Practical Robust Localization over Large-Scale 802.11 Wireless Networks

A. Haeberlen, E. Flannery, A. M. Ladd, A. Rudys, D. S. Wallach, and L. E. Kavraki, “Practical Robust Localization over Large-Scale 802.11 Wireless Networks,” in Proceedings of the Tenth ACM International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking (MOBICOM 2004), Philadelphia, PA, 2004, pp. 70–84.


We demonstrate a system built using probabilistic techniques that allows for remarkably accurate localization across our entire office building using nothing more than the built-in signal intensity meter supplied by standard 802.11 cards. While prior systems have required significant investments of human labor to build a detailed signal map, we can train our system by spending less than one minute per office or region, walking around with a laptop and recording the observed signal intensities of our building’s unmodified base stations. We actually collected over two minutes of data per office or region, about 28 man-hours of effort. Using less than half of this data to train the localizer, we can localize a user to the precise, correct location in over 95% of our attempts, across the entire building. Even in the most pathological cases, we almost never localize a user any more distant than to the neighboring office. A user can obtain this level of accuracy with only two or three signal intensity measurements, allowing for a high frame rate of localization results. Furthermore, with a brief calibration period, our system can be adapted to work with previously unknown user hardware. We present results demonstrating the robustness of our system against a variety of untrained time-varying phenomena, including the presence or absence of people in the building across the day. Our system is sufficiently robust to enable a variety of location-aware applications without requiring special-purpose hardware or complicated training and calibration procedures.