Where Is Everybody? The Wireless Network Might Know?

For most people, Wi-Fi networks are useful for doing work in coffee shops or allowing computers to share an Internet connection at home. But for Iris Junglas and several other researchers, wireless networks are also capable of keeping tabs on wandering computer users. The system was not without problems, however. Sometimes a hand-held computer would link to the network through a base station that was directly below the room where its user was standing. The database map would show the user on the wrong floor. To solve that problem, the system developed by Dr. Smailagic and others takes a different and slightly more complex approach. Rather than mapping the relationship between a computer and a single access point, it compares the strength of the computer’s Wi-Fi card signal to that of three base stations. With this information, the system can then use triangulation to calculate and map the computer’s location.