Indoor Trackers: All You Need to Know About Indoor Location Tracking & Positioning Systems

There have been many great inventions in human history, all of which have contributed immensely to making our lives easier and expanding the scope of what we deem possible. GPS, or the Global Positioning System, has been one of these great inventions.

But as great as GPS is for tracking movement outdoors based on satellite signals, it does have its own shortcomings, one of which is the fact that it is grossly unsuitable for tracking things indoors to a high level of precision.

Thankfully, the human propensity for invention never stops. Today, a major leap forward has been made in terms of indoor precision tracking. The technologies that make this possible are all collectively known as indoor positioning systems (IPS).

What is an indoor positioning system?

Indoor positioning systems have come a long way since their invention. They have opened up a whole new possibility regarding navigation in an indoor environment. But what exactly is an indoor positioning system, and what are the scope of its functions?

Well, first, an indoor positioning system is any network of devices whose main purpose is to locate objects and people in an enclosed space to a high level of precision and accuracy.

Simply put, indoor positioning systems do indoors what global positioning systems do outdoors.

An indoor tracker can be put to use in places such as train stations, underground locations, hospitals, shopping malls, among others. An indoor tracker offers so many benefits that it is almost impossible to overestimate their importance.

We will take a look at some of these benefits in the upcoming section, but first here’s an in-depth look at how an indoor tracker works in the first place.

redlore indoor location tracking

Indoor tracking, how does it work?

IPS works based on the same transmitter – receiver principle that governs most tracking systems. Through indoor localization, an IPS makes use of a variety of tags and beacons to estimate a target object’s location from a group of available data.

The stationary beacons known as anchors are responsible for receiving the signals, while the mobile beacons known as the tags are attached to the object in question, that is the object that we want to know its location.

Once the anchors receive signals from the tags, they forward the data to a server, which is ultimately responsible for calculating the real-time location of the data.

As we’ll see below, there are more than a few types of indoor positioning systems and indoor location-based services. All of these systems have their own varying degrees of accuracy, precision and security.

indoor positioning system

Why indoor positioning system is used

Indoor positioning systems open up an array of possibilities when it comes to indoor location tracking and more. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the areas where this can be applied. But one thing that is common to these applications is that they are all geared towards what is known as indoor localization.

Indoor positioning technologies perform many functions, but their primary objective is indoor localization. Indoor localization is the process whereby a technology is able to accurately collect data to identify the layout of an indoor environment, and locate objects and people in this environment with a very high level of accuracy and precision.

The indoor localization platforms require the use of sensors and various estimation techniques.

How to make an indoor positioning system?

Making your own indoor positioning system can be a quite complex procedure. All indoor tracking devices have a software and a hardware component, and to make your own, you will have to acquire both components.

Furthermore, indoor location tracking devices also have different levels of functionalities, depending on what you want to do with them. For instance, an IPS to be used in a small office will be different from an IPS for large retail stores and warehouses. Additionally, you have to carry out tons of testing to not only ensure that your indoor tracker is functional, but also safe.

Overall, if you need to carry out indoor location positioning, it would make sense to make use of a ready-made indoor location-based services through an indoor positioning device to achieve your goal.

Now, there are lots of indoor positioning solution options in this regard, each with its own level of accuracy and precision. We take a look at some of the most popular options below.

Indoor Tracking Applications

A forklift tracking solution uses technologies like UWB sensors, anchors, gateways to monitor the forklift activity. This system not only improves safety and efficiency within the warehouse but also provides valuable data for maintenance, and operational costs are significantly reduced.
RedLore’s asset tracking technology enhances business productivity and security by using advanced systems WIREPAS and UWB technologies. These tools provide real-time data on asset location and usage, so we can optimize the resource allocation, reduce the downtime of the systems, and facilitate the maintenance of the machines. This obviously leads to cost savings and overall improvement of the company protocols.

Our warehouse employee tracking system improves workplace safety and efficiency by providing real-time feedback and assistance for employees. This technology helps identify employee mistakes, therefore reducing failure rates and improving the overall performance of the whole company.

The equipment tracking devices are going to shake the asset management by providing real-time monitoring of machinery, tools, and inventory. These devices, using technologies like IoT, GPS, and Wireless technologies are mainly focused on improving the workflow efficiency, optimizing resource usage, and helping maintenance of the equipment we own. This results in more productivity and multiple savings in the long term.
RedLore RTLS

Which is the most accurate indoor localization system?

Of the technologies that can be used for indoor location positioning, below are the most noteworthy.

  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth’s technology can also be employed as an indoor positioning tracking system. An indoor tracker that uses Bluetooth relies on what is known as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals to estimate location. It does this by measuring signal strength of BLE beacons, which would have been arranged throughout the environment, to estimate location.
  • Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi systems work by measuring the strength and timing of wireless signals coming from access points (APs). With this data, these devices can determine the real-time location of a device. Wi-Fi systems rely on the fact that the strength of these signals decreases based on the distance. So, the farther away an object is, the lower its signal strength. The system then estimates location based on how long it takes to receive the signals or how long the signals take to travel from the access points to the devices.
  • Infrared: Infrared signals can also be used as an indoor tracker. An indoor tracker that uses infrared signals will essentially determine location by focusing on these signals coming from beacons or sensors. Again, the system will measure the strength coming from these signals as a function of the distance and timing. This way it can get a sense of where the signals are coming from, and consequently, where the object/person is. The precision of this method is usually not the best around.
  • UWB: Of all the available indoor trackers around, ultra-wideband uwb is considered among the very best. UWB-based devices are able to transmit data using a wide range of frequencies in the radio spectrum. Now, because of its accurate measurement of time of flight between UWB tags and UWB sensor’s, an indoor tracker that makes use of ultra-wideband can estimate location to a very precise and very accurate degree. One of the shortcomings of UWB, though, is that it is best only for relatively short distances and cannot work over very long distances.

