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Sub-Centimeter Positioning Coming To Mobile Phones

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the we-control-the-latitude-we-control-the-longitude dept.

Cellphones 70

Oooskar writes "SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping), a technique invented by NASA, defines the concept of building a 3D-map of the environment and simultaneously computing the position within it. Based on SLAM, Swedish startup 13th Lab has implemented real-time sub-centimeter local 3D-positioning by using only the sensors, most importantly the camera, already present in most mobile devices (demo video). The technology will be made available as a software platform for developers (sign up for beta). A first application demonstrating the technology has just been released for the iPad2. The technology should be available on other devices with similar computational power soon."

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first post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36765232)

ha-ha-ha

Re:first post (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36765448)

Sub centimetre? Now they'll be able to zero-in on where youve geo-cached your Johnston.

Re:first post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36766448)

Johnston?

haha you are faget worse than Michael Jackston. Please to suck my dingdong.

Ordnance Survey (1)

NSN A392-99-964-5927 (1559367) | more than 3 years ago | (#36766696)

Sub centimetre? Now they'll be able to zero-in on where youve geo-cached your Johnston.

Just in case that some of you need to be educated and Jeremiah likes the Chemical Bros/Junior Boys Own/Faithless *grin*

Triangulation is accurate within 3 feet from John `O Groats to Lands End. Ordnance Survey Maps are 31337. Air-strikes are called in over AWACS by manual co-ordinates by special forces....... America has dumb F16's pilots with friendly fire attacks.

SLAM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36765234)

dut duh dut

Re:SLAM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36765328)

dut duh dut

let the boys be boys

Great, if only we had this before Abbotabad! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36765284)

Great, if only we had this before Abbotabad, we would have gotten the evil monger earlier!

Re:matrix Style! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36765354)

Cool, we would be hurtling bullets at them Matrix Style! Here we come with our ipad2 weapons! Apple is going to be the biggest weapon maker ever!

SLAMS by NASA? (1)

scarface71795 (1920250) | more than 3 years ago | (#36765312)

Could have swore that was a Missile Defense system. Couldn't resist, sorry.

Re:SLAMS by NASA? (1)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | more than 3 years ago | (#36765428)

I thought it was a remote explosive / laser tripwire bomb kind of device. :S

Anything but a phone... (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#36765314)

I'm sure there are lots of useful applications for this tech, but I doubt it will be popular in the cell phone market. A cell phone is not exactly a "precision" instrument to begin with, so how would you use such data in the real world?

I suspect this will find a lot of cool niches to fill in other devices, but phones? Not so much.

Re:Anything but a phone... (2)

allanw (842185) | more than 3 years ago | (#36765330)

It'd be pretty useful for augmented reality, or position indoors.

Re:Anything but a phone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36765350)

Clearly you watched the video before forming your opinion on how relevant and effective this tech is on a mobile device.

Re:Anything but a phone... (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#36765656)

Sorry, I don't mean to diss it. Yes, I did watch the video, but that was just a game. I'm wondering what useful applications will be made with this. I'm sure there are some, but the video did not impress me that much.

Re:Anything but a phone... (1)

RKBA (622932) | more than 3 years ago | (#36766004)

... I'm wondering what useful applications will be made with this.

Target acquisition for the new micro-UAVs [sciencedaily.com] the DOD is developing with armed weaponry. They need test subjects.

Re:Anything but a phone... (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36766120)

Guiding the blind. Steer down the street, where a 1 metre error = hit by car.

Guiding the drunk (driver).

Re:Anything but a phone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36766104)

I see the military being very interested in this. Any training situation where potential harm could come from using live humans (e.g. doctors, soldiers, flight, etc.) I also see the game industry possibly frothing at the mouth over this. However, I don't see it's future with me quite yet, which usually means it'll be quite popular.

Re:Anything but a phone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36765364)

I'm sure there are lots of useful applications for this tech, but I doubt it will be popular in the cell phone market. A cell phone is not exactly a "precision" instrument to begin with, so how would you use such data in the real world?

