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MIT’s New Research Technology Lets Single WiFi Access Points Detect Users Position

Wi-Fi has been one of our main concerns when we move out, it is very common to see customers in a café rushing towards the counter for Wi-Fi pass. Now just think about this what if the Wi-Fi tries to find us instead of the vice versa, this would not just make latching on to a network easy but also increases the level of security.

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MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab has enabled a single WiFi access point that would find the users within a certain radius. The researchers claim that this might be a very safe network for interconnected devices inclusive of smart homes, safer drones and most importantly a password free WiFi.

Professor Dina Katabi, leads the team and the research paper exhibits a system called Chronos which as we said earlier will enable a single point WiFi that will locate the users within tens of centimetres, sans the need of external sensors. The researchers demonstrated the Chronos at a café and also showed off a drone that could maintain a certain distance from its users.

What we need to understand here is that the Chronos is more inclined towards accurately detecting the users position and this could probably open up a slew of new avenues for interaction and analytics. The experiment showed off how the system was accurate for most of the times, 97% to be precise and it also could distinguish between actual customers in the café and the intruders from the outside. This is an excellent feature as it would help the small businesses detect and kick the intruders out of their network.

The modus operandi of Chronos seems to be quite simple and yet effective, the system uses a concept called “time-of-flight” which will take into account the time taken for the data to travel from the user to the access point and vice versa. Researchers claim that the system is 20x more efficient than the current systems at place and the average error tallies up to just 0.47 nanoseconds.

Currently the localisation methods needs the network to have four to five WiFi access points and this along with the triangulation of multiple angles with respect to the person will be used to determine someone’s position. What Chronos does to minimise the bandwidth consumption is that it jumps from frequency to frequency and gathers the measurements, the result is blended together to determine the distance.

On the contrary the method still has some scope for improvements as the indoor WiFi signals can bounce off and thus disturb the time of flight algorithm greatly. Adding to this is the fact that every time Chronos hops from one bandwidth to another it resets itself with a delay called as “phase offset” and the team is already using the acknowledgements to cancel out the phase offsets, but it still exists in smaller degrees.




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