MIT researchers have created a way to make Wi-Fi signals really accurate (and creepy)

MIT researchers have created a way to make Wi-Fi signals really accurate (and creepy)

Wi-Fi could soon have a very detailed geofence, if MIT researchers have their way. They’ve introduced a new project named ‘Chronos’ that helps Wi-Fi signals locate you within “tens of centimeters.”

The team managed this by monitoring several Wi-Fi bands, then cobbling the data together to find out how long a signal takes to find the end user. In knowing the time and distance it takes for a Wi-Fi signal to travel, MIT can create advanced geofencing.

In an experiment, MIT tracked users in a two bedroom apartment, and found Chronos could correctly identify the location of those users 94 percent of the time. It was 97 percent accurate in determining people in a store versus those outside on the sidewalk.

The technology can also be applied in reverse; a drone equipped with ‘Chronos’ would know not to run into its owner, but could come as close as possible. It uses endpoints like smartphones as reference points, so it could also be used to freeze individuals out of a company’s Wi-Fi network.

Similarly, this technology could prove useful with drone deliveries; if the drone was aware of your home’s Wi-Fi network — which was geofenced to the perimeter of your home — it could deliver your goods on your doorstep. It’s also reasonable to imagine creating a drone delivery zone with Chronos.

MIT says Chronos is 20 times more accurate than existing systems, and computes signal “time of flight” in roughly 0.47 nanoseconds.

Chronos can’t be applied to existing tech, though. MIT’s hardware cycles through Wi-Fi bands in such a way that existing routers just can’t, so we’ll have to hope this one catches on in a big way soon.

Wireless tech means safer drones, smarter homes and password-free WiFi on MIT

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