WLAN leads the way

Feb 05, 2008

Wireless radio networks not only provide convenient access to the Internet; they also help pedestrians to reliably navigate through narrow city streets or buildings. Fraunhofer researchers and partners are currently demonstrating how this works in Nuremberg, where the first WLAN localization test environment was launched in January. The system will also be presented at CeBIT in Hanover on March 4 through 9.

Finding your way around a new city can often be a problem. Where’s the nearest Thai restaurant? Is there a pharmacy nearby? How can I call a taxi if I’m not sure which street I’m in? A new system provides support in the form of autonomous WLAN localization via PDA or smartphone. Additional services can then supply further information, for example on restaurants and pharmacies in the vicinity, or you can order a taxi to pick you up from your current location.

Car drivers can usually rely on GPS to guide them to their destinations. However, when it comes to steering pedestrians through narrow city centers, buildings or subway areas, the satellite-based system is not sufficiently accurate. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS therefore use wireless local area networks (WLANs) to determine the user’s position.

“We are taking advantage of the fact that most cities are very well equipped with WLAN networks, and that an increasing number of cell phones are capable of using them,” explains Jürgen Hupp, head of the Communication Networks Department at the IIS. Nuremberg is the perfect example: Its city center has an average of 2000 WLAN transmitters per square kilometer. “This enables an average positioning accuracy of three meters inside buildings and ten meters outside,” explains Hupp.

Any spot within a city or a building can be clearly identified on the basis of received signal strengths from several WLAN base stations. The first task is therefore to take measurements at various different reference points. This information is stored on a central server and can be downloaded onto a mobile terminal together with a map of the city or a particular public facility. In order to continuously locate their position, users need to install special software on their PDA or smartphone.

This localization algorithm autonomously calculates the user’s current position. “Due to the system’s autonomous approach, positioning information is only available on the terminal. This means that the user can’t be located from outside,” stresses Hupp. The system takes both commercial hot spots and private WLAN transmitters into account. However, it does not require logging into or accessing the data network. Users can decide for themselves whether to apply the localization function for their own orientation purposes only, or whether to use additional service offers such as the taxi call option or the pharmacy finder.

In order to allow companies to enhance their location based services by including WLAN-localization, the IIS has made the technology available in Nuremberg within an area of 25 square kilometers. New location-based services are currently being tested under realistic conditions. Since January the open testbed consortium has been implementing recent applications such as the smart taxi call function. Initial partners include Müller Medien and its subsidiaries IT2media, Map and Route, as well as T-Systems, Gaschba, cruso AG and VAG Nuremberg. “The results of this large-scale test will serve as a basis for the planned standardization of interfaces for the WLAN positioning system and for local services,” says Hupp, stating one of the project’s objectives.

Source: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

Explore further: Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NYU-Poly professors win Google Faculty Research Awards

Oct 17, 2013

Two faculty members from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) are among the latest recipients of the Google Faculty Research Awards—one-year grants supporting cutting-edge research ...

Recommended for you

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

10 minutes ago

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

1 hour ago

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.

Dish Network denies wrongdoing in $2M settlement

11 hours ago

The state attorney general's office says Dish Network Corp. will reimburse Washington state customers about $2 million for what it calls a deceptive surcharge, but the satellite TV provider denies any wrongdoing.

Netflix's Comcast deal improves quality of video

Apr 14, 2014

Netflix's videos are streaming through Comcast's Internet service at their highest speeds in the past 17 months now that Netflix is paying for a more direct connection to Comcast's network.

New research on gigabit wireless communications

Apr 10, 2014

Research on gigabit wireless communications has been presented by researchers from the University of Bristol at the world's leading wireless communications and networking conference, IEEE WCNC 2014, in Turkey ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.