Object Positioning Types. The Application of Each Positioning Technology


Hi, today we will discuss with you the types and ways of object positioning using radio technologies.

I will try to answer the following questions:

  • What types of positioning exist?
  • What is the difference between Bluetooth and UWB?
  • What are the benefits of a hybrid positioning?

Types of Object Positioning

Various positioning systems are now used in all sectors of the economy. By locating and tracking facilities, companies are able to monitor people and machinery, ensure process safety and improve business efficiency. The application of a particular type of positioning depends on the specifics of the activity and tasks of a particular organization. In general, positioning technologies can be divided into 3 large types:

  1. Global positioning
  2. Local positioning
  3. Hybrid positioning

Let’s review the existing technologies and the cases when we can rely on them.

Global Positioning

Global positioning systems (GNSS) are based on the use of satellite technologies. Coordinates setting, motion direction and speed are set with the help of GPS, GLONASS, or satellites of other navigation systems (Galileo, Beidou). Accuracy of object positioning varies from 2 to 6 meters. If the positioning system uses signals from several orbital groups, the error does not exceed 2-3 meters. In the future, as technology develops, the accuracy will be around few tens of centimeters.

Deployment of satellite control systems does not require much effort and costs; their functioning requires installation of monitoring systems and dispatching software. However, with all the advantages, global positioning will be effective only in open area, that is, with a consistent reception of satellite signals. Therefore, the scope of global systems is limited to transport and, in some cases, mobile personnel. For any company that has its own or hired car fleet, satellite control is absolutely necessary. But when it comes to premises, production or underground mining, satellite technologies will not be helpful due to technology limitations and re-reflection of the signal in the premises, even with large windows.

Local Positioning

As the name implies, local positioning systems (RTLS) are designed to monitor employees, transport, equipment and the entire situation within strictly defined limits. These can be office and production facilities, warehouses and logistics complexes, medical organizations, underground facilities, mines, etc. In this case, wireless and radio-frequency technologies are used (e.g. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, RFID, ZigBee, nanoLOC, UWB), as well as infrared, ultrasonic, optical, inertial and other technologies. Depending on the applied technologies, local positioning is divided into zone (up to 20 meters) and precise (from 0.1 to 3 meters).

This type of positioning is much more complex and requires more investment than global positioning. This results from deployment requirements, such as available infrastructure and wired networks, tags, anchors, antennas, etc. When a company installs a high-grade system then due to proper control of business processes its installation expenses will pay off within 1-2 years. However, it is important to understand that positioning will be carried out only within the organized infrastructure. That is, if a person leaves the area of the local positioning system anchors, we will be able to know only the area or exit point. Therefore, in companies where objects also need to be controlled outside the equipped closed area, local positioning will not be enough.

Hybrid Positioning

This type of positioning helps to monitor objects in both indoor and outdoor environments using a single monitoring system. This is due to the fact that hybrid positioning combines global and local positioning technologies. Thus, for example, GNSS and BLE technologies can be combined in one device. And if the positioning system includes equipment that can switch to different modes of coordinates setting it will be the best option for a company interested in integrated control, both indoors and outdoors.

For clarity I present a comparative table of capabilities of the described types of positioning:

Local positioning

Global positioning

Hybrid positioning


Zone – up to 20 m*
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, RFID, ZigBee


Precise – from 0,1 to 3 m*

nanoLOC, UWB


GPS / GLONASS – from 2 to 6 m


from 0,1 to 20 m

Key Benefits

Enables to position objects in closed premises, in underground conditions and in any other space where global positioning systems are not available.

Key Benefits

Detects object positioning on surface not requiring additional infrastructure.

Key Benefits

The combination of two positioning technologies, due to this the hardware positions object regardless any conditions *.

A case in point is our product RealTrac Positioning. For objects monitoring it uses a patented RealTrac technology for local positioning, which is based on BLE and UWB technologies and global positioning technology using satellite navigation systems (GNSS).

In real conditions, a personal hybrid GPS/GLONASS/RTLS tracker carried by an employee allows to provide widespread coverage and uninterruptable control. For example, if an employee works on the territory and then enters the building, the tracker will send information about the fact of entering the building and the location to the room. And in case when there isn’t satellite or radio signal, the information will be stored in a black box and will be transmitted to the server when the connection is restored.

Yes, there are inertial and ultrasonic positioning systems on the market, but their use is highly specialized and not suitable for wide use as the main technology of personnel positioning.

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