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  • Tracking

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    Tim Kannegieter

    A key application of IOT is in tracking things that move around. This is common in agriculture, tracking machinery and animals; in transport, tracking trucks, carriages etc; and in retail, tracking product shipments.

    For a lot of urban applications and indoor applications, tracking an item such as a shopping trolley or a pet, Wi-Fi becomes a fairly competitive option because it functions indoors, and because of the density of WiFi hotspots it is effective in many outdoor areas as well. WiFi provides tracking by allowing devices to scan for the Wi-Fi routers in the area that is around the device, send the WiFi hotspot to a Google API that then gives location as latitude and longitude coordinates.  

    In other cases when using a Low Power Wide Are Network knowing that the device is in a general suburb may be sufficient.

    There are a range of traditional traditional tracking technologies, such as GPS and RFD, which can also be integrated with IOT to create more cost-effective solutions.

    Some tracking applications may require a combination of these methods as well as intelligent design.


    • Pet tracker: Considering the case of a pet tracker, owners may think that they need the device to report pet location say every 5 minutes.  That will result in a large, expensive device which requires frequent battery recharging or replacement.  In reality, the owner may only require frequent location updates when the pet is out of their yard or lost, allowing a much more efficient scheme to be implemented.  Intelligence,  like detecting movement using an accelerometer or by using geo-fencing, can optimise the tradeoff between reporting frequency and energy consumption.  
    • Tracking parcels: In parcel/container tracking applications an accelerometer can be used to determine if the item is actually moving or not. When moving the frequency of reporting may be every few minutes or hours. However, if it then it goes on a shelf and the sensor can tell it is not moving, the system can reduce the reporting to once or day or only to resume when it starts moving again.
    • Asset tracking: Important objects in buildings can be easily lost or can result in lower productivity as people walk around trying to find them. See the case study from Blue IoT on how this can be addressed.


    Edited by Tim Kannegieter


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