PLS

Pyramid Localization System (PLS)

Do you want to:

  • Accurately pinpoint guests in your restaurant?
  • Help customers find sought-after products in your store?
  • Generate meaningful heat maps?
  • Push promotions on the sales floor?

 

The ultrasound-based localization system PLS offers you all these options. With an accuracy of 15 cm, it is ten times more accurate than systems based on WLAN, Bluetooth or RFID technology. PLS works with any standard smartphone and for users without smartphones, an inexpensive alternative is available in the form of a mobile ultrasonic transmitter called a “puck”.

 

The advantages of PLS are clear – no other localization process offers you them in this combination!

Better comfort, better service, more sales – PLS for hospitality

With PLS you can provide your guests with exceptional benefits: Quick, easy ordering and payment using a smartphone or at an order kiosk. Their order can then find them at the table of their choice. Welcome to the restaurant of the future... your guests will be amazed!

 


Order process

The guest makes his/her choice using a smartphone app or an order kiosk. After the order has been placed, the kiosk can either dispense an intelligent localization puck, or the guest uses PLS for identification with his smartphone. From the moment the order has been placed, serving staff can track the location of the customer on the screen, no matter where the customer is in the restaurant area. You can even see when your guest suddenly decides to change tables. Once the food has been prepared, it can be served to the right table.

 


Communication

For staff queries about the order, for example, a signal can be sent to the puck or the smartphone. For this, either text messages (only if using smartphones or the premium version of the pucks), light signals in different colours, vibration signals or alarm sounds can be used.

 


Integrated local solution

If guests are using their own smartphone, this is indicated on the printed receipt. Otherwise, the puck will be collected by staff when serving the order and placed back in the kiosk, where it is charged ready for the next customer. With a reserve of 20 pucks per kiosk, there are always enough charged pucks available.
PLS is the only localization system on the market that offers such a straightforward closed solution. All the necessary functions such as registration/de-registration and charging are integrated in the dispensing kiosks and administered locally.

 


System requirements

For PLS to operate effectively the restaurant must be fitted with ultrasound receivers (PLS receivers) on the ceiling. The number of receivers necessary depends on the size and shape of the room. As a general rule of thumb, every possible guest location should be "visible" by 4 ceiling receivers. 5 to 6 receivers are usually sufficient for a rectangular dining room of 10 by 15 metres, for example. More information on PLS components can be found here.

 

 

Enhanced service, better information, better control – PLS in retail

Whether in the supermarket or a clothing store, improving the customer experience is a key objective. Providing accurate local information is an important element in improving the experience. PLS provides all the functionality you need for this: Learn which offers your customers find attractive and help them find the products or special offers they are looking for. Using indoor localization services, you can not only offer your customers additional services, but open up your shop or supermarket to new revenue opportunities at the same time.

 


Heat maps

Would you like to know how many customers you have, where they are, at which times and for what reasons? WLAN or Bluetooth systems do not always provide the reliable accurate data necessary to pinpoint their location.The PLS app provides a solution that enables accurate positioning of approx.15 cm without draining the customer's smartphone battery. This accuracy provides a precise record of instore customer activity, giving you the chance to allocate resources and offer specific customer benefits.    

 


Navigation help

Accurate wayfinding has benefits for everyone. Your customer not only benefits from special offers, but is also shown an accurate route to the products of their choice. PLS allows them to find a quick and straightforward way to a desired product from anywhere in the shop. Through the PLS app, your customers’ smartphones can be used to precisely locate them on the sales floor and show them a visual route to the product they are looking for. They can also save time by making a shopping list that will optimise their route for them and sort it according to the way in which the retail outlet is organised. Real value to your customers – and for you!
 


Individual offers

Individualised push-messages when passing certain hotspots can significantly improve sales. Without accurate location finding the push message can be distracting and frustrating. With PLS accurate to approx. 15 cm your customer receives targeted information and promotions on his/her smartphone, just before he/she passes through the relevant location. If you make use of VIP, Family-, membership- or loyalty programmes, you can highlight special offers to your selected customer base immediately after their arrival in the retail outlet (and upon activation of the app). For example, you can offer your customers a coffee or a complementary service, in the warehouse or on the shop floor, while they continue their shopping as planned.

 

 

PLS - Order and localization in one system

Pyramid offers you all components for your order and localization application from one provider. The complete system is in this form unique on the market.

 

Puck or smartphone

Tracking device locating guests/customers

 

Receiver

  • Type 1: Surface mount (ø 4,5 inch)
  • Type 2: Flush mount (ø ½ inch)

The receiver is mounted on restaurant’s ceiling. Detects the puck’s or smartphone location and communicates with master station.

 

Master controller

Coordinates communication and localization of the entire PLS infrastructure.

 

Order Kiosk with automatic dispenser unit

The orders can be executed independently Via the order kiosk (polytouch® 32 passport with dispenser unit).

The installation of such an order kiosk is very easy.

