Introduction to NFER® RTLS


Location awareness presents significant challenges. Lack of location data impacts the lives and safety of workers, as well as the bottom line. In many industrial, urban, or other settings, location awareness is uneconomical if it is available at all.

Incumbent location providers take high frequency, short wavelength wireless systems, like Wi-Fi or UWB, that were optimized for high data rate communications, and they try to use them to solve the challenging problem of indoor wireless location. But location and communication are two fundamentally different problems requiring fundamentally different solutions, particularly in the most challenging RF propagation environments.

“Near-field electromagnetic ranging” (NFER®) technology offers a wireless physical layer optimized for real-time location in the most RF hostile settings. NNFER® systems exploit near-field behavior within about a half wavelength of a tag transmitter to locate a tag to an accuracy of 1-3 ft, at ranges of 60-150 ft, all at an infrastructure cost of $0.50/sqft or less for most installations. NFER® systems operate at low frequencies, typically around 1MHz, and long wavelengths, typically around 300m. FCC Part 15 compliant, low-power, low frequency tags provide a relatively simple approach to wireless location that is simply better in difficult environments.

RTLS Indoor Technologies

Low frequency signals penetrate better and diffract or bend around the human body and other obstructions. This physics gives NFER® systems long range. There’s more going on in the near field than in the far field. Radial field components provide the near field with an extra (third) polarization, and the electric and magnetic field components are not synchronized as they are for far-field signals. Thus, the near field offers more trackable parameters. Also, low-frequency, long-wavelength signals are virtually immune from multipath. This physics gives NFER® systems high accuracy. Low frequency hardware is less expensive, and less of it is needed because of the long range. This makes NFER® systems more economical in more difficult RF environments.

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