The system, being marketed by Cambridge-based Ubisense, is accurate to a few centimetres and can track objects and people. It links positional information to data held on IT systems and can raise alerts. For example, it could link a doctor to the records of a patient he is attending to.
The person or object to be tracked is fitted with a radio/ radar tag called a Ubitag and sensors are installed in the building at a density of about 25 per 1,000 square metres. The sensors communicate with the tag via radio signals and request radar pulses, which are transmitted from the tags at given intervals. The position of the tag is then determined by a number of sensors triangulating their range from it.
Control software then builds up a 3D picture of the location of the tags in the building, and this information can be used to provide alerts or links to other data.
Pete Steggles, chief product officer at Ubisense, said, "By locating tags and associating them with objects, we are giving computer systems a real-time view of where people and things are, with software responding in real time. Complex processes can break down if things go astray and we can track things accurately. We can detect things before they become serious problems."
Steggles gave the example of a hospital environment where patients can be guaranteed to be delivered to surgery with their notes. By tagging both patient and notes, the control software can raise an alert if the two are separated, both on screen and via the Ubitag's integral bleeper.
Another potential application is in high-security environments. In a building where everyone is tagged and CCTV cameras are used, alerts could be raised when repeated movement sensed by the cameras does not correspond with the location of an authorised person wearing a tag.