TRX Awarded Two New Patents

Posted on Fri, May 20, 2016

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TRX is entirely focused on delivering accurate indoor location through sensor fusion, ranging, and mapping technologies. The approaches TRX has implemented are unique, and allow for ubiquitous location when you are operating in buildings that are difficult or impossible to instrument, and where significant time spent "mapping" a building may not be possible. Maintaining strong IP protection for our technology is important for our distribution partners and for application partners who integrate TRX location services as part of their overall solutions set.

TRX has recently been issued two new patents from the United States :

  1. 9,322,648: covering the use of sensor and map information for improved elevation accuracy in and around structures.
  2. 9,297,658: covering improved location and heading accuracy using Wi-Fi signatures

TRX was also issued a patent in Hong Kong and in Australia on our methods for 3D tracking and mapping which form the basis for our Feature SLAM work. TRX now has a total of 12 US and 12 international patents, covering GPS-denied and indoor mapping and location determination.

TRX's patents cover methods for 3D tracking and mapping, including sensor fusion for motion classification and drift estimation, mapping (signature mapping - both signal strength and magnetic - and structural inference based on a tracked user’s movement) and map-based corrections. Later TRX patents build on these foundational patents, adding improvements, including tracking of moving cellular devices, heading corrections using building constraints and occasional good magnetic sensor data, sensor fusion for robust elevation determination indoors and outdoors, and automatic sensor calibration. These later patents also enhance TRX's map inference methods, adding unique feature descriptors (including unique structure and signal information) that enable our methods for automated map fusion. 

The methods covered by TRX's patent portfolio provide benefit to improved location and mapping in the following areas:

  • Crowdsourced mapping creating a robust location assistance database - TRX's unique mapping methods merge and fuse data coming from many standard mobile devices to provide an efficient mechanism for creating and updating indoor structural building models, signal and routing maps at a large scale through crowdsourcing. These indoor maps can be used to deliver more accurate location and heading (direction of travel) and to enable indoor routing.
  • Robust elevation calculation using sensor fusion and mapping - TRX elevation engine delivers floor level elevation determination indoors using a combination of sensor fusion and mapping methods. TRX's sensor fusion methods remove pressure anomalies due to weather and HVAC systems and adjust device offsets to provide reliable indoor floor level elevation.
  • Heading determination using sensor fusion and structural map inference - Heading errors (direction of travel) are the largest source of location errors in inertial tracking systems. Maintaining an accurate heading is one of the key challenges in infrastructure free inertial navigation and is critical for tracking cellular devices, which may be moving relative to the tracked person. TRX’s patents cover multiple unique methods of estimating and correcting the tracked person's heading. The techniques include sensor fusion and structural map inference, magnetic and RF mapping.

Tags: TRX Systems, USPTO

TRX Develops Proximity System to Increase Firefighter Safety

Posted on Thu, Apr 21, 2016

Fire Departments in rural/small suburban areas identified a gap for the development of a hardware and software system that helps firefighting Incident Commanders and Team Leaders to maintain team integrity within the fire ground. Supported by the Department of Homeland Security First Responder group, we developed an affordable high accuracy time of flight ranging solution in an effort to fill this operational gap. The aim of the system is to provide team leads and search parties with very accurate ranging information to their team. The access to the ranging information will help to reduce the time to find a firefighter in distress in low visibility conditions. This low cost tool can help rural or small fire departments keep track of their firefighters inside burning buildings. The images below show the prototype Android App and the small proximity device developed by the TRX team.

Screen_Shot_2016-04-19_at_10.37.08_AM.pngThe ranging solution is based on the latest ultra-wideband time of flight ranging sensors. Ultra-wideband sensors use a frequency bandwidth of 500Mz or more. The wide bandwidth significantly reduces multipath errors - that is, errors in the ranging measurements caused by signals bouncing off walls and other objects in the cluttered indoor environments. The solution provides sub-meter ranging accuracy over distances up to approximately 50 meters. The operational range of the solution is currently limited by FCC requirements on the power of signal emission for ultra-wideband signal sources. The 50 meter range is more than adequate for maintaining the integrity of teams operating together.

Another benefit of the ultra-wideband system is that the sub-meter level ranging accuracy is able to be maintained even when passing through standard office walls. While the sensors are a huge improvement over signal strength based ranging in terms of their accuracy, they do not defeat the laws of physics so the ranging measurements will still be blocked by some building materials such as metals.

