Blog skyhook logo What is Wi-Fi Positioning?

Jan 14, 2021 9:00:00 AM

What is Wi-Fi Positioning?

Posted by Oleg Kamenetsky

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Wi-Fi positioning is a location technique that uses characteristics of wireless access points (APs) to position connected devices. By knowing the ground truth of APs and the signal strength detected by Wi-Fi enabled devices, this approach can provide accurate and precise location simply by listening to AP signals without connecting to Wi-Fi networks.
This location approach has several major advantages:
  • It can work in areas where satellite positioning systems are unreliable, such as in dense urban areas and indoors
  • It uses existing Wi-Fi infrastructure to work, without any additional hardware installation, making it an extremely affordable option as well as an accurate one.
  • Accuracy can improve as more access points are added, for indoor and outdoor location use cases.

How Accurate is Wi-Fi Positioning? 

The accuracy depends on the number of APs that are observed and the environment in which they are deployed. Assuming that the ground truth of APs is precise, as the number of APs increases in a given area, the more accurate the location results will be. It’s even possible to crowd-source existing Wi-Fi infrastructure to achieve sub-20 meter accuracy.
Wi-Fi positioning provides instant-on capabilities which gives businesses the option to improve accuracy based on use case requirements. A simple survey to map the precise locations of all Wi-Fi APs within a facility will improve the positioning accuracy of the system. If further accuracy is required, companies have the option to deploy additional Wi-Fi access points within their facilities. While this does represent an additional expense, it does not require the customer to learn, deploy, and maintain yet another technology within their infrastructure. This can be accomplished as part of a general Wi-Fi infrastructure improvement project or by simply adding additional Wi-Fi access points in areas that require additional positional accuracy.

What are the Benefits of Wi-Fi Positioning? 

By taking advantage of access points in close proximity to a Wi-Fi enabled device, this positioning method can be a great solution in most environments, including indoors and dense urban areas. This provides a distinct benefit over more traditional positioning techniques like GPS, which tends to perform most reliably outdoors and in environments that are free of blockage caused by obstructions like tall buildings, bridges, and trees.
Additionally, Wi-Fi positioning works on devices that don’t have a GPS chipset. This reduces the cost required to manufacture a device, and enables a location method that requires less power, and helps prolong device life. Since many facilities already have Wi-Fi networks installed, this positioning solution doesn’t require any additional hardware or system maintenance. If additional accuracy is required, the Wi-Fi positioning infrastructure can be scaled with little to no manual intervention. For instance, implementing Wi-Fi positioning in 25 warehouses compared to manually deploying BLE beacons or RFID in 25 warehouses saves time and resources. 

Getting Started with Wi-Fi Positioning 

Wi-Fi positioning is a cost-effective, scalable, and accurate solution for any connected device across a variety of industries. To learn how to use Wi-Fi positioning, check out this blog we wrote. If you’re interested in getting started with Wi-Fi positioning today, talk to one of our location experts. 
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