The project is to locate and track a moving object in a confined area e.g. a patient in a
nursing home or a forklift in a factory, or to track computers or other assets. Various
technologies under consideration include a cell based tracking system using radio
frequency identification (RFID), asset tracking system using detectors, micropower
impulse radar tracking system using electromagnetic pulses, infrared beacon tracking
system, and radio triangulation and telemetry tracking system. The results of this project
could have many applications in domestic and commercial products.
Definition of Terms
Triangulation: Measuring distance using the travel time of radio signals propagating
within a combination of two or more receivers (satellites) and a transmitter
Telemetry: The transference of data over a wireless channel
RFID: Radio frequency identification
LOS: Line of sight
LED: Light emitting diode
LCD: Liquid crystal display
MIR: Micropower impulse radar
The project involves developing a local area tracking and monitoring system. The system
is to be designed for one of three possible applications.
• To track forklifts and/or other mobile machinery in a large industrial complex, such
as a warehouse. This application would require on-demand tracking of the exact
location of the entity. A central computer would be used to display location
• To track residents of a nursing home, in order to ensure that they stay on the
premises. This application would require continuous tracking to determine perimeter
violation, along with the location of that perimeter violation. A central computer
would be used to display location information
• To deter computer or equipment theft. A perimeter violation system would be
implemented to trigger alarms should any protected piece of equipment break the
perimeter. Periodic location resolution is sufficient for this application.
In order to implement a system for one of these applications, several technologies are
being researched. These technologies are outlined below.
• Radio triangulation and telemetry. This technology would require two or more
receiving antennas, a transmitter located on the tracked object, extremely accurate
time synchronization equipment, and a central computer (PC). The central computer
would be used to display location information, as needed. The software for this
system would be programmed in C++ or Visual Basic.
Figure 1 - Diagram of triangulation
• Micropower impulse radar. This technology would require the radar device and a
central computer (PC). The central computer would be required to do several tasks
such as filtering, imaging, and identifying tracked objects. Thus, the central computer
would need to be quite fast. The software for this system would be programmed in
Matlab and C++/Visual Basic.
Figure 2 - A typical micropower radar
• Infrared beacon. This technology would require an infrared source (such as an LED),
to be carried by each tracked object, two rotating infrared receivers, and a central
computer (PC). The central computer would used for location resolution and display.
The software for this system would be programmed in Visual Basic.
Figure 3 - Example of infrared detection
• Frequency detection unit. This technology would require a transmitter on each
tracked object, and strategically placed receivers. This system would not be able to
discriminate between objects. The output would simply be whether or not a signal is
• Radio frequency identification. This technology would require radio frequency
transponders on each tracked object, radio frequency reading units to be placed
strategically throughout the tracking area, and a central computer. The central
computer would be used to display location information, and could be either a PC or
a microcontroller and LCD display. The software would be written in C or
Figure 4 - RFID Technologies
To discuss operating environment, each application must be examined separately.
• For the forklift application, the technology would be operating in an industrial setting.
The system should then be able to function in a fairly dirty environment, as dust and
other contaminants may be present. The system should also be resistant to any
electrical interference caused by operating machinery, within reason. Some
resistance to both high and low temperatures would be needed, with an operating
range approximately between 0-110 degrees Fahrenheit.
• For the human tracking system, the technology would be operating indoors and
outdoors. The system should not be affected by electronic equipment commonly
found in offices. Temperature range of operation is expected to be approximately
between 0-110 degrees Fahrenheit.
• For the computer security application, the technology would operate in an office or
lab setting. The system should be adequately shielded from electronic emissions
from such sources as computer components and power supplies. Temperature range
of operation is expected to be approximately between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
To discuss intended user and uses, each application must be examined separately.
Currently, the team is considering three specific applications. However, this technology
could be employed for a variety of other applications.
• The forklift application is intended for use by plant managers or manufacturing
engineers. It is to be used to track the locations of mobile equipment uniquely, so that
a particular piece of equipment can be found on demand.
• For the human tracking system, the intended user would be an administrator of a
nursing home or medical care facility. The system would be used to detect entry to or
exit from certain areas to protect patients or residents. An example would be to detect
the exit of an Alzheimer’s patient from the facility, in order to protect them from
• The computer security system is intended to be used by IT or equipment managers.
