Rebooting ultrasonic positioning systems for ultrasound-incapable smart devices

Qiongzheng Lin, Zhenlin An, Lei Yang

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


An ultrasonic Positioning System (UPS) has outperformed RF-based systems in terms of its accuracy for years. However, few of the developed solutions have been deployed in practice to satisfy the localization demand of today's smart devices, which lack ultrasonic sensors and were considered as being “deaf” to ultrasound. A recent finding demonstrates that ultrasound may be audible to the smart devices under certain conditions due to their microphone's nonlinearity. Inspired by this insight, this work revisits the ultrasonic positioning technique and builds a practical UPS, called UPS+, for ultrasound-incapable smart devices. The core concept is to deploy two types of indoor beacon devices, which will advertise ultrasonic beacons at two different ultrasonic frequencies respectively. Their superimposed beacons are shifted to a low-frequency by virtue of the nonlinearity effect at the receiver's microphone. This underlying property functions as an implicit ultrasonic downconverter without throwing harm to the hearing system of humans. We demonstrate UPS+, a fully functional UPS prototype, with centimeter-level localization accuracy using custom-made beacon hardware and well-designed algorithms.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMobiCom 2019 - Proceedings of the 25th Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
ISBN (Electronic)9781450361699
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2019
Event25th Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking, MobiCom 2019 - Los Cabos, Mexico
Duration: 21 Oct 201925 Oct 2019

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking, MOBICOM


Conference25th Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking, MobiCom 2019
CityLos Cabos


  • Nonlinearity Effect
  • Ultrasonic Positioning System
  • UPS+

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Software

Cite this