This smart router knows your exact location at home

Credit: Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.

Imagine a router in your home that doesn’t just connect you to the internet but knows exactly where you’re sitting, down to the nearest few inches.

This isn’t a scene from a sci-fi movie; it’s a reality being brought to life by researchers from two universities in Madrid, Spain.

The team from Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) and Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) has developed a new kind of router that can pinpoint your mobile phone’s location with incredible accuracy.

Normally, to find out where something is using radio signals, you need three different points to compare signals from, a method called triangulation, which is how GPS in phones works today.

But this new router technology can figure out where you are with just one device.

The secret sauce is a new technology called 802.11az, combined with the use of high-frequency WiFi signals.

This allows the router to not only communicate with your phone but also to determine its location very precisely. The researchers’ prototype can locate a mobile phone up to 7 meters (about 23 feet) away with an astonishing accuracy of less than 3 centimeters (just over an inch).

Beyond traditional WiFi

This technology represents a significant leap beyond traditional WiFi. Instead of just providing internet connectivity, it can accurately track the position of devices within its range.

This is made possible by using WiFi signals that bounce off walls and other obstacles, reaching your phone no matter where it is in the room.

The magic happens at frequencies above 20GHz, much higher than current WiFi standards. These high frequencies are very direct, which means the signals can be aimed very precisely at the phone. This precision is what allows the router to determine your phone’s location so accurately.

The potential applications for this technology are vast. In a factory, for example, it could track the exact position of robots or other equipment without the need for expensive cameras or sensors. This could reduce costs and improve efficiency.

At home, this technology could be used to make smart homes even smarter. Knowing exactly where you are in your house, a smart system could adjust lighting, temperature, and even play music exactly where you want it, all automatically.

The researchers have already built a working prototype using two WiFi devices that emit signals at 60GHz and a specially developed positioning algorithm.

This prototype proves that future routers will be able to locate devices with unprecedented precision.

While the 802.11az technology was still under development at the time of their research, the success of this prototype suggests that we could soon see commercial routers with these advanced positioning capabilities.

This means the next generation of routers might not just connect you to the internet; they’ll know where you are, making your smart home even smarter and opening up new possibilities for automation and efficiency in various industries.

In a world where technology continually blurs the line between digital and physical spaces, this breakthrough represents an exciting step forward, showing just how smart our homes and workplaces could become.

The work was published on the arXiv.