In addition to the ranging, the TRX Systems proximity device includes other sensors that enable us to provide relative elevation information; allowing a search team to know that a firefighter is 25 feet away and 10 feet below. This information would allow a RIT team, for example, to measure range and relative elevation from outside of a building.

In February the system was tested with Herman VFC Fire Chief Rob McLafferty (one of the subject matter experts advising DHS and TRX Systems on this development program) and several firefighters from the Herman VFC . The test was designed to give the firefighters a feel for how the system would work in the best conditions (line of sight) and also how the system would work during team operations and searches in areas of different construction.

The Proximity Sensor will ultimately be integrated with self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). During this program we worked with MSA to develop an ICD sharing the proximity information for display on their SCBA interface. MSA will be demonstrating the ranging capability integrated directly into their G1 SCBA at FDIC (Booth 2111). We will be delivering 100 proximity units to the Department of Homeland Security for further testing with rural and small suburban departments. For more information on the Firefighter Accountability and Proximity System, read the article by the Department of Homeland Security. 

Tags: firefighter tracking, TRX Systems, Department of Homeland Security

TRX Systems Co-Chairs at the IEEE/ION PLANS

Posted on Tue, Apr 19, 2016

Last week I co-chaired a session on Collaborative and Networked Navigation at the IEEE/ION Position Location and Navigation Symposium (ION PLANS) in Savannah, Georgia. Both Professor Zak Kassas from University of California, Riverside and myself were the session chairs at the technical conference that occurs only in the spring of even number years.

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The IEEE/ION PLANS was a refreshing opportunity to learn about the latest work from scientists, researchers and engineers from around the world in the field of navigation. The 30-minute slots allow for detailed presentations on new methods and results ranging from fundamental research, to applications, to field test results. The IEEE/ION PLANS featured numerous sessions and programs so there was always something of interest on the schedule. Some interesting practical applications that I visited are listed below:

  • Enhancing APNT Coverage using LDACS Air-to-Air Ranging, German Aerospace Center (DLR), using air-to-air ranging to enhance air to ground ranging network performance for commercial aircraft positioning as a backup for GPS.
  • Carrier Phase Positioning (RTK), University of Texas, Austin, the latest results for obtaining cm level positioning with commercial cell phones and reducing the cost of deploying the required reference networks.
  • Personal Navigation, FOI Sweden, using vision with active illumination for positioning and mapping in unknown and dangerous environments for soldiers and first responders.

More information on all of the IEEE/ION PLANS programs and session can be found at http://www.ion.org/plans/program.cfm

TRX Partners with Anritsu

Posted on Wed, Apr 13, 2016

TRX Systems is now partnered with the Anritsu Company to deliver integrated solutions that feature TRX’s NEON® Signal Mapper application with Anritsu’s industry leading handheld analyzers. Utilizing NEON’s capability to automatically collect geo-referenced test data with Anritsu’s handheld spectrum analyzer products saves valuable time and money by:

  • Eliminating the need to manually perform "check-ins" at each test point
  • Providing vastly more data than is possible with manual processes
  • Removing typical data recording errors caused by "guesstimating" locations
  • Delivering actionable data in areas not easily analyzed
  • Enabling quick analysis of signal coverage and faster problem resolution
  • Providing color-graded measurement results in 2D and 3D views

Where GPS is unavailable, the Anritsu MA8100A Series TRX NEON® Signal Mapper solutions deliver real-time 3D location information for indoor test and measurement applications. The Anritsu MA8100A Series simplifies and dramatically reduces the time required for indoor signal testing, making it an ideal solution for professionals who conduct in-building testing of public safety and commercial networks, including public safety organizations, network operators, and DAS installers.

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TRX Systems’ NEON® Signal Mapper application is interoperable with the Anritsu Spectrum Master™, LMR Master™, Site Master™, BTS Master™, Cell Master™, and VNA Master™ handheld analyzers.

 For more information, please visit www.trxsystems.com or read the Press Release.

TRX Systems’ NEON Signal Mapper Application Showcased by Anritsu at IWCE 2016

Posted on Wed, Mar 23, 2016

Anritsu Company, a global provider of innovative communications test and measurement solutions for 120 years, will be demonstrating a 3D in-building coverage mapping solution at the International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) this week. The solution leverages the TRX Systems’ NEON® Signal Mapper application to deliver real-time 3D location information that is interoperable with the Anritsu Spectrum Master™, LMR Master™, Site Master™, BTS Master™, Cell Master™, and VNA Master™ handheld analyzers.

