SurroundSense: mobile phone localization via

SurroundSense: mobile phone localization via
SurroundSense: Mobile Phone Localization
via Ambience Fingerprinting
Martin Azizyan
Ionut Constandache
Romit Roy Choudhury
martin.azizyan@duke.edu
ionut@cs.duke.edu
romit@ee.duke.edu
Duke University
Durham, NC, USA
Duke University
Durham, NC, USA
Duke University
Durham, NC, USA
ABSTRACT
1.
A growing number of mobile computing applications are centered around the user’s location. The notion of location is
broad, ranging from physical coordinates (latitude/longitude)
to logical labels (like Starbucks, McDonalds). While extensive
research has been performed in physical localization, there
have been few attempts in recognizing logical locations. This
paper argues that the increasing number of sensors on mobile phones presents new opportunities for logical localization. We postulate that ambient sound, light, and color in a
place convey a photo-acoustic signature that can be sensed by
the phone’s camera and microphone. In-built accelerometers
in some phones may also be useful in inferring broad classes
of user-motion, often dictated by the nature of the place. By
combining these optical, acoustic, and motion attributes, it
may be feasible to construct an identifiable fingerprint for
logical localization. Hence, users in adjacent stores can be
separated logically, even when their physical positions are extremely close. We propose SurroundSense, a mobile phone
based system that explores logical localization via ambience
fingerprinting. Evaluation results from 51 different stores
show that SurroundSense can achieve an average accuracy
of 87% when all sensing modalities are employed. We believe this is an encouraging result, opening new possibilities
in indoor localization.
Mobile phones are becoming a powerful platform for peoplecentric computing. A variety of applications are on the rise,
many of which utilize the location of the phone [11, 16, 18].
For instance, GeoLife [27] is a service that plans to display
shopping lists on a mobile phone when the phone is detected
near a Wal-Mart. Micro-Blog plans to query users that are
presently located, say, in an art gallery. Location-based advertising is on the horizon – a person entering Starbucks may
receive an electronic coupon for purchasing coffee. Interestingly, all these applications operate on a logical notion of location, such as “Wal-Mart”, “art gallery”, and “Starbucks”. In the
absence of well-established logical localization schemes, application developers are assuming that physical coordinates
(like GPS) can be reverse geo-coded to logical locations. We
argue that conversion from physical to logical location is error prone. We present our arguments next, and motivate the
need for independent research in logical localization.
INTRODUCTION
Consider GPS, the most popular physical localization method
on mobile devices. While GPS can achieve up to 10m accuracy
in outdoor environments, they do not work indoors. A variety of WiFi and GSM based alternates have been proposed for
indoor operation (RADAR, Place Lab, SkyHook, etc. [2–4]),
each associated with distinct tradeoffs between accuracy and
scalability. For argument’s sake, let us imagine that future localization techniques will attain the best of both worlds. That
is, a phone can be easily and ubiquitously localized to the accuracy of 5m in any indoor environment. We argue that even
such an idealized scheme may not be adequate to accurately
identify logical locations. This is because two logical locations may be separated by a dividing wall, and an error margin of 5m may place the phone on the incorrect side of this
wall. As a result, a phone located near the wall of Starbucks
may be erroneously placed in an adjacent RadioShack (Figure
1). Services that rely on logical locations can be affected. A
coffee drinker at Starbucks may resent receiving video-game
coupons intended for RadioShack customers next-door.
Categories and Subject Descriptors
H.3.4 [Information Storage and Retrieval]: Systems and
Software; C.2.4 [Computer-Comunication Networks]: Distributed Systems; H.5.5 [Information Interfaces and Presentations]: Sound and Music Computing
General Terms
Design, Experimentation, Performance, Algorithms
Keywords
Localization, Mobile Phones, Context, Fingerprinting
To discriminate between adjacent locations/contexts, some
approaches have installed special transmitters in each context/room. The Cricket system achieved cm scale localization
through a combination of RF and ultrasound beaconing systems installed in the surroundings [22]. Nokia deployed bluetooth based beacon-transmitters in different rooms of their
lab. Unlike WiFi, bluetooth beacons can be more easily confined to a single room, and hence, are useful for localization.