Augmented Reality. [wikipedia.org]

Personally, I'm just annoyed that this is going to have an acronym I'll get mixed up with Sub-Light Acceleration Motors. [wikia.com]

Re:Anything but a phone... (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#36765924)

We already had augmented reality, but I guess this takes it to the next level somehow. Personally I don't use augmented reality much, so maybe that's why I'm not swept off my feet by this innovation.

Re:Anything but a phone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36766706)

take 1 modern phone, examine.
Phone = small, robust, mobile, sometimes multi-core, radio enabled, loudspeaker containing, camera and microphone equipped, computing devise with low power usage pre built in standard input ports an an inbuilt user interface/display.
Consider "phone" historic name not actual descriptive label.
Compare feature list to required list for the "head" of a human killing, [cough] sorry household assistance robot.
Requirements = see, hear, communicate/display status, proses sensory input, make decisions, take commands, connect to body components.

Congratulations humans, soon you will all be obsolete

What it is / What it isn't. (1)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 3 years ago | (#36765352)

Apparently - this is for "mapping" relativity small areas - like interior areas - to be done with something like a vehicle or small robot which can "scan" the area with the camera.

This is not something like global, wide-area sub-millimeter GPS accuracy.

Re:What it is / What it isn't. (2)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 3 years ago | (#36766342)

It would be pretty cool for interior design work... will that furniture set fit in this area? what about entertainment center placement? Oooh, colors on the walls? I mean there are a lot of applications that do some of this, but being able to do a short 360 turn, and have it image, and map out a living space could be very useful. Probably more so 5-10 years ago during the house flipping boom, just the same. I also think it would be cool to be able to aggregate that data into real-world mapping, and correlate with other views via GPS... want to get a general landscape for an area you (city) want to build a park on... There are lots of areas where low accuracy is good enough for a proof of idea, and especially in the design space.

Re:What it is / What it isn't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36766462)

ahh but if you combine this technology with something like google goggles... One tells you which starbucks you're going into, the other let's you shoot little balls at the hipsters therein

Re:What it is / What it isn't. (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 3 years ago | (#36767608)

I could see using something like this for inspection work/etc. A phone-based solution might also be useful if you need surveying but without any legal need for a certified survey (small building projects, etc). It would be nice to be able to easily dig posts for a fence or deck and have everything just "line up" in the end.

Cool tech, but why phones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36765362)

Cool tech. Could be very useful in a surgical bay, or inside a power plant's machinery, or..... But why put it in a cellphone? Can't cruise missiles already track phones to a precision much finer than the blast radius?

Neat (3, Insightful)

Normal Dan (1053064) | more than 3 years ago | (#36765382)

There's always a slight hint of jealousy when things like this come out. Either I had a similar idea and no time to work on it, or I kick myself for not coming up with the idea myself. c'est la vie

Re:Neat (1)

mini me (132455) | more than 3 years ago | (#36765546)

As a farmer, I came up with a very similar idea of using the camera and other sensors on a cell phone to determine a tractor's position in the field for autonomous operation. You can buy very expensive GPS (RTK)-based systems that do the same, but I wanted something that would run on low-cost consumer devices with the only external interface being to the tractor's mechanical components.

Like you, I unfortunately could find the time to work on it. However, I am very excited about this because it means that research I would have had to do myself is already done. The means the time it will take to turn my idea into a viable product, which is what really matters, has been greatly reduced.

Re:Neat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36767838)

I unfortunately could find the time to work on it.

In this economy, this might or might not be a typo.

Re:Neat (1)

mswhippingboy (754599) | more than 3 years ago | (#36768296)

That'd be great, until you plow under your chickens while the GPS device is "recalculating".... Just what we need, a 13-ton, 300HP behemoth dragging a ground churning attachment running a muck while your sitting in the living room drinking tea.

Re:Neat (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36769490)

running a muck

amok
running amok

Re:Neat (1)

lewiscr (3314) | more than 3 years ago | (#36776866)

Depending on his soil type [wikipedia.org] , the tractor might be running a muck, while running amok.