The system would be used for security purposes to detect the removal of computers
or other valuable equipment from the facility.
Assumptions will be listed by application.
• Technology will not operate in a hazardous environment (IR sensitivity to
dust and contaminants).
Human Tracking Application
• The tracked person shall not remove a transmitter or transponder, or subject
them to adverse conditions.
Computer Security Application
• Tracked materials shall only be removed from the building via doors
(perimeter monitoring only).
Limitations shall be listed by technology.
• All transmitted signals must be low power to reduce interference.
Micropower Impulse Radar
• Unique identification of two or more of the same type of entity, such as two
identical forklifts, is not possible with this technology.
• Multiple radar sites can only be implemented if the central computer is of
sufficient speed to handle the extra load, due to cost considerations.
• Line of sight is necessary for this technology to determine position.
• Continuous tracking of entities is not possible.
• Beacons and receivers must be kept clean.
Frequency Detection Unit
• Unique identification of tracked objects is not possible.
• Transmitters must not be blocked or enclosed in radio frequency dampening
Radio Frequency Identification
• Continuous tracking is impossible due to cost considerations.
• Transponders must not be blocked or enclosed in radio frequency dampening
Design objectives and functional requirements
This project will require two main things: something to monitor and some way to
monitor it. In designing this system, the team has considered three main applications and
several technologies to use in implementing the system.
The first application considered is asset monitoring and protection. An example of such
an application would be to track computers and peripherals making sure that they did not
violate an arbitrary perimeter, thus ensuring they would not be stolen. This system would
not need to distinguish between different components. To implement this system, many
objectives must be met.
The design must include
1. A frequency detection unit that could detect radio signals from tags attached to
2. A tag attached to each asset that sends out radiation to be picked up by the
• The detectors would have to be placed at all possible exits from the room to
ensure maximum security. Leaving out such things as windows would greatly
undermine the value of the system.
• The detectors would need to set off an alarm when the perimeter is breached by
• The detectors would work by reading a tag attached to each item being tracked.
The detectors would need a source of power and would need to be relatively small
so as to fit in areas such as doorways and windows.
• The tags would be very small and passive in nature. They would be very small
and inconspicuous and could easily fit inside computers without affecting the
operation of the tags or the computers.
• The tags would all be identical thus making it impossible to distinguish between
The second application would be to track objects such as forklifts in a warehouse setting.
This system must be able to distinguish between each individual vehicle wishing to be
tracked. This system would involve several requirements.
The design must include
1. An active beacon device attached to each vehicle wishing to be tracked.
2. Multiple detectors located strategically throughout the warehouse depending on
warehouse dimensions to allow for triangulation throughout the warehouse or
3. A central computer that receives signals from all the detectors to compute and
display the location of all vehicles.
• The beacon would need to be powered and would need to have a sufficient range
for the signals to propagate to the detectors, through walls if need be.
• The beacon would need to send out a unique identification code at short intervals
that would be detectable by multiple detectors.
• The detectors would need to be able to process multiple signals at once coming
from all vehicles.
• The detectors would need to be networked in some way to allow for the
• The detectors would need a very short latency to allow for fast calculations.
• The detectors would need a very accurate timing mechanism to heighten the
precision of the system.
• The computer would need to be know the location of all the detectors.
• The computer would need to be able to quickly process all incoming data.
• The computer would need to display location information in a meaningful way.
The third application would be to track people inside a confined area. Some uses include
tracking patients inside a nursing home to make sure they don’t try to leave, and tracking
prisoners inside a prison to make sure that they are always in an area that they are
authorized to be in. The best way to implement such a system would be to detect the
transition between rooms using a radio frequency identification system. Such a system
would have several requirements.
The design must include
1. A small identification tag would need to be worn by all persons being tracked.
2. Detectors would need to be placed at every transition point, most likely doorways,
3. A central computer would be needed to process all transactions.
• The tag would need to be encoded with unique identifiers in order to distinguish
between all persons.
• The tag would need to have a sufficient range (5-10 feet) for the signal to reach
• The tags would be powered by a signal from the detectors and thus would only
work in near proximity to the detectors.
• The detectors must constantly send short bursts of power at a suitable frequency
to charge the tags.
• The detectors must be able to read and identify the identification code sent back
by the tags.
• The detectors must be networked to some central computer informing it of which
tags have crossed what point.
