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Indoors Mapping Using WiFi Routers

  • R Kailash, Thanga Manickam M, T Sai Chandra Mouli, Sai Phani P
  • Navigating unknown and unmapped terrain used to be very difficult. With the advent of satellite imagery and technologies like
    Google Maps - virtually mapping all of the earth - navigation through areas that are photographed is now very easy. However, a slight problem still exists. Satellite imagery can and will identify buildings but cannot map their interiors. This is a problem as most of the general public find themselves in situations where they need to find our way through large buildings and without a provided map, they are clueless. If the building/infrastructure were aerially open, then they can use SatNav in the area to navigate. However, if the building is not aerially open, and say we need to find the office of a particular person in a huge building, then we are helpless.

    Instead of statically mapping the infrastructure and giving out hand-out maps, it is much better if we can dynamically figure out where we are as we move along. GPS seems to be the go-to solution in this case. However, the problem with GPS is that it is very difficult to gain GPS lock from inside a building - even if obtained, it isn’t precise/powerful enough to be
    dynamically mapped.
    Our solution involves using WiFi routers which are placed throughout the building (as is usually the case with huge office buildings) which act as location beacons, helping triangulate the position of the user. We hard-code location based information within the router, which along with the SSID - will act as the location beacon - constantly broadcasting the location
    information. All that the user has to do is turn on the WiFi on their phone.

     

    Once this is done, our app will scan the available WiFi networks. At this point the user is asked to identify ONE of the many shown networks which appears to be a Location Beacon. Based on its signature, all other beacon routers which are in the vicinity of the phone are located and based on their individual signal strengths, the approximate position of the user can be
    calculated. A “map” layout of the floor/building is contained in each router, which can be used to load the entire map, and then this map can be used to track the user’s whereabouts. If we get a signal lock-on at least 3 different beacons, then using all three, we will be able to triangulate the user’s position with considerable accuracy. This way, when the user
    moves, the signal strength changes and new beacons are read. All this information can be used to dynamically map where the user is at the given moment.

  • Convenience: A guest in a huge industrial complex/building who finds it
    nigh impossible to navigate through the huge complex.
    Dynamic Nature: Handout maps need not be printed and issued to the
    visitors to a huge building at the entrance anymore. Navigating with a static
    map is cumbersome
    A corporate company whose buildings span entire grounds who are in
    desperate need of mapping their interiors without much effort on their
    behalf

  • Validation of the problem statement:
    Q) Do you face this problem?
    Yes. In many ways. Whenever we enter a huge building of another college (say, for a hackathon, or visiting a theme park) we often find ourselves clueless and have to depend on asking multiple people for directions along the way

    Q) Can you think of anybody who will face this issue?
    Any person who travels to multiple places visiting multiple complexes or industrial areas or colleges (say a travelling marketing professional, a hackathon participant, an exchange student) will face this issue

     

    Q) If you did, could you narrate any personal experience with this problem?
    We went to the JU hackathon held at Jain University, Bangalore and faced huge trouble locating the administrative building for registration. We were given a handout map at the welcome desk which was completely useless as it conflicted with the reallocation of places many times.

     

    Q) Are existing solutions not good enough?
    Currently, solutions all revolve around using GPS tech. But it does have its own limitations and vivid mapping of interiors is nigh impossible with GPS signal faltering in the interiors of the building.

    Q) What kind of solution do you expect to solve this problem? Any non-intrusive solution will be good. Any solution that does not involve a lot of work on the user’s behalf.

     

     

  • Before - Navigating through huge complexes, colleges, theme parks and
    infrastructure is very very tiring and cumbersome. The handout map
    provided to you is pretty much useless in most cases. You have to depend
    on word of mouth of many people throughout the campus, in order to
    (maybe) reach your destination
    After - You can simply use your phone with the WiFi turned on to detect the
    nearby networks, which work under a new standard of operations that will
    support the mapping feature. This way, your location is dynamically
    mapped navigation through the building is made much much simpler than
    before.

November 14, 2019

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