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Location tracking whitepaper

Introduction

SimplePack can provide localization with accuracy ranging from 1 kilometer to 2 metres with a battery life span between 2 and 10 years.

At the same time it can monitor temperature in different ways, inclination, drop, light and/or reed sensor switches. It is always critically important to carry out proper use and business case discovery and definition before starting to look for any specific device settings.

Success

All localization services are a combination of business logic and the way the localization is done.

Localization within the Sigfox network can be done using several methods:

  1. Sigfox Atlas only (one uplink message, circa 1km precision)
  2. Standard WiFi (2 uplink messages with 3 MAC addresses circa 5-100m precision)
  3. Sigfox Atlas WiFi (2 uplink messages with 2 MAC addresses circa 20-100m precision)
  4. WiFi SuperLocal (1 uplink message with 5 MAC address pointers and RSSI circa 1m precision)

There are 2 exceptions: Stupid modes not following the general API 6 rules for specific use cases:

  • Stupid mode 1 (only 2 MAC addresses in one message, triggered by time)
  • Stupid mode 2 (sending empty payload and triggered by time for Sigfox Atlas tracking only)

Sigfox Atlas is supported in all devices. You can find a comparison here WiFi modes are supported in devices equipped with the WiFi module.

Comparison of localization methods

Table (valid for SimplePack Plus 3.0, for SimpleIndustr):

Mode type Sigfox Atlas Standard WiFi Sigfox Atlas WiFi WiFi SuperLocal Stupid mode 1 Stupid mode 2
Approx. precision 1km 5-100m 20-100m 1-3m 100m 1km
Battery longevity SimplePack 4.0 10 000 messages n/a n/a n/a n/a 10 000 messages
Battery longevity SimplePack 3.0/4.0 Plus 30 000 messages 10 000 messages 10 000 messages 15 000 messages 15 000 messages 30 000 messages
Battery longevity SimpleIndustry 100 000 messages 33 000 messages 33 000 messages 50 000 messages 50 000 messages 100 000 messages
Event types ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
WiFi module needed ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
IO Frog support ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Sigfox tariff required Atlas Atlas WiFi Atlas WiFi Atlas

Differences between Sigfox Atlas, Standard WiFi, Sigfox Atlas WiFi and WiFi SuperLocal

Each has its advantages and disadvantages:

Sigfox Atlas

Does not send any data through the payload and uses the signal strength of messages received by basestation to calculate the position.

Advantages✔️

  1. Zero energy consumption
  2. Works everywhere where is Sigfox
  3. No WiFi module needed
  4. Precise enough for most logistics use cases
  5. No additional costs for MAC address resolution

Disadvantages❌

  1. Precision depends on density of Sigfox coverage (by how many base station the message was seen)
  2. Location can be skewed by large margin if the object is on a mountainside
  3. Costs additional fee on the Sigfox tariff

Sigfox Atlas WiFi

Uses 2 MAC addresses in 2 messages which Sigfox compares to their own database and you get the location right from the Sigfox callback. Able to distinguish message triggers (various events).

Advantages✔️

  1. Easy to implement
  2. Able to process the location if only one MAC address is available even they smudge the position in order not  precisely position the one MAC address for privacy reasons
  3. Automatic fallback to Sigfox Atlas
  4. In Stupid mode 1 only one message is needed to send the location

Disadvantages❌

  1. You pay for Sigfox WiFi Atlas for all the messages, not only for those where you need to have high resolution
  2. If one MAC address is not relevant or in the database, the position is rather inaccurate
  3. Lower quality database of MAC addresses vs. Google
  4. No ability to send any additional information in the same message
  5. No ability to tag the message as the one containing 2 MAC addresses

Standard WiFi

Uses 3 MAC addresses in 2 messages with the ability to distinguish between various events (triggers).

Advantages✔️

  1. Using 3 MAC addresses is more precise then 2
  2. If one MAC address is not relevant/not in the DB you can still resolve the remaining 2
  3. You pay for resolution only of needed messages
  4. You can preprocess and whitelist MAC addresses you know and pay only for the unknown
  5. You can use higher quality MAC database
  6. Messages are tagged so parser knows what they contain plus type of event is reported

Disadvantages❌

  1. Customer application or IoT platform need to parse the message and call external API (e.g. Google)  for position resolution
  2. Always 2 messages are needed.
  3. If 2 MAC adresses are not relevant/in the dabase Google cannot resolve one MAC address for privacy reasons

WiFi SuperLocal

Saves up to 128 scanned MAC addresses on the device instead of sending the whole MAC for external resolution, sends up to 5 MAC pointers with their respective RSSI. This allows for great precision but is limited to a closed environment (e.g. warehouse).

Advantages✔️

  1. Ability to send 5 MAC addresses plus RSSI in one message
  2. Recording internally newly seen MAC addresses and sending them in uplinks to the IoT platform
  3. Ability to erase stored MAC via downlink
  4. No need to know the location of WiFi beacons, as the localisation uses fingerprinting
  5. WiFI beacons don't be connected to the Internet and can be a combination of public WiFI and private beacons
  6. Can be used even outside warehouse if the circulation of object is limited to a few places

Disadvantages❌

  1. Needs application processing or IoT platform support (IO Frog platform support planned)
  2. Needs training/pressing the button at few locations in the warehouse to train the fingerprinting algorithm
  3. Not usable for long term cross country tracking (it would see and record too many MAC addresses)