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The integrated Anritsu-TRX solution, which provides 3D maps and seamless indoor location and tracking data, reduces the time to verify public safety in-building wireless system operation and provides real-time 3D visualization of the test results as well as cloud storage for post testing review. A short video of the solution showing the integrated signal mapping solution can be found below:

 

The Anritsu-TRX solution will be demonstrated for the first time on March 23rd and 24th in the Anritsu IWCE booth (#1633) at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

For more information, go to www.trxsystems.com or read the Anritsu Press Release.

Tags: NEON Signal Mapper, Anritsu, IWCE

NEON® Personnel Tracker Now Available with Motorola LEX L10 Mission Critical LTE Handhelds

Posted on Tue, Mar 22, 2016

Today, we are very excited to announce the availability of the NEON® Personnel Tracker application that is now fully interoperable with the Motorola Solutions LEX L10 Mission Critical LTE Handheld. The TRX-Motorola solution extends location and mapping indoors to deliver seamless tracking of personnel in critical public safety, security and industrial applications. The NEON-LEX L10 integrated solution to be showcased at the International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE), March 23rd and 24th, at the Las Vegas Convention Center (Motorola Solutions booth #1029).

B0oZqItIIAATlqp.jpgMotorola’s LEX L10 is a customizable and intelligent communication device purpose-built to enable first responders to work faster, safer and smarter. The LEX L10 addresses unique public safety requirements including a display that prioritizes information based on user status and activity, a covert operation mode, a design that supports one-handed operation, dual 1 Watt front-facing speakers, tri-microphone noise and echo cancellation, and a dedicated PTT button for fast voice collaboration.

NEON Personnel Tracker delivers indoor and outdoor location improving command effectiveness and safety for public safety and security personnel. The application uses the NEON Indoor Location Software to provide location in both 2D and 3D, as well as tracking and visualization of personnel in indoor and outdoor environments such as basements, complex buildings and urban canyons. Accurate tracking is accomplished using NEON's patented algorithms, which combine data from all available device sensors including inertial, magnetic, pressure, light, Bluetooth, WiFi and any available GPS signals to calculate location.

Now interoperable with the LEX L10, NEON Personnel Tracker is an optimized solution designed to meet the needs of public safety personnel who typically operate in buildings not under their own control and industrial personnel who operate in buildings that are difficult to instrument and network. Benefits include:

  • Seamless tracking and the highest level of situational awareness
  • Easy to use, rapid to deploy solution supporting a broad set of use cases
  • Both real-time and after-action 3D visualization of individuals and teams
  • Ubiquitous connectivity via 3G/4G LTE, Public Safety LTE and Wi-Fi

Motorola is the leader in public safety communications and we are delighted to work with them to deliver indoor location and personnel tracking with the LEX L10 handheld.

A short video showing the integrated solution can be viewed below:

 For more information on NEON Personnel Tracker, go to www.trxsystems.com.

Tags: TRX Systems, NEON Personnel Tracker, IWCE, Motorola

TRX Participates in AEWE Annual, Live, Force-on-Force Testing

Posted on Tue, Mar 15, 2016

TRX tested our GPS-denied location service at the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiments (AEWE) in January and February. The AEWE is the US Army TRADOC’s annual, live, force-on-force experiment where it puts technologies into the hands of Soldiers for early feedback from the end-user in operational scenarios.

The event brings together key organizations in the Army that allow companies to test integration into military systems. TRX was introduced to the Nett Warrior Future Initiatives team and, working with them, we developed and tested a plug-in to Nett Warrior. TRX was one of several new Nett Warrior applications. New Nett Warrior applications provided capabilities for GPS denied tracking, sending continuous near-real-time intel to the edge, language translation, sending biometric data over the network, and rapid injury reporting.

TRX's Nett Warrior integration is shown in the figure:

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The US Infantry Soldiers in the ExFor, many of whom have done several tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, join the AEWE to test technology and mission constructs that will inform future Army concepts, organizations and requirements. TRX had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in training and testing with US and British Infantry soldiers before letting them take the technology out for several weeks of operational testing. The test and training process was a great opportunity to for us to get direct input on the TRX NEON system from soldiers. It allowed us to validate the design and also to get input on how they might use the system in operations.

The soldiers’ feedback on the NEON Tracking Unit was very positive. They liked the small size, light weight and flexibility on MOLLE vest attachment location. The integration with Nett Warrior made use seamless for the soldiers - it was turned on for GPS denied operations enabling tracking to continue even in locations where GPS was not available.