The manual or automatic dispenser unit used for storing, charging, and distributing the pucks after an order is placed: Video

 

Positioning display

At the positioning display the kitchen staff can precisely locate the customer within the restaurant, even if the customer has decided to change the table.

 

 

 

 

 

Indoor localization – Operating principle

In enclosed spaces such as shops or restaurants, the satellite-based global positioning system (GPS) is not available. Special technical measures must therefore be used to locate a person or object.

Why does Pyramid use the ultrasound technology?

For applications requiring high accuracy, reliability and versatile usability – with both a Puck or a smartphone – the PLS ultrasound method is the best choice!

PLS uses the bat principle proven in the nature: Via the loudspeaker of the smartphones or puck short ultrasound pulses are sent to the receivers which are installed permanently in the room and the position of the transmitter is calculated by the time taken for the pulse to travel between the transmitter and receiver.

So PLS reaches a significantly higher precision than most other localization technologies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For comparison here an overview of the most important methods for indoor localization.

 
Ultrasound
WLAN Bluetooth UWB RFID Geomagnetism VLC/Light
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[[mouseover::matrix_bluetooth]]
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[[mouseover::matrix_uwb]]
(i)
[[mouseover::matrix_rfid]]
(i)
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Positioning accuracy approx. 15 cm 3-6 m 3-6 m 20 cm n.a. > 1m 30 cm
Use via smartphone (/) (/) (/) (x) (x) (/) (/)
Installation work medium low low high high minimal high

Ultrasound

The procedure to be used for measuring signal propagation delay, as per the bat navigation model, is based on the Pyramid Localization System PLS.

Advantages:

  • PLS provides extremely precise localisation results within a range of 15-30 cm.
  • The system can be used with both customers’ smartphones, as well as with a puck for those visitors without a smartphone.
  • The PLS app only requires access to the speaker of the smartphone, thus avoiding privacy- and data protection issues.
  • Due to the runtime measurement, only a low level of computing power is required to calculate the position, which helps conserve the battery life of customers’ smartphones or the puck.
  • The system does not require calibration so it is possible to achieve precise positioning from the moment a movement is first made in the room.
  • The costs of the necessary infrastructure are manageable; the only prerequisite is the installation of a few ultrasound receivers (PLS receivers) on the ceiling of the room.

Note: Other ultrasound methods use a reverse signal direction (permanently installed transmitters, smartphones as receivers). For this, the user must remove the microphone from their smartphone. This potentially safety-critical access could affect the acceptance of the procedure. In addition, the position calculation needs to be undertaken on the smartphone, which results in increased power consumption. PLS avoids these problems.

WLAN

Localization is carried out by measuring the reception field strength (Received Signal Strength Indicator, RSSI) in the wireless frequency range 2.4 and 5 GHz. Using current algorithms, a position accuracy of 3 to 6 metres can be expected, which is quite inaccurate in many fields of application, such as trade or catering.

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)

This RSS method offers a similar level of accuracy as WLAN, but provides varying precise measurements depending on the number of people present. For improved accuracy, several BLE signal transmitters (beacons) are required in the room in question, therefore increasing the cost of installation.

Ultra‐Wideband (UWB)

UWB have the ability to penetrate building materials such as concrete, glass and
wood and this can lead to multiple reflections which may affect the accuracy of the measurement.

RFID

Most of the systems based on this technology are not locating procedures in the strictest sense, but instead perform a location determination at close range. In a restaurant, for example, RFID tags are attached to the tables. In order to locate a guest, a puck must be placed at a maximum distance of 5 cm from the transponder. The system is robust and provides accurate results, but needs the customer to be switched on and disciplined. In addition, it is not possible to use smartphones, and tracking cannot happen in places that are not "tagged", like corridors, an adjacent table, or if the puck is placed in a pocket. This disadvantage is not relevant to RFID tracking systems with RSSI evaluation, but they do, however, only achieve low precision in the metre range.

 

Geomagnetism

Here, a specific magnetic fingerprint is assigned to each location in a closed room. This varies when a person or object is present; tracking is possible by using this change. The method is reliable, but assumes a learning phase and is therefore not suitable for tracking customers who usually “spontaneously" enter a shop or restaurant.

Visual Light Communication (VLC)/ light

This positioning method requires a direct line of sight from the customers’ smartphones to the light source and requires the smartphone camera to be activated. The accuracy of approximately 30 cm is sufficient for use in the retail and hospitality fields, but does require a complete lighting installation. VLC can be exclusively operated with smartphones and affordable pucks are not available.

Characteristics of PLS

How does tracking work with PLS?

PLS uses the speaker of the smartphone or a puck to transmit short ultarsound pulses. The system measures the signal propagation time to the receivers installed in the room, thereby calculating the position of the transmitter.

What are the main advantages of PLS compared to other indoor localization systems?

PLS offers a very high level of accuracy (15-30 cm), meaning that a shelf-accurate location is possible in sales and retail areas, and in restaurants it is possible to achieve positioning that is accurate to the exact table. Other systems, such as WLAN and Bluetooth, allow only a rough position in the room to be determined.