• The computer must be able to accept signals from all detectors.
• The computer must be able to display location information upon demand.
• The computer must be able to set off an alarm in case of perimeter breach.
Due to unavailability of a sponsor, the team is facing a financial constraint. The team is
uncertain about using off-the shelf components that has affected the level of design of the
project. To counter this limitation, the team is looking for an appropriate sponsor.
The area of coverage varies depending upon the technology employed for the project.
Infrared detection requires a line of sight (LOS) operation. This would require multiple
sensors in a small area depending upon the beamwidth of the radiation. Asset tracking
system is only limited to the boundaries of the covered area. Similarly, micropower
impulse radar has an ability to penetrate but the penetration power decreases as the
materials electrical conductivity increases.
Precision of Location
Even the sophisticated global positioning systems (GPS) have a location accuracy of 5-10
meters. This is enormous for tracking an object within a building. For rotating Infrared
beacons, the intersection of the two arcs guided over the target by the radiations can
reveal the actual position. However, this technique is limited by the funds as well as
requires extraordinary cleaning and prevention from dust that can ruin the operation of
One of the major considerations for the team members is the target’s continuous
possession of a source (IR diode, RF transponder etc.) that makes it visible to the sensor.
This might be inappropriate in some of the project’s applications where the target cannot
wear a source continuously (monitoring the movements of the patients in a hospital).
Source (target) discrimination
Another constraint for the team members is to make the sensors differentiate between the
sources. When the sensor (IR detector, EM radiations of MIR) has multiple targets within
its range, it should be able to distinguish between those.
Temperature range of the system is expected to be 0-110 degrees Fahrenheit. Extreme
temperatures are expected to affect the performance of the system.
The team members are restricted by the programming language that is known by
members of the team. The team has not yet decided about the language to be used.
The system should be adequately shielded from the electronic emission and fields of
other computers and power supplies. These interfering electromagnetic signals are
harmful for the performance of the system especially for MIR and computer security
• The project should be completed within the expected budget.
• The project should be completed within the allocated time.
Selection of the application and technology
• The team is currently researching on several technologies from which one will be
chosen for the final project.
• The project should be able to perform up to the desired limit. It should come up to
the required specifications and track the target as expected.
• All the formal deliverables (reports etc.) should be deposited on the scheduled
Presentation of a working prototype
• The team should be able to present a working project at the end of two semesters.
End Product Description
The end product shall have a variety of applications in commercial areas including
monitoring the movements of machinery in a factory setting, tracking patients in a
nursing home, or keeping computers secured in any building. This product will be
designed to be less expensive and more functional than the alternatives.
Approaches and Design
Technical approaches and design
There are three kinds of technical approaches to be chosen.
Cell-based tracking system
This system can be designed by using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.
It uses two kinds of frequency to vary detect range from 1-3 meters for low frequency
(>500KHz) to 20+ meters for high frequency (>10MHz). It would require three main
parts: transponders, reading units, and transmit/receive antennas. Transponders are
located on each tracked object. When the object arrives within a reading unit range, the
reading unit reads its ID, and relays its information to the central computer to identify and
make the decision.
Asset tracking system using detectors
This system could be used for simple and advantage applications. It has passive modules,
simple detectors, and alarm system. The passive modules are attached on each asset (such
as television, computer, etc); detectors are located on each door or window. When an
asset passes through one detector, the alarm system will alarm.
Micropower impulse radar tracking system
Micropower impulse radar (MIR) tracking system uses very short electromagnetic pulses,
so it can detect objects at much shorter range. This system has two parts: MIR
concealable sensors and alarm system. The effective range of MIR concealable sensor is
6 meters. The MIR concealable sensors can be located anywhere you want. The system
detects motion by repeatedly monitoring the echo pattern to see if it changes. A change
means an intruder has entered the radar bubble, so it triggers an alarm.
This technology works as a coordination between two or more receivers and a
transmitter. The location of the transmitter can be determined by calculating the
propagation time of the radio signals between the transmitters and the receivers. A very
common example of radio triangulation is the global positioning system (GPS).
This technology works on the principle of IR source/sensor combination. The object to be
located and tracked should wear either an infrared reflector or an IR LED, which act as
the source. The Infrared rotating beacon with a considerable beamwidth and coverage
area can be used as a sensor. The relative position of the target with respect to the beacon
can give information about its planar location. Two such beacons can also accurately
determine the position by the intersection of their tracked arcs over the target.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Cell-based tracking system
Cell-based tracking system would require three main parts: transponders, reading units,
and transmit/receive antennas.
