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Indoor Positioning Systems (or IPS) are based on infrared and radio frequency technologies. A typical IPS tracks people wearing badges or carrying devices that transmit wireless signals to receivers located in ceilings or on walls. The receivers are connected to a local network and send the data to servers that calculate location and make the information available in various ways.
One venue where IPS are being tested is in hospitals. The system allows the hospital to track surgeons, nurses, patients and equipment used during surgical operations and to store the information in databases. Knowing where people and things are makes it possible to react more quickly to emergencies.
Unfortunately, cost can be a major hurdle in deploying indoor positioning systems based on infrared or radio-frequency technology. Generating accurate information on location often necessitates large numbers of receivers, which can be expensive.
Among the developers of location technology is Wheels of Zeus, a firm run by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. It is working on portable systems that can easily be moved around to track people, pets and things. One system, which is expected to become available in 2004, can cover a range of one to two miles using radio frequency technology, the company says. Privacy issues are numerous and are as yet unresolved, but researchers are optimistic. So perhaps in the future, you won’t have to ask “Where is my spouse?”. You’ll have the technology to know.
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