Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A Wi-Fi that Knows Where You Are

There's a lot of buzz around "smart home" products and the convenience of advanced automation and mobile connectivity. However, new research may soon be able to add extra emphasis on "smart" by enhancing wireless technology with greater awareness. A team at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has developed a system that enables a single wireless access point to accurately locate users down to a tenth of a meter, without any added sensors.

Wireless networks are good at quickly identifying devices that come within range. Once you link several access points together, it becomes possible to zero in on someone's position by triangulation. But this new wireless technology – dubbed "Chronos" – is capable of 20 times the accuracy of existing localization methods. Through experiments led by Professor Dina Katabi, Chronos has been shown to correctly distinguish individuals inside a store from those outside up to 97 percent of the time, which would make it easier for free Wi-Fi in coffee shops to be a customer-only affair, for example.

A paper on the research was recently presented at the USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI '16).  more