1m accuracy with optimized installations can you please share more details regarding these commercial systems? what are those companies able to achieve <1m accuracy in real world?

  • To BT5.0 and sudden improved NOLS: my believe is that inside complex topologies like office space the impact of long-range modulated air-speeds will be fairly minimal, but maybe I'm wrong. Also claim about AoA/AoD being achievable with "minimal HW deployment" I'm very skeptical because basically none of cheap low power BLE chipset have this today and just to get modulated air-speed it takes Nordic (one of the market leaders) up to 12 months to deliver production chip since specification announcement (note that nRF52840 is just in engineering samples' stage and it will hopefully available for mass market in the end of this year!). Anyway I'm big fan of these radio applications so I hope I will be wrong and all big hopes will come true.

  • To the examples: by 5 minutes of googling I found e.g. this blog where basically all the players are being interviewed: BluVision (now part of HID Global/ASSA ABLOY), Aruba Networks, Mist, and others.

  • You may want to consider the mathematics of the Time Of Flight calculations.

    The speed of light is approx 300,000,000 meters per second in a vacuum and only slightly slower in air.

    So for 1m resolution, you need a system clock of at least 300MHz and in real world scenarios, you would need at least 2 or 3 time higher clock rates, and probably more like 5+ time clock rate to get 1m resolution.

    Plus you would need to have to synchronise the clock in both the TX and RX side, and hold those clocks stable to a reasonable accuracy over long enough periods of time ( unless you intend to constantly resync)

    Don't get me wrong. This is technically possible with the correct hardware..

    But general purpose Bluetooth MCUs are not the right hardware.

    IMHO. To add the functionality you are looking for, to general purpose MCUs would hugely increase the cost and make them not commercially viable.