Which of these techniques has been used for indoor location tracking?

To an extent, all of these techniques have been used for indoor location tracking. Of course, the best option for you will depend on the scope of your project and what you’re trying to achieve.

This is because all of them have their own advantages and shortcomings. Wifi, for instance, is great because it offers high accuracy down to the meter, and can work in a dense environment. It is also widely available with lots of infrastructure/access points around.

Bluetooth based tracking is great if you’re looking for a technique that doesn’t consume a lot of power and can work in low coverage areas without wifi infrastructure. Its accuracy is also impressive, just like wifi. You should have in mind, though, that Bluetooth can be interrupted by changes in environment.

As mentioned above, ultra wideband is without a doubt the most accurate and precise. As an indoor tracker, it can provide accurate location data down to the centimeter.Other available options include inertial measurement units, visual-based tracking by cameras and computer algorithms,radio frequency identification (RFID), and ultrasonic-based tracking.

Why does GPS stop tracking indoor?

You can try to use GPS indoor, but don’t expect to get any worthwhile results. GPS indoor accuracy isn’t worthwhile because GPS relies on satellites orbiting the earth to transmit signals at a high frequency. The problem is, these signals are greatly reduced in strength as they pass through solid objects, making them fragile indoors. This is why the RTLS Technologies were designed to track indoor scenarios.

For this reason, an indoor GPS tracker will always yield inaccurate data, especially if the obstruction is significant. Furthermore, we usually don’t expect accurate results from an indoor GPS tracker because their signals are affected by what is known as multipath interference. This occurs when a signal is reflected off a wall or other solid objects before reaching the intended device.

Another issue with any indoor GPS system is that they can never initiate a clear view of the sky, because of roofs and other building coverings. Of course, for an indoor GPS system to even have a high GPS indoor accuracy, there must be a clear view to the sky, which most buildings simply don’t have.

What industries can benefit most from indoor tracking?

Below are some of the most popular industries where you’ll find indoor tracking and positioning systems being applied.

  • Retail Industries: Retail stores can get really large, and in such a large facility, it is always important everything including objects and personnel are well tracked. For this reason, indoor tracking is very popular in this industry. Here it enjoys other applications as well such as optimization and enhancing experience for both customers and employees.

  • Healthcare Industry: The Healthcare industry is another industry wherein indoor positioning technologies find a lot of applications. This is not necessarily because of the size of the buildings like it is in the retail industry, but because of the need for a high level of accuracy and precision. Here, it enjoys application in enhancing patient care and improving operational efficiency.

  • Manufacturing & Logistics: Given the need for smooth running of day-to-day operation, manufacturing and logistics is one of the industries wherein tracking is important. And while customers can simply use GPS to track their orders, companies who want to track activities in the warehouses and production facilities have to rely on indoor trackers to do so.

  • Education: Indoor tracking devices can find a host of intelligent applications in the world of education. Not only can it enhance student experience by helping them locate resources better, it also helps educators and other workers by increasing the efficiency of day-to-day operations.

  • Transportation: The transportation industry is an industry whose major and, really, only function is movement. With the amount of mobility going on, it is important to be able to keep track of objects and people to a higher level of accuracy.
    And this is one of the reasons why indoor location trackers play a huge role in the transportation industry. Below we will see exactly how this is applied.

Industry Applications for Indoor Tracking

Having examined which industries need real-time indoor positioning and derived systems the most, it is worth highlighting how exactly this technology can be used in these Industries. Below is a breakdown of some use cases scenarios for interior positioning systems in a handful of industries.
indoor localization for retail

Retail Industries

The following are some use cases for indoor positioning in the retail industry:

  • Where Indoor GPS tracking fails, IPS can be used in retail to provide directions for customers who need to locate certain items.
  • It can also be used to provide customers with personalized offers and recommendations.
  • Indoor tracking makes it possible for owners to optimize their store layout by analyzing customer traffic patterns to know where they spend the most time and where they need to be directed.
gps indoor for healthcare

Healthcare Industry

The following are some use cases for indoor location trackers in the healthcare industry:

  • In healthcare, indoor positioning systems help track patient movement and vitals.
  • It can also be used to ensure timely delivery of patient treatment and medications.
  • Indoor tracking also makes it possible to track equipment, supplies and optimize workflow for a higher efficiency.
indoor gps system for manufacturing

Manufacturing & Logistics

The following are some use cases for BLE indoor tracking in the manufacturing & logistics industry:

  • In manufacturing, indoor positioning systems help track inventory and monitor movement of goods and materials.
  • It can also be used to improve worker safety and security.
tracking system for education


The following are some use cases for indoor location systems in the education industry:

  • Students can find it easier to navigate campuses using indoor tracking systems.
  • Inside buildings like libraries, students can use these systems to better locate valuable resources like books and other materials.
  • It also enhances security and can be used to monitor student traffic patterns.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, indoor positioning systems can work without the internet. This is because most indoor trackers make use of bluetooth and ultra-wideband that only require radio frequency signals and not internet connection. But of course, systems that make use of Wi-Fi will require an internet connection before they can function.
Well, the answer to this is that it’s subjective. The amount you’ll end up spending on your internal positioning systems depend on a few factors. These include the exact technology you choose to go with, the level of accuracy and precision that you want, the complexity of the implementation, and, of course, the total size of the environment you want to cover.
Yes, in fact, one of the places where indoor positioning systems find the most application is in harsh environments such as factories and warehouses. To ensure optimal functionality, it is advisable to go with strong technologies such as ultra wideband and RFID which are often more suitable for these conditions.