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5 Technologies Making RTLS a Reality

  • Akansha Sharma
  • Oct 16, 2023
  • RFID
5 Technologies Making RTLS a Reality

In our connected world, tracking and locating assets and individuals with real-time location has become essential. The real-time location system (RTLS) is a requirement of the modern world and can provide us with security, real-time updates, and an efficient tracking system. This innovative technology provides real-time tracking, revolutionizing various sectors like retail, healthcare, logistics, and manufacturers.

Various businesses often struggle with inventory visibility as well as order fulfillment and RTLS provides real-time tracking of orders as the consignments move through the supply chains. With changing customer expectations, RTLS has the potential to streamline order tracking for e-commerce businesses, enhancing customer experience as well as business profits. 

What is RTLS? 

RTLS (Real Time Location System) can accurately determine the location of a person or item in real time. An essential aspect of RTLS is the tracking of items, and the data generated from this process can be used in various ways depending on the application. 

5 Technologies Making RTLS a Reality

RTLS is a sure way to achieve indoor positioning and ensure tracking of objects and individuals in real-time. Followings are the 5 technologies that are making Real time location services a reality and affordable for many businesses.

1. Infrared RTLS

2. Wi-Fi RTLS

3. UWB RTLS

4. Passive RFID 

5. Active Bluetooth-based RTLS 

1. Infrared RTLS

An infrared RTLS works similarly to a TV remote. It is a combination of two components: an infrared reader and a tag placed on an object. An infrared tag placed on an asset flashes a unique infrared ID at a fixed interval, which is captured by an infrared reader. The reader and tag don't have to be perfectly aligned with each other, and the path is invisible to human eyes. It transmits the signal lights, so it consumes the battery. Likewise, it is best suited for capital asset tracking but not for personnel tracking systems.

 It is used in warehouse management, indoor navigation, logistic management, manufacturing process control, and retail analytics. Let's take an example of indoor navigation. In spaces like shopping malls, airports, and museums, we require accurate locations for our desired location. 

 2. Wi-Fi RTLS

This RTLS technology uses tags that transmit Wi-Fi signals to multiple access points through the infrastructure. By using various time-of-arrival methods, the receiver can locate the tags. It uses the time-of-flight measure related to a wide area bandwidth so that the receiver can find the tag location without any lag or delay. 

Signals transmitted through a smart device (laptop, smartphone, or tablet) can be monitored. The overall range of the Wi-Fi system is up to 150 meters, and it is accurate within a range of 15 meters. 

It can reduce time-consuming processes by optimizing our daily tasks like managing vehicles, asset tracking, and tracking inventory. For example, Wi-Fi RTLS collects data on the behaviors of customers and stores traffic (busy days). This information is used to optimize store layout and improve the overall shopping experience for both parties. 

3. UWB RTLS

UWB (Ultrawide Band) one of the best technologies in RTLS for accurate location tracking. UWB tags are in small sizes and use less power. These tags transmit a signal at several intervals to maintain the efficiency of real-time operation.

It can easily serve multiple indoor locations for tracking use cases. UWB RTLS can easily handle interference between communications and can maintain higher accuracy at the same time. It has a range of 150 meters, and it is more accurate within 30 cm. It has a rechargeable battery support system. 

It can help with precise location tracking solutions, movement tracking like industrial asset tracking, and indoor tracking and navigation. For example, industrial asset tracking in manufacturing plants helps monitor the movement of machinery items, tools, and raw materials with high accuracy.

4. Passive RFID

Passive RFID is a tag-based location tracking system that is used in libraries or stores. A passive tag is placed on the object, and then the system can find the object attached to the tag. 

A reader transmits a radio signal, which is picked up by a tagged receiver in the form of radio waves. The antenna in the tag will open with the flow of electrical energy in the circuit. It can handle the interference because it operates over a very short distance and doesn't require any battery support. It is commonly used in precise inventory management. RFID tags can work in a range of 1m and are accurate to 10 cm. 

It helps in monitoring the stock level of inventory, preventing theft, and maintaining the refilling process of stocks. For example, hospital asset tracking helps track expensive medical equipment, medical staff monitoring, etc.

5. Active Bluetooth-based RTLS

Active Bluetooth-based RTLS technology uses sensors that are operated on a battery; it has access points present all over the place, and points are directly connected to sensors.

This works on BLE (Bluetooth low energy), which makes them cost-effective as well as provides the best results in tracking solutions. It has a good battery life of 3 to 5 years. It operates in the range of 75 meters and performs accurately within 8 meters. 

It is commonly used in any indoor operation that doesn't require an extremely precise location. For example, retailers can use it when a customer enters their store; the system can send them personalized promotions and information based on their location within the store.

To conclude, the intention is to monitor the location; the most suitable technology is dependent upon the business requirements of an organization, budget, and flexibility of the technology. RTLS architecture is required to understand the client's requirements very thoroughly. To make it more accurate and precise for every location.

 Frequently Asked Questions

 Q1) Why do we need asset tracking?

 Asset tracking is important because it will help companies track their valuable property, even if the items are moving from one place to another. It will help enhance the performance of business operations, reduce the chances of losses, and improve security.

 Q2: What are the components of RTLS?

Most of the RTLS technology has similar components like anchors, tags, and location engines.

1. RTLS Anchor: It will detect the digital signals that are coming from tags to determine the real-time location; it will timestamp the information, which is then shared with location engines. Then, the location engine will calculate the tag's position.

2. RTLS Tags: A tag can send the data to the anchor, which then sends the data to the location engine. The location engine will determine the location of the tag.

3. Location Engine: It processes receiving location information and data from hardware. The location engine turns this information into location data insights.

Q3) Where and how do we use RTLS?

 In some industries, assets are generally used for tracking solutions, and here are some common uses.

1. Manufacturing: understanding the workflow of assembly line logistics and tracking machines

2. Logistics and transportation: Decrease the chances of errors in asset movement by optimizing storage and its storing process.

3. Law Enforcement: Track officers' valuable equipment, prevent threats, and ensure safety.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.


  • Created on Oct 16, 2023
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