Anticipating the strain on the ability of fifth generation (5G) networks keeping track of rapidly growing mobile devices, engineers from Tufts University have come up with an improved algorithm for localizing and tracking these products.
Rather than depending upon the centralized anchors such as cell towers or GPS satellites, the new algorithm distributes the task among devices themselves.
Algorithm for effective location awareness – what is it?
As the number of devices increases, more centralized servers are required. Centralized positioning can become unwieldy as the number of items to track grows significantly. As an alternative to these centralized solutions, the researchers have come up with a method of distributed localization in a 5G network in which devices locate themselves without all of them needing direct access to anchors. Sensing and calculations are done locally on the device which eliminates the need for a central coordinator to collect and process data.
The new self-localization algorithm developed by researchers makes use of device-to-device communication. Thus, it can be used indoors, underground, underwater or under thick cloud cover. The key in the algorithm is to obtain the position of device rapidly and track them in real-time. To accomplish this, researchers have substituted the non-linear position calculations (which are demanding and can miss their mark if the initial guess at position is in the wrong place) with a linear model that quickly and reliably converges on the accurate position of the device.
This new approach which leads to computationally simpler calculation, emerges from the result of devices measuring their location relative to each other or a point representing ‘centre of mass’ of neighbouring devices, rather than a set of stationary anchors. Convergence to accurate positions via this algorithm is extremely fast, making real-time tracking of a large number of devices feasible.
“The need to provide location awareness of every device, sensor or vehicle, whether stationary or moving, is going to figure more prominently in the future,” said Usman Khan, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering in the School of Engineering at Tufts University. “There will be applications for tracking assets and inventory, healthcare, security, agriculture, environmental science, military operations, emergency response, industrial automation, self-driving vehicles, robotics – the list is endless. The virtually limitless potential of the Internet-of-(many)-Things requires us to develop smart decentralized algorithms,” he added.
Researchers claimed that in addition to preparing us for a future of ubiquitous connected devices, this approach could relieve pressure on current infrastructure by removing the need to install a lot of transmitters (anchors) in buildings and neighbourhoods.