Wednesday 27 April 2016

MIT's new Chronos System Promises Precise Wi-Fi Tracking


Chronos – Wireless Localization Technology

Several users tend to use Wi-Fi to browse social media, check emails and watch videos. However according to Dan Misener, Radio technology columnist, researchers at MIT have invented something known as Chronos which is the latest way of using Wi-Fi in tracking the exact position down to the centimetre. Chronos is a `wireless localization’ technology or a Wi-Fi positioning system and is essentially a method of utilising Wi-Fi in figuring out where you are.

There are various means of doing this though Chronos tends to work by measuring the time it may take for a signal to travel from one wireless device to another device. For instance, if you have a smartphone and it is connected to a wireless router, the router tends to send information to the phone. The phone receives the same and then sends back a signal.

On measuring the time taken and by applying some calculation to the signal, one can determine where the smartphone is with regards to the router, the distance and the angle. In many ways, it tends to be the same way how radar or sonar systems seem to work. Chronos could be considered as a way to turn a regular Wi-Fi router into a kind of radar system which can distinguish objects and where they could be in the world.

Difference is Accuracy

The big difference is the accuracy. Customers-grade GPS tend to pinpoint you within a few metres distance but Chronos system tends to locate you within tens of centimetres. Moreover there are instances where GPS sometimes does not function at all like in underground or when one is indoors. Chronos tends to work anywhere within a Wi-Fi router range.

There are various other Wi-Fi based location system and are often utilised in airports, hotels and shopping mall to track foot traffic. U.S. malls tend to use shopper’s cell phones to track them, but those systems need several access point and many routers to cover a large area and triangulate the location of someone.

The distinctive thing regarding Chronos is that it only needs a single access point, a single router and one can set this up at home or a small business without incurring much expense.

Utilised in Locating Lost Device within the Home

The researchers have also informed that Chronos tends to be 20 times more accurate than the prevailing systems. One reason for using it in home is `home automation’ wherein there is a rise of the smart homes which tends to respond to who is in them.

Hence knowing who is at home and where people are within a home could be useful information. In a demonstration, the researchers had shown how Chronos tends to accurately identify which room a person was in 94% of the time. This device could also be utilised in locating a lost device within the home which could be helpful whenever a phone or a tablet would be misplaced.

Chronos can be used in controlling who gets to access the Wi-Fi, which could be useful for small businesses. Deepak Vasisht, one of the MIT researchers had informed at last month’s symposium, that if one walks into a Starbucks, they tend to get free Wi-Fi, but if one talks to them, they inform that they are very much keen in restricting free Wi-Fi access only to their customers and do not want to give free Wi-Fi to their neighbours which could end up causing congestion for their own customers. Hence a coffee shop could use Chronos to cut off Wi-Fi freeloaders.

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