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Innovation in location-based services competition winners - for improved rail track safety, shared logistics, and the Satellite Applications Catapult

InnovateUK last month released the full list of winning projects for its Innovation in location-based services competition, that offered investment of up to £5m in projects that stimulate innovation in the UK location-based services sector.

The aim of the competition was to support projects that take advantage of the increasing accuracy, coverage and speed of global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) such as GPS and other non-satellite technologies such as iBeacon, Wi-Fi and radio frequency identification (RFID) to build innovative location-based services or improve the user experience of existing services. 

The competition closed on 11 June 2014, and the results pdf - output on 14 September 2014 - include projects for improved rail track worker safety, freight transport logistics, plus a InnovateUK funding award for the Satellite Applications Catapult.


Results of competition: Innovation in location-based services - Collaborative R&D Total available funding for this competition was £5m from Innovate UK

Multi System MicroTag

The multi-system MicroTag project’s stated aim is to offer the world’s smallest, most power efficient and multi-functional location based service, with its primary objective being the management and rehabilitation of offenders.

The cost of failure of existing systems and processes in this sector is claimed to exceed £10 billion per year.

Led by CareWhere Limited, with collaborative partners Nottingham Scientific Ltd, Walters Group Holding Limited and

Satellite Applications Catapult, the proposed project budget was £785,001, with a proposed project grant of £550,889.

Other suggested applications was stated as any market where location, proximity alert and movement detection are vital, such as personal anti-collision systems for cyclists or applications in the health and vulnerable persons market.


Product Market Fit Research Release

Firefly Experience Limited, together with the Creative Computing Department at Goldsmiths University of London proposed Firefly app for producing a digital story of memories from a trip or life event. The app is designed to track a user’s GPS location, plotted, with key moments, on a map.

The aim is to solve several technical and user experience challenges by testing and user trials, and the building up of a database of travel information along the way.

As listed in, Firefly Experience ltd “distill(s) the best of trip planning, travel guides, journaling & mementos in a lovely experience, designed for today’s smartphone traveller”. The London based travel start-up is led by Founder & CEO Chad Cribbins .


Globavista - Visualisation for Big Data Maritime Location Based Services

Globavista Limited, a Wells, Somerset, based specialist in tracking, telemetry and precise positioning technologies, has been awarded £344,848 for the Visualisation for Big Data Maritime Location Based Services project to develop a BigData geospatial platform, that combines data from various sources to support growth of Globavista in the maritime commodity movement market.

The total pProposed project cost of the project is £500,606.

The project will merge satellite Automatic Identification System (AIS) data, terrestrial AIS data, global metrological information, vessel data, piracy intelligence, port and terminal information, territorial water and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) information - to enable the production of value added data, historical trend information and forecasting capabilities.

As part of the project, visualisation software will be developed in partnership with the together with The University of Nottingham for a worldwide view of vessel and location analysis capabilities for the user.

Globavista Shipping Tracking Overview from globavista on Vimeo.

Last year, Globalvista’s management team bought out the entire business and assets of BlueFinger, a supplier of maritime monitoring and precise positioning solutions. The company said it currently monitors in excess of 30,000 maritime assets worldwide, and provides specialist precise positioning solutions through its Globavista Web Portal and Enterprise IT solutions as well as the supply of its unique Tracs TDMA radio product.


TrackSafe - Trackworker Safety

Leicester based Guidance Navigation Limited - that works with universities around its innovation centres at Leicester, Hitchin and Oxford and develops technologies in Microwave and Laser used for navigation, measurement and positioning applications - is to lead the TrackSafe - Trackworker Safety project in partnership with product development consultants Bluefrog Design, (also based in Leicester), Network Rail and the University Of Oxford.

Guidance Navigation is also a participant in the High speed railway asset mapping system using enhanced 3D imaging and automated visual analytics project that was a successful proposal for the Enabling the digital railways Collaborative R&D competition.

The two year £991,323 budgeted TrackSafe - Trackworker Safety project intends to develop a new Location-Based Service (LBS) to track the locations of trackside workers in the rail industry, with the assistance of a proposed project grant of £681,096 from InnovateUK.

According to the proposal “there is a clear need for a technology that works, providing a LBS in GPS-denied terrain to provide awareness and management of worker location on the track, a dangerous working environment".

The service plans to provides the ability to define safe working zones and provide robust alerts if workers stray outside zones, in, for example, cuttings, tunnels, under bridges and underground.

In its description of the project Oxford University’s Department of Computer Science states the key objective is to develop an integrated system to greatly reduce the hazards for railway track workers when working on or near operational lines, whilst improving efficiency by integrating into a GIS mapping system.