• Line of sight not necessarily needed
• Transponders are generally very low cost
• At low frequencies, can transmit through some media
• Other data can also be transmitted along with the ID
• Reading units are expensive, hence continuous tracking of entities is unlikely
• Location would be determined by “last cell crossed”
• Modern systems use specialized IC’s, design of which is beyond the scope of this
To design this system, suitable frequency, power, ID and reading unit should be chosen.
Asset tracking system using detectors
Asset tracking system would have passive modules, simple detectors, and alarm system.
• Easy installation
• It can be easily used
• Have many more uses
To design this system, suitable passive modules, simple detectors, and alarm system
should be chosen.
Micropower impulse radar tracking system
Micropower impulse radar (MIR) tracking system has two parts: MIR concealable
sensors and alarm system.
• Easy installation
• It can be use easily
• The penetration of MIR signals through a material decreases as that material’s
electrical conductivity increases.
To design this system, suitable MIR concealable sensors and alarm system should be
Infrared detection would consist of two parts: the infrared source, and sensors.
• Easy installation
• Low power consumption
• High maintenance
• Must be kept clean
• Line of sight operation
• Hard to differentiate between multiple sources
Radio triangulation would consist of two parts: a transmitter, and multiple receivers.
• Proven technology
• Great expandability
• Huge coverage area
• Large error margin
• Can not be used in confined areas
There are some of the testing approach to test the end product and the intermediate
products in order to the product to work efficiently. It will divided by two parts, one is
the software testing and another one will be hardware testing.
For the software part
To test each module of the program individually.
Black Box Testing
To test the functions of the program individually.
To test the whether the program is going well as written to perform the product.
For the hardware part
The test the devices whether it operates under actual conditions.
Test the product whether it is stable or not, like reliability, and maintainability.
To actual test the devices whether it will have faults like having loss of data, power goes
off out of the sudden and find solutions to recover the faults.
Use tools and procedures to maintenance the devices and tired to keep the system to be
Risks and risk management
Some problems on the technical approach due to equipment failure or the design failure.
To overcome this, start it early and have more time to trial and errors to make it to the
Shortage of Financial assistance
Will occur if the plan is too big and the project does not meet the financial budget or in
the middle of the project, there is some error in the financial budget that causes a shortage
of funds. To solve this, there must be sure and clear planning of the financial budgets.
No Sponsors to assist the project
Maybe no sponsors will be found as it is not in their interest. To solve this, the team will
need to make the objectives of the project clear and target specific companies that are
interested or related to the project.
This will be a sudden risk when doing the project, it is normal that some of the members
have some personal problem and will not able to turn out for meeting, cannot able to
finish up his part of work. To solve this, the member should inform the other members as
soon as possible and have some discussion. It is teamwork and everyone should help each
other when one is in trouble.
Unable to counter problems
Have some difficulties on some of the issue and the advisors are not free or do not have
office hours. To solve this, more mentors, like faculty members or persons who are
experts in the field, must be found. We can have other alternatives beside advisors when
Do not plan well what is the milestone about and cannot head to the directions on which
one to accomplished during the semester. To solve this, goals must be set and a precise
date to accomplish them. Other considerations include the team members availability.
Conflict between team members
In the process of doing the project, there may be conflicts between team members. This
may result in not accomplishing milestones. Therefore, the team must work in a
The estimated financial budget for the entire project is outlined below.
Item Original Estimated Cost
Total Estimated Cost $1650
Table 1 - Financial Budget
The labor costs were calculated from an estimate of the total team workload for the
project. The equipment/parts section was calculated assuming that sponsors or other
(financial) assistance can be found. No telephone or postage costs are projected. The
printing costs will arrive from the printing of the poster. The total is simply a sum of all
Personnel Effort Budget
The estimated personal effort budged for the project is outlined below.
Personnel Original Estimated Effort
Brent Gill 107
Eric Jackson 99
Muhammad Umar Sheikh 102
Shih-Hau Kuan 106
Hui Liu 97
Table 2 - Personnel Effort budget
The team members have tried to utilize their time efficiently in order to meet the project