Tracking system

Tracking system

Generally tracking is the observing of persons or objects on the move and supplying a timely ordered sequence of respective location data to a model e.g. capable to serve for depicting the motion on a display capability.

Tracking in virtual space

In virtual space technology, a tracking system is generally a "system" capable of rendering virtual space to a "human observer" while tracking the observer's body "coordinates". For instance, in dynamic virtual auditory space simulations, a real-time head tracker provides feedback to the central processor, allowing for selection of appropriate "head-related transfer functions" at the estimated current position of the observer relative to the environment.

Tracking in real world

Within the real world, there are a variety of technologies employed within asset tracking systems. Some are 'lag time' indicators, that is, the data is collected after an item has passed a point for example a bar code or choke point or gate. Others are 'real-time' or 'near real-time' like Global Positioning Systems depending on how often the data is refreshed. There are bar-code systems which require a person to scan items and automatic identification (RFID auto-id). For the most part, the tracking worlds are comprised of discrete hardware and software systems for different applications. That is, bar-code systems are separate from Electronic Product Code (EPC) systems, GPS systems are separate from active real time locating systems or RTLS for example, a passive RFID system would be used in a warehouse to scan the boxes as they are loaded on a truck - then the truck itself is tracked on a different system using GPS with its own features and software. The major technology “silos” in the supply chain are:


Indoors assets are tracked repetitively reading e.g. a barcode, any passive and active RFID and feeding read data into Work in Progress models (WIP) or Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) or ERP software. The readers required per choke point are meshed auto-ID or hand-held ID applications.

However tracking could also be capable to provide monitoring data without binding to fixed location by using a cooperative tracking capability, e.g. an RTLS.

Yard management

Outdoors mobile assets of high value are tracked by choke point,802.11, Received Signal Strength Indication (RSSI), Time Delay on Arrival (TDOA), active RFID or GPS Yard Management; feeding into either third party yard management software from the provider or to an existing system.

Fleet management

Outdoors mobile applications using GPS linked to cellular or satellite networks. Fleet management is required by:

* Large fleet operators, (vehicle/trucking/shipping)
* Operators who have high equipment and/or cargo/product costs
* Operators who have a dynamic workload

Mobile phone services

Location-based services or LBS is a term that is derived from the telematics and telecom world. The combination of A-GPS, newer GPS and cellular locating technology is what has enabled the latest “LBS” for handsets and PDAs. Line of sight is not necessarily required for a location fix. This is a significant advantage in certain applications since a GPS signal can still be lost indoors. As such, A-GPS enabled cell phones and PDAs can be located indoors and the handset may be tracked more precisely. This enables non-vehicle centric applications and can bridge the indoor location gap, typically the domain of RFID and RTLS systems, with an off the shelf cellular device.

Currently, A-GPS enabled handsets are still highly dependent on the Location-Based Service (LBS) carrier system, so handset device choice and application requirements are still not apparent. Enterprise system integrators need the skills and knowledge to correctly choose the pieces that will fit the application and geography.

Operational Requirements

Regardless of the tracking technology, for the most part the end-user just wants to locate himselves or wants to find any things of interested. The reality is that there is no "one size fits all" solution with locating technology for all conditions and applications.

Application of tracking is a substantial basis for fleet tracking, individual navigation, social networking, asset management, or mobile resource management and more. Company, group or individual interests can benefit from more than one of the offered technologies depending on the context.

GPS applications

GPS has global coverage but can be hindered by line-of-sight issues caused by buildings and urban canyons. RFID is excellent and reliable indoors or in situations where close proximity to tag readers is feasible, but has limited range and still requires costly readers.

Real Time Location Systems (RTLS)

RTLS are enabled by location-enabled Wi-Fi/Wi-Max, are good for very specific geographical areas such as campuses and office buildings but require system-level deployments to be effective. Tag to tag RTLS systems are affordable and accurate for industrial and yard applications but are not appropriate for all indoor applications.

See also

* Locating engine
* Location-based service
* Multilateration
* Unilateration
* Real time locating
* Applicant tracking system
* Bug tracking system or Bugtracker
* Issue tracking system
* GPS tracking
* Satellite tracker
* Vehicle tracking system


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