Indoor positioning and navigation using Wi-Fi

Navigine - Indoor positioning and navigation using Wi-Fi
05 JAN 2021 · 15 MIN

Last update 01 SEP 2022

In recent years Wi-Fi positioning system (WPS) has found more and more applications in many spheres. It is used not only outside but also inside buildings where GPS navigation can’t work properly because of signal blocking, the multiplicity of paths, and some other reasons. Wi-Fi provides the exact location of objects and persons, which helps to optimize business processes and increase the company’s profit.

HOW WI-FI LOCATION SYSTEM WORKS

The wireless indoor positioning system works by defining coordinates using Wi-Fi access points that can transmit certain data. Using the RSSI (received signal strength indicator) and MAC-address, the system can define exactly the current location of the user’s device using the multilateration approach.

The accuracy of Wi-Fi positioning depends on the number of access points, the topology of the building, and the smartphone type. Modern Android-based smartphones could provide indoor positioning as precise as 2 - 3 m.

Wi-Fi location sysem uses the entire Wi-Fi infrastructure that includes not only Wi-Fi routers, but also phones, tablets. By employing Wi-Fi access points, the system can easily define any Wi-Fi-powered devices' location and monitor their movement inside the building.

ADVANTAGES OF INDOOR NAVIGATION USING WI-FI

The exact location detection using Wi-Fi is becoming more and more important for enterprises, warehouses and other business, as there is a growing need to monitor position and movement of valuable assets by using special indoor positioning platforms, such as various tracking systems and indoor navigation mobile applications. Wi-Fi positioning technology can provide numerous benefits for enterprises due to its following advantages:

  • already installed Wi-Fi infrastructure can be used for indoor positioning;
  • there is no necessity in additional equipment and infrastructure maintenance;
  • the system can use a wide range of different types of existing Wi-Fi access points;
  • there is a possibility to scale the system without manual intervention;
  • the system can have a long signal range – up to 150 m;
  • the system works fine with other positioning technologies for improving accuracy and a more flexible deployment.

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Wi-Fi POSITIONING SYSTEM LIMITATIONS

Wi-Fi RSSI-based positioning works well for Android devices. However with the latest Android version (see table below) there are some changes that limit Wi-Fi scanning capabilities.

Unfortunately, it is not possible now (Aug 2022) to use Wi-Fi for indoor positioning on iPhones/iPads as Apple prevents applications from getting Wi-Fi environment data due to privacy concerns.

OS version Wi-Fi Scanning Frequency Wi-Fi Throttling Pure Wi-Fi Positioning Accuracy Indoor positioning accuracy (Wi-Fi + inertial sensors)
Any iOS device N/A N/A N/A N/A
Android 8 and earlier 1 sec - 3-5 m 2-3m
Android 9 4 times / 2 min + 10-30 m 8-15 m
Android 10 4 times / 2 min +/- 10-30 m 8-15 m
Android 11 4 times / 2 min +/- 10-30 m 8-15 m

Table 1. Wi-Fi positioning accuracy and scanning limitations.

More information about Wi-Fi throttling could be found in this article How to Avoid WiFi Throttling on Android Devices.

SPHERES OF WI-FI BASED INDOOR POSITIONING AND NAVIGATION APPLICATION

Indoor location-based on Wi-Fi is used in many spheres – from transport and logistics to industry, offices, exhibitions, and museums.

Transport

The technology helps to optimize transport processes and lets passengers quickly find the route to the necessary place inside airports, railway stations. Using this system, it becomes possible to make interactive maps with points of interest, track people’s flows, ensure staff navigation in traffic centers. Constant monitoring of passenger transportation enables to quickly react to changing conditions and improve the quality of passenger services.

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Logistics and warehouses

The companies, which specialize in logistics and warehousing, can use Wi-Fi for positioning order pickers, vehicles, and cargo. The system provides detailed information on asset location and helps to automate many warehousing operations. Thanks to the constant navigation of the warehouse staff, it is possible to adjust daily tasks in real-time, increase efficiency, and timely react to emergencies.

Industry

The Wi-Fi indoor navigation system is an optimal means of positioning moving objects at industrial enterprises. Its implementation allows solving many important tasks:

  • increase staff safety;
  • reduce costs on vehicle downtime;
  • decrease the number of emergencies;
  • adjust the routes of special vehicles in real-time;
  • perform analytics for making effective management decisions.

Offices

Wi-Fi can be successfully implemented in indoor positioning at large administrative buildings. The wireless system can build step-by-step routes to the required office, send notifications and tips that depend on the person’s location. Thanks to the continuous gathering of information on movements in an office, it’s possible to perform exact analytics and optimize the work of office systems.

Museums and exhibitions

Using Wi-Fi, you can create guides and mobile applications that will improve the performance of exhibitions and museums. The indoor wireless positioning system helps to build interactive maps of halls, develop the easiest and best routes to the required exhibit. The exhibition organizers can collect geodata on visitors and carefully study their behavior to plan expositions rationally.

Navigine offers a precise solution for Wi-Fi positioning systems. With our help, you get an accurate and functional tool for positioning that can be effectively implemented in your mobile applications (Android, iOS).

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Wi-Fi standard is developing, standard IEEE_802.11mc provides new types of measurements that allow to directly measure distance (round trip time, RTT) between transmitter and receiver. More information about using this approach for indoor positioning could be found in our article on how Wi-Fi RTT takes Indoor Positioning to the next level.

 

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Published:
Elvina S.
Marketing Fairy, Navigine CMO
A marketing expert with 7+ years of experience in B2B, responsible for marketing promotion of indoor navigation and positioning services for 5+ years. Elvina is a mastermind for the GTM strategy of Navigine solutions and products
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