Navigating technology: Using satellites to determine your position only works outside. A new approach is needed indoors. Dec. 1st, 2012.
A more promising approach may be to use signals from mobile-phone networks and Wi-Fi hotspots. Smartphones already have the necessary radio receivers to pick up these signals, which have the added benefit of being most common precisely in places where pedestrians get lost: in airports, malls and city centres. Unlike GPS, though, these signals do not contain positional information. As a result, a labour-intensive survey is required to take a digital fingerprint of the relative strengths of the wireless signals present at multiple points within each venue. Software on a smartphone then consults this online database to calculate the phone’s location to within five or ten metres. This is the approach used by many companies including Skyhook, based in Boston, and by Wifarer, based in San Jose.
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