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DFG Project: Passive Infrared Localization

Ubiquitous Computing & Localization

In our daily life we are nowadays surrounded by an increasing number of intelligent systems that realize automation of certain tasks like light or blinds control and enable new ways of interaction with the environment. In this context, one speaks of smart spaces or ubiquitous computing, a notion inveted by Mark Weiser that describes the ubiquity of systems like PCs, handhelds or mobiles.

Along with the improved connectivity by technologies like Ethernet or wireless solution like WLAN or UMTS it is possible to create novel, location based services. Therefore, it is often necessary to locate a user. That is why in recent years several indoor location systems were invented. However, these systems are predominantly based on radio or ultrasonic technologies and thus require carrying special hardware (transmitter or receiver). Camera-based approaches on the other hand get along without additional hardware but violate user privacy and suffer from a lack of user acceptance.  Additionally, they depend on lighting conditions.


Passive Infrared Localization

Infrarotlokalisierung With passive infrared localization these drawbacks are avoided by exploiting the thermal radiation of a human body. Consequently, the user becomes an active source himself. In addition, by applying low resolution sensors, privacy is also guaranteed.

In the scope of a three year lasting project (2008 - 2011), sponsored by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), a passive infrared location systems is developed that enables the localization and tracking of several people, indoors. For the detection standard infrared sensors - so called thermopiles - are applied which are available als single, line and array sensors. For several of these sensors, distributed over the room, the angle is calculated under which an objects is seen. Based on these angles, positioning via triangulation is possible, as illustrated in the figure.


The challenges that have to be handled in this context result from the fact that not only users but every object with a temperature above absolute zero emitts thermal radiation. This radiation cannot be discriminated from that of a human and thus tampers the calculated angles. Consequently, a reliable detection of disturbance sources is of significant importance.


In the scope of this project, the following topics are addressed :

  • Development of a real-time simulator for dynamic indoor environments
  • Development of  algorithms to locate several people based on their thermal radiation
  • Development of  methods to detect and filter infrared disturbance sources
  • Development of  a convenient infrastructure
  • Development of  a comfortable way to set up and calibrate the system
  • Realization of  a prototype system


Dipl.-Ing. Jürgen Kemper
Dipl.-Ing. Nicolaj Kirchhof

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