Posted by Nick
Knellinger

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It is estimated that there will be over 75 billion connected devices worldwide by 2025. Location has quickly become a critical component for IoT devices and connected solutions as businesses seek to add value from the technology and meet consumer and partner expectations. 
 
As the inventor of the modern-day standard for location, Skyhook provides software for millions of connected devices around the world. With a database of more than 5 billion Wi-Fi access points, over 200 million cellular towers, and more than 650 patents, Skyhook leverages the largest independent location network in the world with proprietary software to position millions of connected devices.
 
Skyhook’s Precision Location is enabled by Hybrid Positioning Technology, which uses a proprietary algorithm to blend Wi-Fi, GPS, and Cellular signals to provide accurate location in all environments, while minimizing battery use, to help prolong device life.
 
Precision Location works across a wide range of use cases and IoT devices, including smartphones, feature phones, wearable devices, consumer asset trackers, B2B asset trackers, POS devices and more. Regardless of the use case, Skyhook offers flexible integration options to provide location on even the smallest and most resource-constrained devices. Skyhook is also great as a drop-in location provider for devices using non-traditional operating systems, such as KaiOS, and customized versions of the Android Operating System. 
 
Our Flexible Integration Options include:
 
SDK Integration
Skyhook’s SDKs provide one of our most common, off-the-shelf, integration methods. Skyhook has developed SDKs for the most commonly used operating systems including Android, several Linux variations, Windows, MacOS and Raspberry Pi. The Precision Location SDK provides all the tools and documentation needed to perform highly-accurate location on devices. It provides a full location solution on the leading edge of hybrid positioning technology. The location SDK utilizes all of the technological enhancements that Skyhook has developed and are common to native mobile operating systems including location smoothing, fast time-to-fix, MAC address collapsing, on-device hybrid, and power optimizations such as stationary detection and offline location.
 
Use Cases
Skyhook’s SDKs can be implemented in a number of devices or applications. One of the more common applications is for enterprise device management, that allows customers to accurately and quickly locate lost or stolen devices. Through SDK integration with Linux, Windows, Mac OS and custom variants, the SDK is bundled into a software package to act as the single source location provider for Wi-Fi positioning as well as IP positioning fallback. Some additional features include time zone validation, designate closest backup location and enabling and disabling services within certain locations based on corporate policies.
 
Another interesting use case for SDK integration is point of sale terminals. Through integrations of both Android and Linux libraries, Skyhook provides location to portable registers to track asset distribution globally and effectively automate UI and terminal service features. The SDK enables additional benefits like setting the default language, selecting the correct local payment service/fulfillment partner, and setting the correct time zone. It also provides IP location fallback when no Wi-Fi is available.
 
Additional location SDK use cases:
  • Offender Tracking
  • Wearable Cameras
  • Connected Appliances
  • Connected Car
  • Gaming Devices 
 
Lite Client
Skyhook’s Lite Client is an open-source code base that allows customers to integrate a simple software package on the device in order to scan for available signals. Once collected by the device, customers with an API key can connect to Skyhook servers in order to receive location services. Lite Client is location awareness in a slightly lighter weight package. It's written in C++ and deployed as a dynamic library, with a C API exposed to applications.
 
Most importantly, the Lite Client provides a software architecture that can easily be ported to new platforms and/or devices for remote location resolution. 
 
Use Case
As an example, hospitals leverage Skyhook’s Lite Client to locate hospital equipment and devices. This allows staff to automate a previously manual process to share resources across departments and provide maintenance, saving time and money in the process. This specific implementation leveraged Skyhook’s Lite Client for integration, a Linux variant with SPI layer changes for two different device types. Skyhook also provided a small piece of custom code to detect and validate proximity to specific access points found within the cleaning facilities.
 
Read documentation on the Lite Client here
 
Embedded Client 
Skyhook’s Embedded Client (EC) is the most compact library for enabling location services. Also open source, it utilizes a binary protocol for lightweight data transmission, as well as AES encryption. Location response routing to a 3rd party server, tool, or visualization platform can be easily configured for both monitoring and storage purposes. This package is intentionally much more raw in terms of interfaces exposed to partners and customers, and intended as a toolkit for embedded engineering teams. EC is designed for use on devices such as MPERs, asset tags, child tracking devices, and IoT modules that have no operating system, a proprietary or embedded real-time operating system.
 