It states that over 70,000 trackworkers gain access to lines every year without any automated safety system in place. In the UK alone, four workers were killed in the last three years due to a train strike, with many more injured source: Office of Rail Regulation. This is particularly relevant for workers close to operational lines (red-zones), where trains can approach at over 100mph, giving very little warning of arrival. Safe working practice is complicated by dark and confined operating conditions (such as in a tunnel) and noisy equipment.

The main challenge is that trackworkers often operate in environments where conventional positioning techniques like GPS fail, such as within tunnels and under bridges.

To overcome this limitation, a through-earth positioning technology based on vector magneto-inductive (MI) fields is to be developed. One of the main advantages is that MI techniques also allow for bi-directional communication, without requiring a line of sight connection. This allows workers to be alerted (using a combination of audio, vibrating and flashing lights) that a train is approaching, allowing them to retreat to a safe point. In addition, by providing accurate location, workers can more rapidly be directed to the location of a particular asset. This could also lead to improvements in efficiency by monitoring the progress of a particular task, allowing a site supervisor to manage their team more effectively.


Personal inertial navigation system

The Personal inertial navigation system project - led by J&M Inertial Navigation Limited - aims to develop a system to help people rescue themselves from hazardous environments, with limited visibility and an immediate danger of death. This includes divers in caves and shipwrecks, but is also intended for fire and rescue personnel in smoke-filled buildings, guiding them quickly and safely to exits.

Proof of concept market research, conducted for J&M Inertial Navigation by Marketwise Strategies, involving interviews of technical divers and fire and rescue service personnel, as claimed to find strong indications of interest within both potential target markets.

The results of the market research were used by J&M Inertial Navigation to help secure the follow-on finance required to develop prototypes and move towards market launch, and to guide a wide-range of product design decisions.

The device is made up of two parts: a navigation unit and a display module. The navigation unit can be secured around the body, and will track the movements of the user. The display unit can be worn on the wrist. In the event of a life-or-death situation where standard approaches for return to the point of entry have failed or proven inadequate, the device would assist the user in retracing their route.

J&M Inertial Navigation has developed a pre-prototype product, and at the time of publication of the case study, the company was seeking second-stage finance, prior to developing and testing a full product prototype.

Rotherham-based Arrow Technical Services is the collaborative partner, for the project with proposed project costs of £263,481, supported by a proposed project grant of £158,089.



Linknode Ltd - a Glasgow based developer of apps that use 3D data, GPS location and mobile sensors, and specialises “in the convergence of location, sensors, devices and model data for geospatial augmented reality (AR), aka GIality - is to lead the UrbanPlanAR9 in partnership with Heriot-Watt University, with an aim to deliver a mobile Augmented Reality solution for visualising proposed urban developments. One of its suggested selling points is to address the lack of trust in visual impact assessments, perceived historically providing deliberately manipulated images.

End users would be architects, developers, planning authorities as well as communities and citizens, provided with an improved means to visualise proposed developments within actual urban environments.

The proposed project costs of the project was £366,313, with proposed project grant of £256,199.

The solution uses urban location tracking with a cross-platform augmented reality mobile app. The system is hoped to extend to use additional sensor data (GPS and magnetometers) and to enable a smooth workflow with Building Information Modelling (BIM).

The project will use city 3D models (eg in cityGML format).

Linknode current offers its VentusAR product; a mobile solution for visual impact analysis assessment, that uses Linknode’s GIality technology platform to create a integrated 3D visualisation apps for dynamic real-world augmented reality.

It also sells HistoryLens, a personalised guide using GPS for locational interpretation, using 3D visualisation for visitor engagement, such as for museums, galleries, parks, estates and trails; and, a augmented reality mobile app that provides an interactive visualisations that combines imagery and sensors.

The app is said to be the first 3D GIality solution published across Windows Phone, Google Android and Apple iOS.



Rapid Development Platform for Rich, Location-based Services with WOMAD Festival Use Case

WOMAD - World of Music, Arts and Dance - is a festival co-founded by Peter Gabriel that brings together artists from all over the globe. WOMAD in the UK takes place in the grounds of Charlton Park, a stately home in Wiltshire.

Bath based MergeWorlds plans to demonstrate, what it claims is, the first cloud platform for rapid development of location based services by developing an example application for WOMAD.

This festival app, developed by Blispa, a Bath based beacon software application led by Michael Youngan, is intended to improve the simple festival programme guide into an engaging gateway to activities triggered by location and context.

The app is designed to increase user engagement and build relationships and communities to encourage attendance at future events.

The project will integrate GPS and iBeacon technology at festivals; that the proposal claims is “a challenging outdoor, temporary environment”.

Location data will also assist in crowd and event management, site retail efficiencies and provide value to bands, promoters and event organisers.

The developed platform could also, it is claimed, be applied in other settings, such as retail, events, education, tourism and public services.

The proposed project costs amount to £996,249, supported by a proposed project grant of £597,749.


