A Dat a Fusion Technique for Wireless Ranging Performance Improvement - 2013


The increasing diffusion of mobile and portable devices provided with wireless connectivity makes the problem of distance measurement based on radio-frequency technologies increasingly important for the development of next-generation nomadic applications. In this paper, the performance limitations of two classic wireless ranging techniques based on received signal strength (RSS) and two-way time-of-flight (ToF) measurements, respectively, are analyzed and compared in detail. On the basis of this study, a data fusion algorithm is proposed to combine both techniques in order to improve ranging accuracy. The algorithm has been implemented and tested on the field using a dedicated embedded prototype made with commercial off-the-shelf components. Several experimental results prove that the combination of both techniques can significantly reduce measurement uncertainty. The results obtained with the developed prototype are not accurate enough for fine-grained position tracking in Ambient Assisted Living applications. However, the platform can be successfully used for reliable indoor zoning, e.g., for omnidirectional and adjustable hazard proximity detection. Most importantly, the proposed solution is absolutely general, and it is quite simple and light from the computational point of view. Accuracy could be further improved by using a more isotropic antenna and by integrating the ToF measurement technique at the lowest possible level on the same radio chip used for Communication. Usually, this feature is not available in typical low-cost short-range wireless modules, e.g., for wireless sensor networks. Thus, the results of this research suggest that combining RSS with ToF measurements could be a viable solution for chip manufacturers interested in adding ranging capabilities to their radio modules.

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