Augmenting Indoor Inertial Tracking with Polarized Light


Inertial measurement unit (IMU) has long suffered from the problem of integration drift, where sensor noises accumulate quickly and cause fast-growing tracking errors. Existing methods for calibrating IMU tracking either require human in the loop, or need energy-consuming cameras, or suffer from coarse tracking granularity. We propose to augment indoor inertial tracking by reusing existing indoor luminaries to project a static light polarization pattern in the space. This pattern is imperceptible to human eyes and yet through a polarizer, it becomes detectable by a color sensor, and thus can serve as fine-grained optical landmarks that constrain and correct IMU’s integration drift and boost tracking accuracy. Exploiting the birefringence optical property of transparent tapes – a low-cost and easily-accessible material – we realize the polarization pattern by simply adding to existing light cover a thin polarizer film with transparent tape stripes glued atop. When fusing with IMU sensor signals, the light pattern enables robust, accurate and low-power motion tracking. Meanwhile, our approach entails low deployment overhead by reusing existing lighting infrastructure without needing an active modulation unit. We build a prototype of our light cover and the sensing unit using off-the-shelf components. Experiments show 4.3 cm median error for 2D tracking and 10 cm for 3D tracking, as well as its robustness in diverse settings.

ACM International Conference on Mobile Systems, Applications, and Services (MobiSys), 2018.
Xia Zhou
Xia Zhou
Associate Professor

My research interests include distributed robotics, mobile computing and programmable matter.