Location has fast become a must-have element for most connected solutions in order to wring as much value from the technology as possible. Consumers expect that their connected devices will be able to detect where they are, regardless of if they are inside, underground, in a car, a city, or anywhere else. Users also presume their devices will be able to customize their experience - time zone, weather, etc. - based on their location, without additional work. Gone are the days of paper maps, and the current landscape conditions users to expect their devices to go above and beyond. Modern IoT device manufacturers need to include location technology in their product plans to satisfy and delight their customers.
As someone building or modifying a device that can connect to the internet, it’s important to explicitly consider how you are going to determine the best location technology for this device. It is not as simple as adding GPS () and as any seasoned location service provider will tell you, many different device configurations and use cases exist, each with their own challenges.
While considering how best to integrate location into your device, think through the following questions, and how they will impact production. Being prepared to answer these questions will help the process of working with a location provider go smoothly and ensure you achieve the right location requirements for your specific device and use case.
To define your requirements you should answer the following questions:
1. How frequently do you need location?
Will you need to know the location of the device every minute, every day, once an hour, only when it is moving or when some event occurs? Remember, each location determination may incur power costs, network costs and service costs.
2. Does the device itself need to know its location?
Will there be an interface on the device that allows location data to be accessed or is the location only useful to a centralized service? The answer to this may make certain technologies more appealing than others.
3. How much power can you afford to use when acquiring location?
Different positioning technologies have different power profiles. You need to be aware of this fact as it could impact your battery requirements or the frequency with which you can acquire location.
4. How accurate does the location need to be?
Not all use cases demand pinpoint precise location. In fact, some use cases require different levels of precision at different times. Do you need less than 10-meter accuracy or is 500-meter accuracy good enough? Understanding the required accuracy will help determine which technologies need to be incorporated into your IoT device.
5. What communication method is going to be used?
An IoT device by definition has connectivity. Depending on the connectivity provided, a location capability may be available with the existing hardware. For example, devices connected with the cellular network can take advantage of low accuracy cell base location techniques, while Wi-Fi enable devices can take advantage of high accuracy Wi-Fi location.
The value of location in connected devices cannot be overstated, and finding the best solution for your device is essential to long term success. With technology developments moving at lightning speed, the process for incorporating location should be swift and well-defined. Using these tips, developers are better armed to make more informed decisions, resulting in time-savings and an end result that represents all the amazing innovation available today.
Once you’ve figured out your necessary requirements for location, it’s time to find a provider.