by Carol Politi
The Angel Capital Association (ACA) announced at its 2013 ACA Summit that TRX was awarded the ACA Luis Villalobos Award for Innovation. We appreciate and are humbled by the recognition of the innovation of our sensor fusion and mapping technology for indoor location. The ACA also recognized the value TRX indoor location brings to both public sector and consumer applications.
“Innovation is the touchstone of angel group investing,” said Marianne Hudson, executive director of ACA. “This year’s winner of the Luis Villalobos Award, TRX Systems, exemplifies the highest order of innovation with an indoor location technology that solves enormously challenging real world problems to make people’s lives safer and more productive.”
The crux of what TRX does is to deliver X, Y, & Z (3-dimensional) data to applications that need accurate location awareness, even when people are indoors and underground. The solution improves as people move about a building, creating more complete feature and signature maps. This dynamic sensor fusion and mapping allows robust 3D location on a broad array of platforms and for a broad array of applications - even those for which pre-mapping of infrastructure is not possible.
Thanks to those at the ACA for recognizing TRX Systems!
by Dr. Kamiar Kordari
TRX Systems participated in the SXSW 2013 conference this week to showcase one of the applications of its indoor location technology. The interactive events in South by Southwest (SXSW) are primarily focused on new and emerging technology and the conference has earned the reputation as a place for new ideas and creative technologies.
Dr. Kamiar Kordari presented at a session titled "Making Accessible Transportation Modern & Cool" alongside experts from IBM and US Department of Transportation. This talk highlighted a TRX project funded by the Federal Highway Administration to build the next generation of navigation systems for the 285 million people with vision impairment and blindness in the world. In this project the TRX NEON Indoor Location System is combined with a smartphone mobile app that uses phone's camera to guide the visually-impaired and blind in complicated environments. In the video shown at SXSW, Dr. Kordari demonstrated the use of computer vision algorithms to recognize signs in a building. This vision component verifies that the user has reached the correct destination. Future developments will include finding stairs, elevators, hallways, and doors in the visual scope to help with the navigation.
Wearable technology, and Google Glass in particular, was the mostly discussed topic this year in SXSW conference. This points to a trend where technology is becoming smarter in continuously adapting to our physical environment and behaviors. Precise location technologies, user motion detection, and computer vision are some of the enabling technologies behind this trend that TRX has been focused on and we are proud to be driving a number of the cutting-edge innovations in this space.
Special thanks to Mr. Mohammed Yousuf from USDOT for organizing this session, and our program manager Ms. Charlene Wilder from Federal Transit Administration for her support in this project.
by Carol Politi
Motorola Solutions, Inc. announced today third quarter availability of the TRX NEON Indoor Location Solution working with the Motorola APX(TM) radios at the IWCE show in Las Vegas. APX radios wirelessly pair to the TRX NEON tracking unit, sending real-time location information and precise details to incident commanders about personnel movement and activity. The integration between the Motorola radios and the TRX NEON System is being shown in live demonstrations at IWCE.
The NEON solution is being made available for event security, training, and other mission-essential applications requiring a highly portable system that can deliver precision indoor location. NEON uses unique APX Bluetooth pairing as well as APX data capabilities to transmit location information back to command centers, and stores personnel location data to support after action review for training applications.
The TRX NEON System has been developed with the support of the National Science Foundation, the Department of Homeland Security S&T, the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute, the US Army, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
by Carol Politi
The Chesapeake Regional Tech Council is holding its 8th annual TechAwards 2013 on March 14th, "Geek is the New Chic", and will be honoring the region's rising tech companies, outstanding innovators and all-around top "geeks." TRX Systems Chief Technology Officer and co-founder, Dr. Carole Teolis, is being recognized as a nominee for the Woman in Tech Award which honors individuals who best exemplify the outstanding contributions made by women in advancing technology in industry, business and society.
After several widely publicized tragedies where first responders lost their lives due to inability to locate them inside a burning structure, a small team that included Dr. Teolis, Dr. Gilmer Blankenship (TRX Board Member), and Ben Funk (TRX VP Engineering) began investigating the feasibility of building a system to track and safeguard firefighters inside burning buildings. Excited by the potential of such a system, Dr. Teolis and her colleagues applied for National Science Foundation Small Business Innovative Research support. They won the award in January 2007 and Teolis joined the newly formed spin-off company, TRX Systems.