Why is it not possible to use GPS?

The satellite-based GPS method is not available indoors, which is why special methods are therefore needed. The rule of thumb is GPS outside, and PLS inside!

Why is PLS so accurate?

Unlike other methods, PLS measures the signal propagation time between transmitters and receivers. With this so-called time-of-flight method, positions can be precisely determined.

Can PLS simultaneously locate multiple users in one room?

Yes, thanks to a sophisticated time management, up to 50 users can be located in one room at the same time.

Is it not more practical to track using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, given that these systems are already integrated in the smartphone?

Speakers are also installed in every standard smartphone, and PLS does not need anything else. In addition, PLS also offers a much higher level of accuracy.

 

Do users of PLS have to disclose private data?

No. A speaker is the only thing that is needed to use PLS; there is no need for a microphone slot and so there is no risk of ‘eavesdropping’!

Can PLS be used even without a smartphone?

Yes, there are small mobile ultrasound transmitters available for this purpose, which are called pucks. You can easily put these in your pocket or place them on the table in the restaurant so that they can be tracked by the system.

Does PLS require large quantities of energy?

No, smartphone batteries are hardly affected because it is only short, ultrasonic pulses that are emitted and no calculations are carried out. This assumes the use of a central server unit.

Are the ultrasound signals harmful to your hearing?

The low volume of the PLS pulses is uncritical. In addition, the pulses are suppressed as soon as a headset is connected to the smartphone.

Can PLS be a problem for dogs?

The ultrasound pulses are so short and quiet that they usually have no effect on the behavior of dogs. Furthermore, the PLS signal has no resemblance to the sound of a dog whistle.

 

Applications of PLS

How can I use PLS in my retail and sales areas?

PLS helps you understand the exact route your customers take, and will generate conclusive heatmaps. Moreover, you can also propose targeted offers to your customers using customised push Messages.

How can I convince my customers to use PLS?

You can offer your customers navigational aids to their desired product, or a time-saving, route-optimized way of completing their shopping lists. When shopping in the supermarket, you can therefore offer an added value and a fun-filled value.

What added value does PLS offer for my restaurant?

You can automate your entire order and operating procedure, therefore significantly increasing the table occupancy rate. The guest can order and pay using a smartphone and so the operation is more accurate – a special service experience for the guest!

How can pucks be used in the restaurant?

After completion of the order on the touch kiosk, the guests are given a puck that they can use to choose a table. From the moment, the order has been placed, serving staff can track the location of the customer on the screen, even if he suddenly decides to sit at a different table. This means that space-specific uses are always guaranteed.

Can smartphones and pucks be used simultaneously?

Yes, both systems can be used in parallel.

Can PLS help me win business?

Yes – in lots of ways! With PLS, you can improve the service dedicated to your customers and prepare additional offers for them. At the same time, you can make your processes more efficient. Last but not least, you will look like a modern company, using all the latest technologies.

 

Can PLS be integrated into my customer app?

Yes, PLS is seamlessly integrated into your app. We provide your programmers with an appropriate API. You can also find PLS app demos in the Apple and Android Appstore.

 

How does the PLS application deals with user data?

In the case of localization, an ID is assigned to each user, which is reassigned from the system after his logout. In this respect, no user data is stored permanently.

 

Installation and set-up of PLS

What is the optimal number of receivers for my location?

We recommend to use six to ten receivers depending on the size and complexity of your location to make sure that devices are precisely located everywhere in the room. Receivers should be placed without any obstacles nearby to guarantee a free line of sight between them and the PLS puck or smartphone.

Where are the receivers placed?

You have the possibility to mount the receivers non-intrusively either to the wall or the ceiling of your location. There will not be any infrastructure at your shop equipment or restaurant tables. You should consider beforehand, if you are allowed to drill holes into the walls or ceilings at the respective places.

How are the receivers powered?

You can plug the receivers via Power over Ethernet (POE) or via classic 5V power supply. Please make sure that you have the necessary socket or POE connection available nearby.

How are the receivers connected to the network?

In order to establish a connection between the receivers and the master station, you can choose between LAN and WLAN. We recommend a combination of LAN and POE for power supply for highest precision and fast synchronization!

Can I use the PLS system outdoors?

Yes, it is possible to use our system on your outdoor terrace as well. The receivers are to be mounted to the walls in this case.

Can I use the PLS on a multilevel location?

Yes, this is also possible. PLS may calculate the distance between receivers and the device in question letting you know, if a puck or smartphone is on the first or second floor of your location.

Which OS do I need for the software?

The software is compatible with Windows and Linux.

 

How complex is the configuration of PLS?

After installing the receiver (PLS receiver) a one-time configuration is required, which takes only few minutes to complete. The transmitters (pucks or smartphones) do not need to be configured and can be used immediately upon the first movements in the room.

 

Do you have more questions that are not on this list?

Contact us directly! sales@pyramid.de