Mohammad Rahman, Paramvir Singh Nagpal, Qing Tang and Brendan Rhyno Fourth-year electrical and computer engineering students Mohammad Rahman, Paramvir Singh Nagpal, Qing Tang and Brendan Rhyno show off the indoor positioning system they have developed to aid wayfinding in large buildings.

Project proves the power of positioning

The Centre for Engineering Innovation is a huge building. It would be easy to get lost in it, says Paramvir Singh Nagpal.

Fortunately, he and a team of classmates in electrical and computer engineering have developed a system that will help visitors find their way.

The students originally intended their indoor positioning system to allow administrators and security personnel to track visitors, for example, in a hospital setting where there are clearly defined areas off-limits.

“The idea was to have them register and then take a tracking device with them through the building,” says Nagpal.

However, as the students worked through the challenges, they determined they would be better off to use technologies visitors carry with them: smart phones and other mobile devices that use positioning.

“Everyone has their cell phone on them,” Nagpal says. “We have developed a downloadable app that places them within the three-dimensional space of the building.”

The team—besides Nagpal, members include Mohammad Rahman, Brendan Rhyno and Qing Tang—use hotspot nodes in buildings to triangulate a location within about three metres. By superimposing a floorplan, they can provide users with a personalized, mobile “You are here” map and even give directions to a specified room.

“This ends up being way more global,” Rhyno says. “It could have so many applications.”

The project is the capstone of their UWindsor undergraduate careers, one of 14 that students will present to the public during the department’s open house, Friday, August 9, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Centre for Engineering Innovation’s Industrial Courtyard.

Team members found the eight-month project, which draws on their studies but is not directly dependent on the content of any one course, to be particularly challenging.

“It will be nice to show people the results of the work we have done,” Nagpal says.