Polaris CEO: Location information to include height component in 2013 (with related video)
Location technology that can let first responders know what floor a mobile wireless caller is on in a multistory building should be available within 18 months, according to Polaris Wireless CEO Manlio Allegra.
Polaris has developed a new solution that that leverages distributed antenna systems (DAS) to provides X/Y coordinates more accurately from phones located indoor. That product should be available at the end of the second quarter or at the beginning of the third quarter, Allegra said.
With a better solution to determine X/Y location coordinates indoors, the company's engineers will focus on developing a system to provide the altitude of a caller — the Z coordinate, Allegra said.
"You need to be 100% sure on the X/Y first. Otherwise, if you give a Z coordinate, you could send people to the wrong building," he said.
In terms of developing a Z-coordinate solution, Polaris already is able to determine the Z coordinate of a caller within five floors in a high-rise structure, such as a large office building or apartment complex. The company's plan is to improve the algorithms and location-estimation technology to provide a Z coordinate that is accurate within one or two floors before offering a product, Allegra said.
While Polaris is confident it can accomplish this goal soon in a good DAS environment, the company goal is to develop a Z-coordinate solution that does not require DAS, Wi-Fi or any other supplemental network technology — an approach that some competitors are taking, he said.
"We just assume that the carrier wants to locate a caller, and the caller is not on Wi-Fi network," Allegra said. "When you dial 911, you can have any kind of phone. You can have a feature phone without Wi-Fi. Or, if you have a smartphone, you may not have the Wi-Fi on.
"If we're able to crack that problem, that means we'll be able to locate all phones — smart and dumb — every time and everywhere … I believe that, within the next 18 months, I'm very confident that we'll go down to one or two floors [of Z-coordinate accuracy]."