Teolis and her colleagues developed a fundamentally new approach for indoor location – fusing the results of an array of small, cost effective sensors to identify building features and create site maps as people move around a building. Combining the information from inertial, RF, magnetic, pressure, with a priori available or discovered map information enables delivery of location even where GPS is not available (indoors, underground, and in heavily forested areas).
Today, TRX Systems, Inc. is an award winning developer of NEON — a unique indoor navigation technology that has solved the difficult problem of locating, mapping and tracking people when they are inside buildings where GPS is not available, and in outdoor urban areas where GPS is often unreliable. Thanks to CRTC for highlighting the achievements of Dr. Teolis as a leading technology innovator.
by Carol Politi.
TRX Systems is pleased to announce that NavtechGPS, an expert in GPS/GNSS and precise positioning technology, has partnered with TRX Systems to distribute and help customers integrate the TRX NEON Indoor Location System.
NavtechGPS has broad distribution channels and significant technical experience in precise positioning technologies. This background and experience will assist customers in integrating TRX Systems’ NEON Indoor Location System and TRX Systems’ sensor fusion and mapping technology within indoor and GPS-denied location environments.
“We are excited to finally see an indoor real-time positioning system that doesn't need to rely on infrastructure.” says NavtechGPS Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Franck Boynton.
NavtechGPS has nearly 30 years of practical, hand-on experience in applying GPS / GNSS and precision locating technologies for a broad spectrum of applications, including position, navigation and timing (PNT) applications for dismounted personnel. NavtechGPS also has existing client relationships with military, commercial, government and research institutions, making it easy for customers to acquire the TRX NEON System for their applications.
by Carol Politi
TRX has long been focused on delivering accurate indoor location in areas where floor plans are not available. However, floor plans are increasingly becoming available to assist in indoor location, opening up the ability to deliver higher accuracy location for a broad range of applications – even in buildings where Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or other sources of infrastructure-based location are not consistently available.
Google has more than 10,000 floor plans available, Micello delivers access to floor plans for over 15,000 indoor venues, Microsoft (Bing) delivers maps for thousands of local shopping malls and other venues, and Nokia – long a leader in mapping for navigation – delivers routing and guidance indoors through their “Destination Maps” initiative. And map innovation is not stopping with the indoors. Apple, Nokia and others are delivering fantastic maps of 3D spaces (the 3D map view from Nokia through Here.com is fantastic).
While TRX delivers location in many locations and venues where maps are not available, 3D map and floor plan information provides valuable constraints that can significantly improve the accuracy of indoor location estimates. If you don’t know about a wall – or if that wall might change in real time (in a military, or fire application, for example) – you certainly can’t count on it for navigation. However, in training, enterprise, and consumer applications, walls, doorways, and other building features can provide significant enhancements.
The challenge in the past has been getting consistent access to such mapping data, and keeping it accurate. TRX discovers map features as people move about in buildings, however, if no-one has traversed an area, features can’t be discovered. Given that there are a myriad of companies with staffs focused on delivering accurate indoor mapping data, it is now possible to merge dynamically discovered features with known features – opening up not only using a richer set of map data for location calculations, but also the potential to dynamically update maps when they have changed. The merger of known maps with dynamically built maps is a powerful capability when it comes to improving indoor location calculations.
by Carol Politi
GPS technology is now an integral part of our lives - affecting how we plan our days and navigate, and delivering essential security for our families. With a clear view of 3 GPS satellites, you can acquire an approximate 2D (X&Y) position and with a clear view of 4 GPS satellites, you can obtain a 3D (X, Y, Z) position.
However, a variety of factors conspire to disrupt our getting accurate position information from GPS. When operating in urban areas, signals can reflect off buildings and vehicles, driving errors into the receiver location estimate (this effect is known as "multipath"). As a result, GPS-based location tends to have significant errors in many urban environments. When you walk indoors, the satellites are typically blocked entirely, making GPS impossible to acquire.
As Tony Costa of Forrester Research points out in "Indoor Venues Are The Next Frontier For Location-Based Services", we spend 90% of our lives indoors. Some of these indoor spaces are large and complicated, so better navigation would be helpful. We would all like to avoid looking at more "you are here" signs! Beyond that there are critical life-safety applications - including returning more precision for public safety applications. And for accessibility reasons, it is vital that we offer solutions for navigating precisely both indoors and out.