Batman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36766322)

One of the batman movies used the devices in a similar manner, though using echolocation (since that's more in line with the bat theme). The outcome was still the ability to "see" all of the places within range of phones in the city of Gotham, and was used to locate or track someone as I recall.

Medical or scientific use (1)

Mn3m0nic (234085) | more than 3 years ago | (#36765396)

From watching the video in the article, I can see this being useful for someone that needs to keeps his eyes on something (cut open patient being operated on) while giving him extra information. In other words, he can see an image on the screen of what the organ looks like while simultaneously seeing the tissue he's cutting through trying to get to it. You can modify that to other scientific uses as well. That will be further down the road though.

Your cellphone is in a drawer... (2)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#36765476)

"by using only the sensors, most importantly the camera, already present in most mobile devices"

Not going to help much if the device is inside something, like a pocket of a coat, a drawer, a bag or purse etc.
If it was out in the open, I could see it or hear it.

Re:Your cellphone is in a drawer... (1, Interesting)

raddan (519638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36765684)

I, too, wonder about the usefulness of the camera. There's also the issue of power, which on mobile devices is a major issue. You might be willing to spend power if spatial precision is why the device exists, but I suspect that most people have other uses for their cellphones.

That said, there are other useful sensors on the phone, namely the accelerometer, the microphone, the wi-fi antenna, and in some cases, a magnetometer. These folks [mit.edu] used those sensors, especially the accelerometer which has a negligible effect on battery life, in combination with a hidden Markov model in order to accurately predict a person's position. Not sub-centimeter, but good enough for regular people. Of course, the model had intimate knowledge of the surrounding area and transit schedules, but it's a neat idea. I especially liked the idea of using a DFT to differentiate between walking and riding the bus.

Anyway, point is: a coat pocket may not be an obstacle. Don't forget that modern phones have a surprising amount of processing power and memory.

Not just NASA (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36765496)

A lot of the foundation for SLAM came out of Kalman filtering... Kalman filtering is essentially a state estimation technique reconciling where you THINK you are versus where your sensors TELL you you are. The technology was originally developed and applied for use on the guidance systems for the Apollo missions. SLAM is a giant step beyond just Kalman filtering though and there has been a large body of work from a large number of university researches. To sum it up as NASA technology is a little misleading. www.awkwardengineer.com [awkwardengineer.com]

Re:Not just NASA (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36765794)

The whole summary (and I suspect the article as well) is misleading. SLAM has been an active area of research for many years. Given the types of sensors on an iPad, there is no way it could be accurate enough to give sub-centimeter positioning except perhaps under very controlled conditions. Search for SLAM in robotics journals and you'll see all kinds of results, none of which would claim sub-centimeter accuracy. There's a reason why DARPA Grand Challenge and Urban Challenge vehicles all had laser scanners - doing SLAM with simple vision in complex environments is non-trivial.

Sigh, now I'm going to have to explain to my boss why we are funding SLAM research when you can just download an app to do it.

Re:Not just NASA (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 3 years ago | (#36766670)

Indeed, the summary makes it sounds like "SLAM" is the name of a piece of software developed by NASA, when really it's a generic acronym describing an entire field of research. Terrible summary.

(And the Kalman filter is so overhyped and misunderstood, it has begun to get on my nerves. It's Bayes Rule for the special case of a linear system and Gaussian probability densities, applied over and over. That's it. People get so wrapped up in its "optimality" that they forget what it actually is. I wonder, how many people even bother to actually use empirically-measured noise covariances in their Kalman filters (in which case, what is its optimality worth?)).

this + android = robotics (1)

arabagast (462679) | more than 3 years ago | (#36765552)

I'm eagerly awaiting an android version of this. This software, an android phone and a robot platform controlled by the android phone: Cool stuff alert

Re:this + android = robotics (1)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 3 years ago | (#36765754)

+ Lego Mindstorms!

Re:this + android = robotics (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 3 years ago | (#36766414)

I'd +1 that. (and + Arduino for additional control interfaces)

Beautiful, isn't it? (1)

jhsiao (525216) | more than 3 years ago | (#36765738)

Fox: You took my sonar concept and applied it to every phone in the city. With half the city feeding you sonar, you can image all of Gotham. This is wrong.

