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Indoor Navigation Using Wi-Fi as a Positioning Technology

Indoor Navigation Using Wi-Fi as a Positioning Technology

Inside buildings Wi-Fi is a good alternative to GPS, which is not available indoors. In most cases it is easy to install a Wi-Fi positioning system (WPS), since Wi-Fi access points already exist in many buildings. The advantage is that for example existing cash register systems, public hotspots and access points of shops or exhibitors can be used. The user doesn’t necessarily have to connect with the Wi-Fi, it is sufficient to have Wi-Fi enabled.

For positioning, the so-called fingerprinting method is used. The strength of the Wi-Fi signals (received signal strength indication, RSSI) and the MAC address (media access control) are significant. There must be an appropriate app installed on the smartphone which calculates the current position based on these data. Later in this article you will learn about how these data are collected.

Accuracy of Wi-Fi for indoor positioning

Accuracy depends on multiple factors, for example the number of available networks, reflections for example in corridors and last but not least shielding through walls, ceilings and your own body. The accuracy of Wi-Fi used for indoor positioning varies from five to 15 meters – depending on the preconditions. Sensor fusion – this means the use of smartphone sensors – can even improve accuracy. A big advantage compared to GPS is that it is possible to determine the current floor level.

Setting up an indoor positioning system using Wi-Fi

The calibration of position determination works with a one-time reference measurement in the run-up, where the signal strength of the Wi-Fi networks is determined. For this purpose infsoft offers an app with which the client can easily execute the measurement on his own. This solution is client based, which means an app is necessary. Check out our developer portal and the SDK for more information and videos.

If a server based solution is more suitable for the project, infsoft’s self-developed locator nodes can be used. In this case no app is required, all Wi-Fi capable devices are detected and Wi-Fi tracking (asset tracking of, for example, mobile goods) is possible. Locator nodes also support Bluetooth low energy.

Pros and cons of indoor positioning using Wi-Fi


  • indoor positioning works without GPS
  • existing Wi-Fi infrastructure can be used
  • enabled Wi-Fi is sufficient
  • there is a back channel to the client
  • large range (up to 150m)
  • detects floor level


  • relatively inaccurate (5-15m) compared to BLE/RFID
  • Wi-Fi client based positioning is not possible with iOS devices – but BLE can be used as an alternative
  • application required

Application areas of an indoor positioning system using Wi-Fi

Indoor navigation using Wi-Fi makes sense when Wi-Fi has to replace GPS in buildings. For example in complex infrastructures such as shopping malls, exhibition halls, railway stations, airports, hospitals, museums, office and industry buildings. An indoor navigation app improves visitor service and enables analyzing visitor flows. It is not suitable, if you have many iOS users among your audience.

Learn more about indoor positioning systems
Learn more about how infsoft uses Wi-Fi as an indoor positioning technology

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Great introduction to the topic of indoor positioning

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