IoT positioning in the spotlight at GSA webinar

08 July 2020
Innovative solutions will help unblock GNSS potential for the Internet of Things.
Innovative solutions will help unblock GNSS potential for the Internet of Things.

Over 100 participants came together online on 18 June to discuss power-efficient positioning for the Internet of Things at a webinar organised by the European GNSS Agency (GSA). At the webinar, which featured input from innovation projects and major chipset manufacturers in the IoT domain, the European GNSS Agency (GSA) presented its recent White Paper on the topic.

The GSA White Paper on Power-efficient positioning for the Internet of Things provides an overview of GNSS technologies that are relevant for low-power IoT applications, including those that require hybridisation with other connectivity solutions. Participants in the webinar were introduced to the main findings from the paper.

According to the White Paper, GNSS is a viable solution for outdoor tracking of IoT objects but the level of power consumption associated with positioning can be a block to increased GNSS uptake. In the White Paper, three main approaches are identified to reduce GNSS power consumption. Firstly, there is the use of assisted GNSS, which consists in using a communication network to supply the GNSS receiver with data that makes it possible to speed up the acquisition phase. 

The second approach involves the transmission of pseudoranges, where the power consumption related to determining position is saved by transmitting the measurements to an external facility with no power restrictions. Finally, use of snapshot techniques means that the GNSS receiver is only activated for short periods to determine the position.

Big potential for GNSS

“We see big potential for the use of GNSS in the Internet of Things, but this potential is not yet being exploited. This is why we published our White Paper, explaining how to unblock it, and organised this webinar at which innovation projects explained their GNSS-based solutions providing real benefits to the IoT,” Fiammetta Diani, Head of Market Development at the GSA, said at the start of the webinar.

In addition to innovation projects, well-established manufacturers ST Microelectronics and u-blox also presented their GNSS-based positioning solutions providing reduced power consumption, making them ideal for the Internet of Things.  Such an example includes STMicroelectronic’s Teseo LIV-3F, a tiny GNSS module for IoT that, despite its small size, provides the same robustness and reliability as bigger GNSS automotive solutions.

Also presenting at the webinar were EU-funded R&D projects that are working to optimise energy use of GNSS positioning for IoT applications. These include: “Accurate GNSS POsitioning for Low power and Low-cost Objects” (APOLLO), which aims at providing a Galileo-based geolocation solution for the IoT market by drastically reducing energy consumption.

Also presenting were GEONAV IoT, which is working to develop and deliver precise ubiquitous positioning and navigation applications and services; and Galileo of Things (GoT), which is targeting the delivery of a Galileo semiconductor-IP core that mates with NB-IoT IP for low-power consumption solutions.

Enthusiastic uptake

Global uptake of IoT applications has been rapid and enthusiastic and by 2022 it is estimated that around 18 billion out of 29 billion connected devices will be related to the IoT. With many interconnected devices in the IoT environment constantly on the move, there are applications that require or might at least benefit from knowing the precise location of a given device. 

In light of the power-saving solutions highlighted in the GSA White Paper and discussed during the recent webinar, it is clear that GNSS industry is listening to the needs of the IoT community so that the most accurate positioning solution can play an increasingly important role without depleting the precious batteries of the devices.

This webinar is just one of the many online activities GSA has been organizing to support IoT and the use of GNSS to boost innovative solutions. “There is still plenty of room for GNSS based solutions in the IoT ecosystem, but a larger number of available options and the variety of applications will require more knowledge in order to choose the best solution for each specific application”, said Oreste Concepito from u-blox.

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Updated: Jul 08, 2020