To learn more about our NEON location solutions here.

TRX Systems Online Store Open for Business

Posted on Tue, Mar 08, 2016

The TRX team is happy to announce today that NEON indoor location solutions are now available for purchase at the new TRX online store. The online store features our the Personnel Tracker and Signal Mapper applications based upon on our patented NEON Location Service. The TRX store makes it even easier to buy NEON solutions and it represents the next step towards our goal in becoming the world’s premier indoor location solution provider.

TRX Featured Store Products include:

  • NEON Personnel Tracker enables users to be located and tracked both indoors and outdoors using a combination of technologies including sensor fusion, WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS. The app is optimized for locating and tracking personnel in areas without GPS including inside buildings, outdoors in urban canyons and underground. Personnel Tracker detects and maps building features providing seamless location of users in areas where they would otherwise be untrackable.
  • NEON Signal Mapper delivers real-time 3D location for indoor test and measurement. The app provides an intuitive Android user interface enabling lightly trained users to map signal and sensor information within buildings.  NEON Signal Mapper is easily integrated with 3rd party test equipment and enables users to initialize their location, start/stop mapping and load mapped data to the NEON cloud for storage and 3D visualization on the Command software.

For more information, visit us at the TRX website.

Location Without GPS - Celestial Navigation is Back

Posted on Mon, Feb 29, 2016

Did you know that celestial navigation is back?

Until NPR covered it last week, I didn’t actually know it was gone. For those of you that would proudly classify yourselves as “landlubbers”, you might only think about celestial navigation when you watch a historical movie with mariners of the olden days and so may not have realized that it was a mandatory navigation skill for sailors. As a Coast Guard Academy Cadet and then a Deck Watch Officer in the 80s, celestial navigation was ever present for me as I struggled to learn it at the Academy and then used it regularly while standing watch on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Diligence.

I find the idea of the “return” of celestial navigation fascinating for a number of reasons and none of them are nostalgic. On the Cutter Diligence, we used celestial nav to verify that our electronic systems like Loran and the newer GPS network were guiding us correctly. And, most importantly, if we were to lose our electronic nav sources, we would be prepared to use celestial nav in an emergency situation.

450x299_q95.jpgAccording to the NPR article, the Navy began phasing out the teaching of celestial nav at the U.S. Naval Academy about 15 years ago to allow for more focus on the new extremely capable electronic navigation systems, primarily based on GPS. During that same period, we’ve all become very dependent on GPS – we use it for navigating to the store, on vacation or to get around Washington, DC traffic – GPS has changed how we live our daily lives.

But what if it didn’t work? For military users, loss of GPS could be life threatening and, so bringing back celestial nav is part of the military preparing for situations where GPS could get disabled or jammed by our enemies. On the battlefield, technology like that provided by TRX Systems for indoor and underground environments (where GPS has never worked) and for outdoor environments where GPS is jammed, will provide another part of the solution for the military in “GPS-denied” environments.  

And that GPS-denied (or "indoor location") technology is now moving into the commercial industrial and consumer applications that will impact how we live our daily lives. The sensors that the TRX NEON® software uses to accurately locate people inside buildings, underground and in areas where GPS might be intentionally jammed - magnetic, accelerometer, gyroscope, light, pressure, RF, etc. - are already in the latest cellular devices and are now being embedded within radios and industrial devices.

To learn more about TRX technology or NEON Personnel Tracker visit us at www.trxsystems.com.

Tags: GPS-denied navigation, indoor location system, geolocation, sensor fusion

NEON Personnel Tracker Application Released and Generally Available!

Posted on Fri, Jan 29, 2016

The TRX Team is very happy to announce that our new NEON Personnel Tracker application was released this week as part of NEON 7.1 and is generally available for purchase!

The new NEON 7.1 release, builds on last year’s release of the new cloud based NEON Indoor Location Service with a new application called NEON Personnel Tracker, an enterprise-class, 3D location and mapping solution for industrial, public safety, security and military applications.

In addition to the new Personnel Tracker app, NEON 7.1 adds a number of valuable enhancements including:

  • Improved FeatureSLAM structural feature detection
  • Optimized navigation engine runs 20% fasterNeon-rgb-lb.png
  • Added flexibility in accessory mounting locations
  • Automated mapping of BLE beacons and NFC tags
  • Heat map or colored dot options for Signal Mapper 
  • …and many other features

The NEON Personnel Tracker Dev Kit can be purchased here.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.