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Wi-Fi Positioning

Does Wi-Fi have the capability to provide accurate indoor positioning?

About Wi-Fi Positioning Technology

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.

How Wi-Fi Positioning Works?

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:

  • MAC address (unique ID for the router)
  • RSS (Received Signal Strength)

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.

Wi-Fi Trilateration and Wi-Fi Fingerprinting

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.

Challenges with Wi-Fi Positioning

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:

  • iOS devices have restricted access to scan for Wi-Fi
  • Android data through the Wi-Fi network can be limited for scanning
  • Accuracy alone is not sufficient for indoor positioning (10-15 meters)
  • Wi-Fi signals propagate through various walls and obstacles leading to high signal variance and ambiguity which makes it difficult to extract distance

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Mapsted’s IPS Eliminates The Need For External Hardware.

  • All-in-one IPS
    The technical limitations of other indoor navigation technologies can't deliver what Mapsted's patented core technology does - a highly accurate and cost- effective stand-alone indoor positioning system.
  • Eliminate extra costs
    Other indoor positioning systems require the use of expensive external hardware and costly maintenance.
  • No external hardware
    Instead of relying on external hardware for location- based needs, Mapsted technology pulls from a huge variety of data sources to create a powerful and accurate indoor positioning system.
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