Use Cases
In addition to using Cell and GNSS signals, offender tracking partners have implemented EC to improve location accuracy and yield when devices are indoors to accurately monitor and locate offenders. These tracking devices are used to keep offenders in or out of certain zones during probationary periods and trigger alert messages with a call to action for supervisory personnel. They are also used for curfew monitoring and crime scene correlation. Location accuracy and yield are critical to the performance of these devices. 
 
In addition, several low power LTE-M and NB-IoT based asset tracking devices are leveraging Skyhook’s Embedded Client for network-based positioning using both cellular and Wi-Fi signals. Many of these integrations also have optimized channel scanning, based on the geography, and access point selection to further reduce power consumption. Client-side caching features are used to understand when a device is stationary and limits unnecessary network traffic. In most cases, location results are forwarded in real-time to a server for asset location visualization or monitoring. 
 
Additional use cases:
  • Asset Tracking & Supply Chain
  • Mobile Personal Emergency Response (MPERs) Devices
  • Fitness Trackers & Wearables
  • Child Tracking
  • Animal Tracking
  • Luggage trackers
 
Read documentation on the Embedded Client here
 
RESTful Cloud API
Skyhook’s RESTful Cloud location API is a great location solution for connected devices that communicate with the network through either proprietary or network defined protocols, and leverage server-to-server communication to resolve location based on observed network signals. The interface returns a location and accuracy error estimate based on information about cell towers, GPS locations and Wi-Fi access points that the device or client can detect, which are packaged into individual location requests. Communication is done over HTTPS, with the request and response formatted in JSON or XML. 
 
Use Cases
Skyhook’s API can be easily integrated to fit nearly any IoT device or application. One example is cold chain sensors, which monitor temperature and humidity while products are in the supply chain. The API adds the benefit of location, which ensures deliveries meet specifications for health codes while being tracked. Skyhook has cold chain deployments that leverage full hybrid positioning as well as cell-only applications where network-based location is sufficient. Skyhook can also tweak multi-cell positioning algorithms to account for the network type and neighbor cell visibility available through particular cellular modems. Knowing exactly where shipments are located is a critical aspect of the supply chain and leads to fewer delays which results in less spoiled food or goods. This in return saves businesses a lot of money. 
 
API Limitations
Certain SDK or Embedded Client features such as smoothing between location sources, fast time-to-fix, MAC address deduplication, power optimization, and offline location are not available with the cloud API. In addition, application-specific or device-specific code must be created to enable the collection of Wi-Fi and cellular network scans.
 
Read documentation on Skyhook's location API here
 
Additional use cases:
  • Connected Appliances
  • Fleet Monitoring & Asset Tracking
  • Smart City 
  • LPWAN Network Integrations 
  • IoT & Commercial Platform Integrations
 
Android Location Provider
Skyhook is often used as a drop-in replacement for location on devices running customized versions of the Android Operating System. Location requests are resolved through standard Android Network Location Provider and Fused Location Provider interfaces, allowing for compatibility on devices without Google Mobile Services or Google Play Services.
 
Use Cases
Our Android Location Provider can be used for any device using a stock version of the Android Operating System, including smartphones, smart feature phones, payment terminals and wearable devices. Smart feature phones are becoming increasingly popular in emerging markets throughout the world and device manufacturers choose Skyhook to enable location-based features on these devices.
 
Wearables such as child tracking devices or fitness trackers also utilize this integration method on the device side to enable features such as time-based alerts, on-demand location updates, SOS buttons, and geofences that trigger alerts when the child is detected outside a specific zone. 
 
Other features include: 
  • Tiling (Geospatial caching of access point information)
  • Stationary Detection to Reduce Power Consumption
  • Cache Matching to Minimize Network Scanning
  • Standard Android Location API Calls
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Additional use cases:
  • Fitness Trackers & Wearables
  • Pet Trackers
 
Conclusion
Skyhook offers location solutions for IoT devices with flexible integration options that provide market-leading accuracy around the world. As the world’s largest independent location provider, Skyhook can customize a location solution for any use case and will provide personalized service to ensure any unique needs are met, on even the smallest and most hardware-constrained devices.
 
If you have a device that can benefit from location services, get in touch with a location expert to see what Skyhook can do for you.
 
To learn more about the flexible integration options, download the full integration guide below:
 
Download the full integration guide

Topics: Internet of Things Iot location

   

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