Location determination using wifi fingerprinting versus wifi trilateration

Chi Ming Esmond Mok, G. Retscher

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

99 Citations (Scopus)


Many applications in the area of location-based services and personal navigation require nowadays the location determination of a user not only in an outdoor environment but also an indoor. Typical applications of location-based services (LBS) mainly in outdoor environments are fleet management, travel aids, location identification, emergency services and vehicle navigation. LBS applications can be further extended if reliable and reasonably accurate three-dimensional positional information of a mobile device can be determined seamlessly in both indoor and outdoor environments. Current geolocation methods for LBS may be classified as GNSS-based, cellular network-based or their combinations. GNSS-based methods rely very much on the satellite visibility and the receiver-satellite geometry. This can be very problematic in dense high-rise urban environments and when transferring to an indoor environment. Especially, in cities with many high-rise buildings, the urban canyon will greatly affect the reception of the GNSS signals. Moreover, positioning in the indoor/outdoor transition areas would experience signal quality and signal reception problems, if GNSS systems alone are employed. The authors have proposed the integration of GNSS with wireless positioning techniques such as WiFi and UWB. In the case of WiFi positioning, the so-called fingerprinting method based on WiFi signal strength observations is usually employed. In this article, the underlying technology is briefly reviewed, followed by an investigation of two WiFi-positioning systems. Testing of the system is performed in two localisation test beds, one at the Vienna University of Technology and another one at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The first test showed that the trajectory of a moving user could be obtained with a standard deviation of about ±3–5 m. The main disadvantage of WiFi fingerprinting, however, is the required time consuming and costly signal strength system calibration in the beginning. Therefore, the authors have investigated if the measured signal strength values can be converted to the corresponding range to the access point. A new approach for this conversion is presented and analysed in typical test scenarios.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-159
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Location Based Services
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


  • GNSS
  • Seamless indoor and outdoor positioning
  • Signal strength to distance conversion
  • WiFi-positioning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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