Wi-Fi Location

Accurate indoor location with Wi-Fi® connectivity

Location is inextricably linked with mobility. Consumers want to know where they are and what is around them, whether indoors or outside. Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Location™ delivers meter-level accuracy indoors. Wi-Fi Location-enabled networks and devices work together to deliver accurate location information with the benefits of Wi-Fi connectivity and without the need for separate, location-based infrastructure or costly maintenance.

Wi-Fi Location-enabled devices help network managers, operating systems developers, and applications developers deliver enhanced location data-driven apps and services. Wi-Fi Location certification ensures standards-based interoperability of devices so that developers can provide users the same experiences indoors as they have come to expect outside.

Location beyond navigation

Wi-Fi Location allows self-locating APs to establish accurate indoor locations and enable 6 GHz standard power applications. By using FTM Range Request and Report, client devices can determine their location relative to the broadcasting APs without sharing any information, thus providing great accuracy without compromising privacy. Wi-Fi Location not only improves the accuracy of location data for navigation purposes, it enables the creation of new, feature-rich applications and services. Wi-Fi is pervasive and it is easy to leverage the existing network infrastructure without additional equipment to enable accurate indoor location. Wi-Fi Location benefits industrial, enterprise, retail, and healthcare markets through:

  • Indoor navigation: Wi-Fi Location is accurate to below one meter and provides several updates per second
  • Asset management: Tracking high-value mobile equipment
  • Network management: Pinpointing where troubleshooting and maintenance is needed
  • Geo-fencing: Creating virtual perimeters that trigger actions when devices move in or out of the boundary
  • Self-locating APs: Wi-Fi Location allows self-locating APs to establish accurate indoor locations and enable 6 GHz standard power applications
  • Emergency services: Wi-Fi Location’s ability to locate using civic address as well as floor number has the potential to aid emergency service response time

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Wi-Fi Location coexist better with a Wi-Fi data service and ensure quality of service compared to other localization technologies?

A localization service is part of a larger connectivity service. By using the Wi-Fi network to provide location services, native co-existence is achieved between the location and core data connectivity service. This kind of native support results in an ability to maintain the QoS of the data service, while ensuring the performance and accuracy of the location service.

How do environmental factors affect Location accuracy?

The environment can play a role, and introduce multipath, which may cause the range to be overestimated. This includes building materials, the presence of RF reflectors such as HVAC metal ducting, and some eco-glass designed to reflect the sun’s rays, but also reflects RF. Often these effects are transitory for a mobile device, and a typical motion filter will remove them from the estimated path.

How does the Wi-Fi channel bandwidth affect location precision?

Location precision is inversely proportional to bandwidth. If an 80 MHz channel bandwidth results in a location precision of 1 meter, then for a 160 MHz bandwidth channel, the precision will be roughly 0.5 meters.

At what rate can Wi-Fi Locations be estimated to support indoor navigation?

This depends on the implementation, but there are commercial examples of devices that can range to 6 access points at 2-3 Hz. When combined with digital maps, this results in a smooth turn-by-turn navigation experience. The ranging rate when multiple devices are positioning at the same time will also affect network utilization and needs to be considered when a network deployment is being planned.

What are the network infrastructure benefits of accurate Wi-Fi Location?

For the Wi-Fi infrastructure venue owner, Wi-Fi Location provides a valuable additional user-facing location service (see "What are the primary uses of Wi-Fi Location?” for examples), with no additional operational cost, and may even save running costs by helping the owner maintain their network, locating access points after site remodels.

What are the mobile client benefits of accurate Wi-Fi Location?

Wi-Fi Location enables a mobile client to determine its location to an accuracy of about 1 meter (at 80 MHz bandwidth), when operating within a Wi-Fi network. There is no additional hardware cost, or any significant impact on battery lifetime.

What is the value of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Location?

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Location ensures a Wi-Fi product conforms to the IEEE standard with respect to the FTM protocol and can operate within the accuracy expected for range estimation. Positioning and applications, such as indoor navigation, can be supported when all participating devices have certification.          

What is the difference between ranging and location?

Wi-Fi ranging estimates the distance between two devices using the FTM protocol. When three or more ranges to nearby access points at known positions are combined, the mobile device can estimate its own location (or position) on a map.

What are the primary uses of Wi-Fi Location?

Wi-Fi Location can be used where GPS cannot. A typical location-based application is positioning and route finding inside a building (aka indoor navigation), allowing users to be directed to a specific place, thing, or product. It also enables proximity applications, which include wireless keys/locks, smart home control (actions triggered by relative positions of devices), and access-control to digital resources based on location.

What is the difference between Wi-Fi Aware and Wi-Fi Location?

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Location™ is used for determining device location within a network by finding and connecting to access points, whereas Wi-Fi Aware is about connecting directly to other devices to publish and advertise information and services without an access point. Wi-Fi Location™ and Wi-Fi Aware can be utilized for similar uses, such as geo-fencing or personalized shopping, but Wi-Fi Location is meant to operate within Wi-Fi infrastructure to deliver precise location determination. Wi-Fi Aware is focused on connecting devices within an area of proximity without a network infrastructure.

How does Wi-Fi Location determine a mobile client device’s location?

Wi-Fi Location uses the time-of-flight (ToF) of IEEE 802.11 frames to locate a device within a network (also called round-trip-time (RTT)). It is based on the Fine Timing Measurement (FTM) protocol, enabling a mobile device to estimate its distance relative to one or more fixed position Wi‑Fi access points (APs) in the network. The mobile device can then combine these measurements, and locate itself on a floorplan, map or in latitude and longitude coordinates.

Does my client device need to be associated with an access point on a network to determine location?

No, using Wi-Fi Location, a client device can negotiate with an access point (AP) to determine its location even when the client device is not associated with that AP.

Must both client and network devices be Wi-Fi Location enabled for Wi-Fi Location to work?

Yes, both client and network infrastructure devices must be Wi-Fi Location enabled to support positioning.

How many infrastructure devices are needed to accurately determine a device’s location?

To determine its location on a map, a mobile client device must use a minimum of three distance measurements to nearby access points at known positions, a process called trilateration. However, more distance measurements to additional access points improves location accuracy, and typically avoids inaccuracies introduced by poor access point layout.

Is Wi-Fi Location power efficient?

Yes. Wi-Fi Location minimizes its impact on client battery life by allowing a device to negotiate the scheduling, and operational parameters, for a Fine Timing Measurement (FTM) protocol exchange. A single RF distance measurement can be completed in as little as 0.5 milliseconds.

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