Improving outdoor positioning in mobile devices using anomalies in the Earth magnetic field

Summary of the technology

Outdoor localisation system based on magnetic landmarks – magnetic anomalies that distort the expected geomagnetic field due to strong local magnetic fields, oftentimes originated by fixed man-made structures. This technology proposes to leverage those landmarks as signatures for localisation purposes.

Instituto de Telecomunicações


The most common systems for outdoor positioning use GNSS (e.g. GPS) and/or inertial data. Satellite-based solutions have strong limitations (e.g. large positioning errors or outages) in multipath environments and non-line-of-sight conditions to the satellites, such as urban canyons, tunnels and underground parking. They are often combined with other sources of information to complement them, such as inertial sensors. Nonetheless, inertial data systemsapplydead reckoning and present cumulative errors. The quality of the sensors has a high impact on the accuracy of the estimation, however, it strongly influences their price as well.

Magnetic information is frequently used in combination with other inertial data for orientation purposes in navigation systems and vehiclelocalisation. The present technology uses magnetic landmarks created by magnetic anomalies that distort the expected magnetic field, often man-made structures. This technology results in alocalisation system that works in locations where satellite-based solutions are not available or not not accurate enough. This new method can be integrated as a module to improve the robustness, availability and accuracy of alocalisation system, improving its resilience to disturbances in GPS or cumulative errors.

The main outcomes of this new technology are: 1) a method for detecting magnetic anomalies; 2) a system for collecting and saving classified instances for reference; 3) an algorithm that matches input magnetic anomalies to the known stored references, both for complete and partial time series.


Geolocalisation systems demanding high performances:

  • Traffic navigation in intricate scenarios (e.g. city centers, tunnels, multiple layer paths and intersections)
  • Emergency assistance
  • Civil protection


PORTABILITY: the invention uses a mobile device equipped with inertial sensors and magnetometer to detect and match magnetic anomalies to references, providing location data.

GREAT IMPROVEMENT TO CURRENT LOCALISATION SYSTEMS: the technology can be modularly combined with existinglocalisation solutions:

  • ­Higher robustness
  • ­Higher accuracy
  • ­Higher availability


TRL 2 - The concept has been established


  • Joint research and development
  • Research on demand


Instituto de Telecomunicaçõesseeks partners within geolocalisation/georeferencing markets, aswell asnavigation systems providers.


International patentapplication (PCT/IB2021/051316) - prioritydate:18-02-2020 - SOLD







Intellectual property status

  • Patent already applied for
  • Patent application number :PCT/IB2020/056026

Attached documents

Related Keywords

  • Electronics, IT and Telecomms
  • IT and Telematics Applications
  • Applications for Transport and Logistics
  • Telecommunications, Networking
  • SatelliteTechnology/Systems/Positioning/Communication in GPS - Global Positioning System
  • Communications
  • Data Communications
  • Other Communications Related
  • Electronics Related Market
  • Electronics Related Equipment
  • Consumer related
  • Consumer Products
  • Other consumer products

About Instituto de Telecomunicações

Instituto de Telecomunicações (IT) is a private, not-for-profit organization, of public interest, a partnership of nine institutions with research and development in the field of Telecommunications

IT mission is to create and disseminate scientific knowledge in the field of telecommunications.

IT is actively involved in fundamental and applied research both at national and international levels. Simultaneously it is committed to foster higher education and training, by hosting and tutoring graduate and postgraduate students. it also plays its role towards public society with public awareness initiatives, knowledge transfer to industry, and by providing consulting services on a non-competing basis.

Maria João Cardoso

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