Batman: I've got to find this man, Lucius.

Fox: At what cost?

Batman: The database is null-key encrypted. It can only be accessed by one person.

Fox: This is too much power for one person.

Batman: It's why I gave it to you. Only you can use it.

Fox: Spying on 30 million people isn't part of my job description.

Batman: This is an audio sample. If he talks within range of any phone in the city, you can triangulate his position.

Fox: I'll help you this one time. But consider this my resignation. As long as this machine is in Wayne Enterprises, I won't be.

Batman: When you're finished, type in your name.

Re:Beautiful, isn't it? (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 3 years ago | (#36766988)

The database is null-key encrypted.

So it's not encrypted?

New ads (4, Funny)

vawwyakr (1992390) | more than 3 years ago | (#36765786)

"It looks like you've been standing at this urinal for more than 10 seconds, would you like some information on swollen prostate drugs or some soothing sounds of water dripping?"

Re:New ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36767174)

"You and your wife are in different rooms at 10:00pm. Perhaps you need to take a dose of ENGORGE!!!!+1+1+1"

Re:New ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36768764)

I recommend weight loss, less salt, and... you know... not pounding your prostate with that huge dildo so much! ;))

Re:New ads (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#36769562)

"It looks like you've been standing at this urinal for more than 10 seconds, would you like some information on swollen prostate drugs or some soothing sounds of water dripping?"

Clippy, is that you? I didn't want you on my screen and I sure as hell don't want you in the bathroom with me! Get out!

SPHERES (1)

mad_minstrel (943049) | more than 3 years ago | (#36765996)

I wonder if NASA are using this tech in their SPHERES [nasa.gov] thingies.

Yawn (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 3 years ago | (#36766062)

Wake me up when I can use my phone as a mouse...

Re:Yawn (1)

Agent0013 (828350) | more than 3 years ago | (#36768136)

Wake me up when I can use my phone as a mouse...

Hey!!! Wakeup!!!

You can do that now! http://www.devbury.com/ [devbury.com]

Re:Yawn (0)

raddan (519638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36769690)

Being able to use it as a mouse and the computer would be even better. Wireless monitor, keyboard, and network interface.

Good for planking, on sharks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36766256)

Here is a Norwegian kid, planking on a thirty foot (dead) shark - http://www.vg.no/nyheter/utrolige-historier/artikkel.php?artid=10088644

If it doesn't drift away he would have gotten the best thirty foot shark coordinates ever! Too sad it is not out yet. It seems really useful for even the most unexpected circumstances.

Awesome for architects and builders (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#36766568)

If you could create a quick map of a lot, or of a building, using this type of technique, it could save countless hours of measurement and recordation. It would make quick building surveys of existing conditions take hours instead of days. This could have some very cool applications in my world, indeed!

Re:Awesome for architects and builders (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 3 years ago | (#36766690)

It would also make it very easy to find your way back to your vehicle in a crowded parking lot.... assuming it can work in such a space where the contents are constantly changing.

Re:Awesome for architects and builders (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 3 years ago | (#36771060)

There's already an app for that: MagicPlan (http://ww.sensopia.com/english/index.html).

Original paper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36766756)

Anyone know what algorithm they're using? I'm familiar with RatSLAM which creates a map from your movement with the camera but knows nothing about the 3-D structure of your surroundings - I like how they bounced balls of the wall and I'm curious how they infer 3D structure.

Open Source (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#36766940)

Here's [openslam.org] an open source variant.

Centimetre (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 3 years ago | (#36767086)

Thank you Slashdot for finally using metric!

Your next job is to correctly spell centimetre!

