Search impact stories
Video Content: 
0

Mitacs-Accelerate interns help navigate the way to revolutionary positioning software

Global Positioning System (GPS) technology has changed the way we navigate the world. It can now be found in our smart phones, in many cars, and can be used to track anything from aircraft to lost bushwalkers.

But GPS has one major drawback which limits its use – it doesn’t work accurately indoors.  Because it relies on signals from satellites, accuracy is also compromised when trying to navigate between tall buildings in urban areas, or under dense foliage.

Calgary-based Trusted Positioning Inc. set out to change this by developing software that would allow for accurate and continuous positioning of a device in any location, be it inside, underground, or in the heart of a dense urban city.

In partnership with TECTERRA, which supports the development and commercialization of geomatics technologies, the company sought expertise from Queen’s University graduate students Ahmed Wahdan, Medhat Omar and Mostafa Elhoushi.  The three interns were completing their Masters/PhD of Applied Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering under the supervision of Dr. Aboelmagd Noureldin.

Through a Mitacs-Accelerate internship and close collaboration with the Trusted Positioning R&D team, the students took on the challenge to develop navigation modules to help increase the accuracy of the Trusted Portable Navigator in all locations.

They successfully developed the needed modules that use signals from multiple sensors on a mobile device to enhance the determination of its position.  When the device is taken indoors or out of range of a satellite signal, the system combines data from accelerometers, magnetometers and gyroscopes to determine the direction and speed it is heading in.  The developed modules determined step length and how fast the user is walking, to obtain an enhanced estimate of the distance traveled and thus the location.

Intern Ahmed Wahdan said Mitacs-Accelerate helped turn the research project into commercialized technology.

“The product has been commercialized through the Trusted Portable Navigation Software, which is now being sold to mobile phone vendors.  With this technology, users will be able to navigate their way through a large shopping mall, track down their lost cell phone, or even more accurately monitor their progress with a smartphone fitness app.”

And it is not just individuals that will benefit.  The system can be used to track soldiers as they move through a building, monitor an offender whilst they are indoors, or even track mining workers underground.

“Mitacs-Accelerate gave me the chance to get involved in an industrial project so that I was able to correlate between theory and application, and gave me the chance to work with an industrial partner and learn from experienced leaders,” said Wahdan.

CEO of Trusted Positioning, Chris Goodall, said Mitacs-Accelerate gave them the perfect opportunity to tap the expertise of the university research team to build on the company’s knowledge and successfully enhance the development of a commercial product.  “It allowed us to source high-intellect individuals and it’s a great way to get to know a potential future employee, as we plan to hire Ahmed full-time after his graduation in 2013.  We like the program and will continue funding new internships.”

Image: TECTERRA

 

Mitacs gratefully acknowledges the Government of Canada, the Networks of Centres of Excellence's Industrial Research and Development Internship program and the Government of Ontario for their support of Mitacs-Accelerate in the province.