As always, you have ended up losing that important stuff, in your messy bedroom. And now you have to change your Wi-Fi password because somebody is stealing it. Again!! Wouldn’t it be nice if the Wi-Fi were smart enough to protect itself? These things, they always give you a headache, right. Well thankfully, MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence lab (CSAIL) has developed the right pill-CHRONO. By now you must have guessed this is a new technology associated with positioning system (Fine, understood the title tells that).

The currently used indoor tracking system requires at least 3-4 access points, which are generally not present at home or any small place. Chrono uses a single Wi-Fi access point to localize clients within tens of centimeters. It is basically a Wi-Fi radio which emulates a wideband multi GHz radio.

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 It measures the absolute time of flight. This is done by calculating the time of flight in sending and receiving data packs simultaneously between all 35 frequency bands. The values are stitched together and finally the distance between the two Wi-Fi devices is calculated.

If the Wi-Fi device has multiple antennas, Chrono can actually locate the device in space by calculating the angles. Also since it sends few Wi-Fi packets on each Wi-Fi band it doesn’t affect the Wi-Fi traffic. It is able to localize with an accuracy of 10 times that of the GPS.

Well, it is accurate enough to let your robot carry-on or drones to follow you and at the same time keep a safe distance from you. Finally you can setup a Wi-Fi fence, so that your Wi-Fi can protect itself and you can be carefree now that no one is going to steal your Wi-Fi, the way you used to do before (admit it!!) You will also be able to know where that devilish brother of yours is hiding with your phone. Chrono opens a whole new level of home automation.

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 The next step for the researchers (Deepak Vasisht, Swarun Kumar, Dina Katabi) is to improve the resolution of Chrono. The researchers are in discussion with MIT for commercializing this technology.

And if all goes well, then the day when you will finally be able to find that important stuff of yours which you always lose and go for your morning walk with your robot pet following you close by, won’t be very far.

The researchers’ paper was presented at this month’s USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI ’16).

Credit: Apoorva jha