Wi-Fi is commonly used for the transmission of data and is a great alternative to be used indoors when GPS capabilities are limited.
Each Wi-Fi access point relays data to allow users to access the internet. Wi-Fi positioning can take advantage of the signals emitted from Wi-Fi routers to gain some insights into the users location.
When a Wi-Fi router sends a wireless signal, Wi-Fi receivers (e.g., smartphones) can accept those signals. Each signal contains some metadata which can be processed and used to determine the users’ location. Wi-Fi Metadata:
The MAC address is unique for each Wi-Fi router and the RSS provides a rough measurement of how far away the device is. Intuitively, a strong RSS would show that the user is close to that Wi-Fi router and a weak RSS would indicate that the user is far from the Wi-Fi router.
There are two main ways Wi-Fi MAC address and RSS can be used for positioning. The first is Wi-Fi trilateration and the second is Wi-Fi fingerprinting.
Wi-Fi trilateration requires knowledge of the location of each Wi-Fi router. Then, based on the RSS, it estimates a distance between the user and each visible Wi-Fi router and calculates its position based on those distances.
Wi-Fi fingerprinting does not need to know the locations of the Wi-Fi routers but instead creates a large fingerprint map of what the RSS of each MAC address looks like at various locations and then in real-time compares the measured RSS to the fingerprint map to determine the users position.
While Wi-Fi is one of the most popular technologies ever, there are still many challenges users face when using it for indoor positioning.
Challenges with the technology:
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