The myriad of solutions being developed to seamlessly deliver indoor location is broad and complex - ranging from geolocated lights to Bluetooth nodes to mapped Wi-Fi spaces. However, solutions can generally be divided up into two categories:
1) Infrastructure-based, geolocated nodes/anchors. Infrastructure-based solutions are becoming available for high-density public areas (malls, airports) that typically rely upon mapping the location of Wi-Fi access points in these locations or installing geolocated & networked nodes (Bluetooth, LED lights, etc.) which communicate with your phone or a receiving device. Because high density public spaces typically have many Wi-Fi access points, Wi-Fi mapping can be very helpful in these locations. These public spaces get significant traffic so the time and energy spent doing the mapping and/or node installations tends to be worthwhile.
2. Infrastructure-free, sensor fusion & map building. The sensor fusion and map building technologies innovated by TRX complements these infrastructure-based solutions. Any "global reference" - whether it is GPS, precisely mapped Wi-Fi, or geolocated Bluetooth nodes - delivers an initialization point, location update, or location constraint. When these global references are not available, get moved, or have gaps in coverage, it is in some cases vital - and in other cases desirable - to continue to seamlessly deliver location. That's when embedded sensor and dynamic mapping solutions can really help. Information from gyroscopes, accelerometers, compasses, pressure and other sensors - along with known or inferred map information - can be fused in a way to deliver a relative location estimate. That is to determine how and where you have moved since you last received a global update.
A combination of these technologies will be used to close the gaps and deliver location during the 90% of our lives spent indoors. This should make our lives more efficient and more importantly - should make the world a safer place.
by Carol Politi
TRX is looking for a talented Mechanical Engineer to design and manufacture compact, rugged enclosures for the TRX Indoor Location Device and future products. We need someone that will oversee all aspects of the mechanical design from concept through medium scale manufacturing, including creating and testing prototypes using rapid prototyping processes, holding design reviews, and performing detailed failure mode analysis. The job includes a close collaboration with TRX Electrical Engineers during the design process, and management of our interfaces to outside test labs to verify drop test, IP67, and mil spec ratings compliance. It also includes working with manufacturers to build injection mold tooling, all operations management responsibility for our builds (finding/ordering necessary parts, etc.), development of final assembly instructions and product documentation, and coordination with any outside resources used to support device assemply. We are looking for someone that is comfortable with interacting with strategic partners and customers in order to support all requests related to mechanical components. Contact us if you want to work with a great team & game changing technology! More details HERE.
by Carol Politi.
TRX's Chief Technology Officer, Carole Teolis (supported by contributions from other members of the TRX team) has co-authored a new book titled "Geolocation Techniques, Principles, and Applications". The book is an excellent resource for anyone interested in a comprehensive overview of geolocation technologies and approaches for indoor navigation- including covering RF & ranging (and the impact of multipath environments), cellular, inertial, and localization and mapping corrections.
The authors of the book include Camillo Gentile (National Institute of Standards and Technology), Nayef Alsindi (Etilsalat BT Innovation Center, Khalifa University of Science, Technology, and Research), Ronald Raulefs (German Aerospace Center), and Carole Teolis (TRX Systems).
by Carole Teolis
The University of Maryland sponsors an industrial collaboration program called the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program. The program supports Maryland companies (MIPS provides funding which is matched by the participating companies) in collaborating with university faculty and students. The collaborations provide access to technology expertise and state-of-the-art university lab facilities. It also provides a mechanism for transferring university technology to companies. The goal by jointly funding collaborative university-industry R&D projects is to help companies integrate cutting edge technologies into their products to solve real problems. The program has been incredibly successfully both in technology transfer and in creating and retaining jobs in the State of Maryland.
TRX collaborated with MIPS to develop a ruggedized design for our indoor location system to meet the requirements of the DOD and public safety communities. The program gave TRX access to both facilities and resources required to ensure we would meet the demanding requirements of these markets.
Last night MIPS held its 25th anniversary gala. During the Gala, it was noted that MIPS has supported development projects with more than 500 different Maryland companies since 1987. The commercial products resulting from these MIPS projects have generated more than $23.6 billion in revenue! In addition to TRX, the companies and products represented at the MIPS gala included Martek Biosciences (nutritional oils), Hughes Communications (HughesNet™), MedImmune (Synagis®), and Black & Decker (Bullet® Speed Tip Masonry Drill Bit). The MIPS blog has some excellent profiles of these programs.