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Chronos is an innovative system for Wi-Fi position tracking, developed by MIT, that can help us provide intelligent free Wi-Fi, design smarter houses and produce safer drones.

csaillogo.gifA team of researchers at CSAIL (MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligent Laboratory) recently developed an innovative system, called Chronos, for accurate Wi-Fi position tracking of clients: thanks to this system, a single access point is now able to locate a Wi-Fi client at a decimeter-level.While most Wi-Fi position tracking systems require multiple access points for Wi-Fi triangulation, and they do not work well in environments with physical obstacles, like walls of big objects, Chronos works with one AP only and, thanks to an algorithm, automatically removes errors caused by physical obstacles.

Let see how it works. Chronos measures the signal’s “time of flight” (that is the time that data packets take to go from the access point to the client’s device) on multiple frequencies in only 0.47 nanoseconds and then multiplies the result by the speed of light to quickly calculate the angle and the distance between the user and the device.

But… what’s the purpose of this system? This huge innovation in wireless technology has many possible applications. First, it allows public places like bars and restaurants to protect their Wi-Fi networks from piggybacking. Chronos can localize who is in the bar and provide password-free WiFi only to these customers, while excluding people outside the bar even if the WiFi signal reaches them, too.

Chronos can also be used to connect the people that are in a specific area to the WiFi : for example, you could immediately access WiFi without credentials when you’re at an airport or in a railway station.

There are other interesting applications: this system, when installed on drones, is able to make them fly at a safe distance from people. Furthermore, it can be used for smart houses, to automate cooling and heating depending on the number of people that are in a room.

The main advantage of this technology, compared to the traditional Wi-Fi localization through triangulation, is that you only need one access point instead of multiple access points and multiple wireless sensors, so that SMBs with low budgets can now also provide free WiFi with accurate position tracking.

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