'Always-on' position tracking smart sensor for wearables

November 07, 2018 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Claiming to be the industry’s first position tracking smart sensor that utilizes integrated inertial sensors to improve GPS location tracking, the BHI160BP from Bosch Sensortec reduces system power consumption by up to 80 percent and delivers seamless and more reliable localization than GPS-only systems.

When used with a GPS or GNSS module, the BHI160BP enables users to take full advantage of pedestrian position tracking with up to 80 percent saving in system power consumption compared with a typical GNSS-only system, without compromising on accuracy. Users benefit from a greatly extended battery life and longer charging intervals for wearable applications such as smartwatches and fitness trackers and other mobile devices such as smartphones or hearables. This new position tracking approach is set to enable a new class of compact devices with even smaller batteries.

The sensor tracks a person’s position by intelligently applying an inertial sensor based algorithm for Pedestrian Dead Reckoning (PDR). To maintain accuracy, it calculates the user’s relative location based on data collected from the inertial sensors and then re-calibrates itself every few minutes to obtain the absolute position provided by the GNSS/GPS module. This means that the GNSS/GPS module can be kept in sleep mode for most of the time, which drastically reduces a device's power consumption and extends its operating time.

"Pedestrian position tracking is a crucial application for mobile applications; unfortunately, GPS modules can rapidly drain a device’s battery capacity – especially when the battery is as small as in wearable devices," says Dr. Stefan Finkbeiner, CEO of Bosch Sensortec.

The position tracking capability provided by the BHI160BP also means that a device can maintain solid accuracy even when the GNSS signal is blocked or weak, e.g., near tall buildings or indoors. This ensures accurate pedestrian navigation at all times, even in shielded indoor areas such as subways.


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