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Indoor navigation using Wi-Fi

Navigine - Indoor navigation using Wi-Fi
05 JAN 2021 · 13 MIN

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.


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 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 (Sep 2021) 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.


The exact location detection using Wi-Fi is becoming more and more actual against the development of numerous mobile applications for monitoring the position of valuable assets and persons at enterprises. The choice in favor of the Wi-Fi positioning technology has resulted from its advantages:

  • already installed Wi-Fi infrastructure could be used;
  • no necessity in additional equipment and infrastructure maintenance;
  • using a wide range of different types of existing Wi-Fi access points;
  • possibility to scale practically without manual intervention;
  • long signal range – up to 150 m;
  • possibility to combine with other positioning technologies for improving accuracy and flexible deployment.

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


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.

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.

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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.


Wi-Fi can be successfully implemented in indoor positioning at large administrative buildings. The 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.


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.

Navigine -
Elvina Sharafutdinova