ILoViT: Indoor Localization via Vibration Tracking
Indoor localization remains an open problem in geolocation research, and once this is solved the localization enables counting and tracking of building occupants.
This information is vital in an emergency, enables occupancy-optimized heating or cooling, and assists smart buildings in tailoring services for occupants. Unfortunately, two prevalent technologies---GPS and cellular-based positioning---perform poorly indoors due to attenuation and multipath from the building. To address this issue, the research community devised many alternatives for indoor localization (e.g., beacons, RFID tags, Wi-Fi fingerprinting, and UWB to cite just a few examples). A drawback with most is the requirement for those being located to carry a properly-configured device at all times. An alternative based on computer vision techniques poses significant privacy concerns due to cameras recording building occupants. By contrast, ILoViT research makes novel use of accelerometers already present in some buildings. These sensors were originally intended to monitor structural health or to study structural dynamics. The key idea is that when a person's footstep-generated floor vibrations can be detected and located then it becomes possible to locate persons moving within a building. Vibration propagation in buildings has complexities not encountered by acoustic or radio wave propagation in air; thus, conventional localization algorithms are inadequate. ILoVIT algorithms account for these conditions and have been demonstrated in a public building to provide sub-meter accuracy. Localization provides the foundation for counting and tracking, but providing these additional capabilities confronts new challenges. In particular, how does one determine the correct association of footsteps to the person making them? The ILoViT research created two methods for solving the data association problem. One method only provides occupancy counting but has modest, polynomial time complexity. The other method draws inspiration from prior work in the radar community on the multi-target tracking problem, specifically drawing from the multiple hypothesis tracking strategy. This dissertation research makes new enhancements to this tracking strategy to account for human gait and characteristics of footstep-derived multilateration. The Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University's College of Engineering recognized this dissertation research with the Paul E. Torgersen Graduate Student Research Excellence Award.