COSLE - Collaborative Optimisation in a Shared-Logistics Environment

*Matt Hague, Product Strategy Director at Microlise with Professor Robert John of the University of Nottingham*












*Matt Hague, Product Strategy Director at Microlise with Professor Robert John of the University of Nottingham*













Nottingham based Transport Management Systems company Microlise Ltd, along with collaborative partner the University of Nottingham, have been awarded funding of £719,435 (out of proposed project costs of £999,404) for The Collaborative Optimisation in a Shared-Logistics Environment project; that proposes the development of a service to enable collaboration in a shared freight transport logistics environment.

Location data and environmental data together with GPS, vehicle telematics, optimisation, image processing and mobile technology will be used to create a service to reduce empty freight runs, and therefore create business opportunities.

Microlise Ltd and University of Nottingham were also recently jointly awarded £359,000 by InnovateUK for the “Value Enhancement for Data from Assets & Transactions” (VEDAT) project, to achieve customer and market value from the high volumes of complex data (Big Data) generated in real-time through telematics technology. That project was awarded under the Data exploration - creating new insight and value - Collaborative R&D competition.

Microlise state that its systems, underpinned by its telematics technology, enables customers to reduce operating costs and environmental impact by maximising the efficiency of their transportation.

Key drivers for implementing a Microlise systems, it states, are to increase utilisation & productivity, reduce fleet & operational costs, improve customer service, improve driver safety & fuel economy and ultimately lower CO2 emissions.


CAMEL - Construction Asset Management using Enhanced LBS

The Construction Asset Management using Enhanced Locations Based Services, or CAMEL, project is led by Participants Omnisense Limited. Headquartered in Cambridge, Omnisense offers accurate technology so people and assets can be positioned relative to each other in real-time.

The collaborative partners in the £584,102 budgeted project supported by a £350,461 grant) are 3Squared Limited - a Sheffield-based software & mobile app development company - and 1248 Limited a Cambridge based provider of IoT (Internet of Things) infrastructure.

The CAMEL project intends to provide construction site and project managers with information to improve operational efficiency, resource utilisation and worker Health & Safety during construction projects.

This, they hope, will be achieved through use of location data; providing position, velocity and orientation, of equipment materials and workers on construction sites indoors and out, obtained with Omnisense Cluster Location Technology, developed by 3Squared.

The application will provide zonal information, contextual location and precise position - presented in a way suited to project managers. For example managers are often more interested in utilisation of a particular man and machine and their relationship, rather than merely where each are located.

1248 will provide skills around open standards in the IoT (internet of Things) and BIM (Building Information Modelling) sectors, to allow authorised personnel to access real-time information on or off site using local or cloud-based services.



Leamington based mobile app developer RNF Digital Innovation Limited, with parters Bestway Cash & Carry Limited; University of Aston ; and University of Lincoln , have secured a £493,705 grant (out of a £702,415 budget) to develop a indoor navigation service using smartphones, tablets and iBeacons that can be used across a range of businesses including supermarkets, hospitals and leisure parks.

RNF Digital Innovation Limited , based in Leamington Spa, is a provider of mobile enterprise apps. Aston University and the University of Lincoln, who will both provide technical and research support for the project.

In its proposal, the consortium stated that given that more than 48% of all adults use social networking and 37% of all social networking is conducted on mobile applications, a large proportion of the population is accustomed to providing their geolocation or seeking geolocated services or resources.

Currently, navigation is primarily outdoors using GPS; however iBeacon technology (low Bluetooth emission devices) can facilitate navigation and positioning indoors to within a few metres and can trigger media content on the smartphone.

iBeacons are being used in retail environments to highlight products but the potential to combine indoor navigation with the delivery of information at selected points of interest is not currently being exploited.

In its press release announcing that RNF Digital Innovation is to lead the £702,000 budgeted SWiFT project, Rob Mannion, RNF Digital Innovation Managing Director, said: “This system will allow us to deploy and utilise i-beacons in a way never seen before, enabling the creation of a user experience far in advance of what is currently available.”

The technology will have applications for a range of sectors. For example in the retail sector, indoor navigation systems would enable the user to work out their quickest and most economical route at the supermarket alerting them to offers and product updates on the way.

Jamil Mohammed, Group E-commerce Manager at Bestway Group, said, “This project represents a fantastic opportunity to take our consumer experience to a new level of interaction. By embracing i-beacon technology throughout our network of UK stores and depots, we will be able to offer our customers a retail experience far beyond anything currently available.

Dr Joanna Lumsden of Aston University said: “Using the unique resources within the Aston Interactive Media (AIM) Lab, we will design as part of this project mobile applications that use innovative ways to allow users to interact with information. We will seek to use combinations of sound and touch as well as vision as part of the advanced user experience this sort of indoor navigation system will offer.”

The indoor navigation system project, including research and development, is scheduled to take place over the next 18 months.

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