It's a French word; it's a soft "er". :p

Re:Centimetre (1)

operator_error (1363139) | more than 3 years ago | (#36767272)

At this time, only three countries - Burma, Liberia, and the US - have not adopted the International System of Units (SI, or metric system) as their official system of weights and measures. Although use of the metric system has been sanctioned by law in the US since 1866, it has been slow in displacing the American adaptation of the British Imperial System known as the US Customary System. The US is the only industrialized nation that does not mainly use the metric system in its commercial and standards activities, but there is increasing acceptance in science, medicine, government, and many sectors of industry.

Sort of off-topic I'll grant you, but ain't it an interesting factoid and source folks?

U.S. CIA World Factbook [cia.gov]

Re:Centimetre (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36767806)

The United Kingdom and Canada also partially retain the Imperial system.

Re:Centimetre (1)

haulbag (1160391) | more than 3 years ago | (#36768670)

My father worked at Boeing and was involved in engineering lots of aircraft, including top-secret projects for the DOD. He said the reason they used inches and feet, etc., is that different countries use slightly different lengths for the millimeter, centimeter, meter, etc. According to him, the tiny differences can cause real problems fitting everything together, especially when sourcing parts from different countries. I'm not sure if that's the whole story, or if it is still the case.

Re:Centimetre (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36771758)

Sorry, your father was wrong. The idea of SI was to standardize. Read the history. A meter is a meter and the length has been standardized since 1795. A centimeter is .01 of a meter, etc. Maybe Boeing was sourcing parts from inferior companies for their top secret projects for the DOD.
     

Ads (1)

parkmw (925390) | more than 3 years ago | (#36767118)

I half expected an Ad to show up floating around when they were moving the iPad2 around the room.

Can't wait.. (1)

formfeed (703859) | more than 3 years ago | (#36767342)

.. to put an old cell phone on my lawn mower.

Question about GPS (1)

tomzyk (158497) | more than 3 years ago | (#36768100)

While I understand the general concept of how GPS locating works (your device captures timestamps from 3-or-more various global positioning satellites, then calculates where in the world you are), I've always been curious about how accurrate they can actually be.

If you are going to calculate, down to sub-centimeter distances, where your device is, wouldn't you need to know the EXACT location of these satellites, down to the sub-centimeter level of its altitude/lattitude/longitude? Like, if one of the satellites drifts slightly out of place from where they think it is, couldn't that throw off all calculations?

I always thought GPS could only determine your location down to roughly a 5-meter range because that's as good a guess that anyone could make as to where in orbit they are. No?

All I can think of is that maybe there are ground stations that the satellites use to find THEIR locations in orbit, kind of a GPS-locating that the orbiting satellites use... but I haven't really heard of any of that. Anyone know anything about this? Just curious.

Re:Question about GPS (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#36768244)

The other thing is that The Americas and Europe are moving apart at about 2.5cm per year, so even if you have the precise location in relation to the satellite, the fact that the ground is moving limits how accurately you can determine whereabouts in for example New York is exactly underneath it.

On the other hand the most accurate version of GPS is able to land a plane without looking out the window, and that requires an accuracy of a bit better than 5 meters to hit the runway.

Re:Question about GPS (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36768428)

Whilst a standard consumer GPS can only be accurate to 5m or so, survey level equipment can be accurate to the nearest mm. There are two main differences. Firstly, survey level equipment fully uses the carrier phase from the GPS satellites, whereas consumer equipment only uses the code phase, which is less accurate. Secondly, survey equipment can receive corrections from a base station, which gives the GPS information on how much the satellite signals are out by. The combination of these two is called Real Time Kinematic surveying, and is very accurate.

Whilst the continents do drift, it is usually by known amounts over time, so the GPS coordinates (WGS84) can be converted to a coordinate system anchored to a particular tectonic plate, e.g. ETRS89 for Europe.

But then.... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 3 years ago | (#36768786)

....a defect in one of the Galaxy S sensors will give you sub-centimeter positioning two and a half blocks to West-Northwest of your actual position. Samsung will deny the defect for six months, then release a patch that doesn't affect the problem.

not particularly impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36769298)

Not that impressive, especially the demo. Shows very little motion, lighting changes, discontinuities, etc... I wonder how they handle the scale problem with only one lense?

http://www.betterwholesaler.us (0)

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