Installing special hardware in every room, while arguable for
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261
Figure 2: Nearby stores at our university campus exhibit
diversity in wall/floor color and ambient lighting. The
bookstore (left) is lit with bright white light, the boutique
(middle) with dim white light, while the pub (right) is
significantly darker.
Figure 1: Slight errors in physical coordinates can place a
phone on the wrong side of a wall.
specific needs, may not scale to an entire city. Solutions are
necessary that obviate the need for pre-installed infrastructure. In fact, even WiFi may not be available ubiquitously in
developing regions. Mobile phones, however, are a rapidly growing platform in these regions, and localizing them even without
WiFi can be enabling.
places are different, SurroundSense should be able to discriminate between them correctly.
In certain cases, such as in strip malls, there is an interesting economic reason that may add to the ambience diversity.
Essentially, spatially nearby businesses may have an incentive
to be mutually unique. For example, multiple Chinese restaurants may not prosper if they are all located in the same strip
mall, and present the same music, decor, lighting, and layout. Mutual distinctiveness reduces competition, benefiting
each of the businesses financially and socially. The outcome
of such economic behavior facilitates SurroundSense. Since
fingerprints of spatially collocated places may be diverse by
design, SurroundSense can exploit this diversity for reliable
logical localization. Figure 2 presents pictures from a few
adjacent stores near our university campus – the diversity in
lighting and color is evident.
To summarize, installing localization equipment in every
logical place is unscalable, while relying solely on external infrastructure (such as GPS/GSM/WiFi) lacks the accuracy to
discriminate adjacent contexts. Ideally, local attributes of a
logical location need to be identified passively and exploited
for accurate localization. We argue that numerous local attributes already exist in the location’s ambience; sensing them
through mobile phones and using them in conjunction with
GSM/WiFi can be an effective solution. The central idea is
presented next.
Our hypothesis is that the combined effect of ambient sound,
light, and color – i.e., the overall ambience of a place – can be
unique enough for localization. For example, ambient sound
in Starbucks may include specific noise signatures from coffee machines and microwaves, that are different from sounds
of forks and spoons clinking in restaurants. Shops may have
thematic colors in their decor, such as red at Target and yellow at Panera Breads. Floors may be covered with carpets,
ceramic tiles, or wooden strips, all of which are discriminating attributes of the ambience. Even lighting styles may be
different in order to match with the type of service a place
may provide – bars with dim yellow lights versus BlockBuster
with bright white light. In addition, the movement of a person in a given place may also be a function of the layout of
that place, and its type of service. Human movement in WalMart (walking up and down aisles) may be different from that
in Barnes and Noble (relaxed stroll with long pauses), which
may in turn be different from restaurants (short queuing followed by a long duration of sitting). Even though places may
not be unique based on any one attribute, the combination
of all the attributes is likely to exhibit diversity. We intend to
sense these attributes through the mobile phone’s camera, microphone, and accelerometer, and show that their combined
diversity can be exploited for localization.
Translating this broad idea into a practical localization system entails a range of challenges. Recognizing fingerprints
from raw ambience data is non-trivial; the ambience of a
place may vary over time; a person’s movement on a certain
day may be atypical. Nonetheless, the availability of multiple
modes of sensing may be able to cope with such variations.
SurroundSense is among the early attempts to make use of
these multi-modal sensing capabilities for localization. Our
approaches are simple and the results look promising. Our
main contributions are as follows.
(1) Identifying the possibility of fingerprinting a logical
location based on ambient sound, light, color, and human
movement. Cameras, microphones, and accelerometers on
WiFi-enabled Nokia N95 phones were used to sense such information.
(2) An experimental framework that creates a fingerprint database and performs fingerprint matching for test
samples. We performed simple feature extraction from the
collected data, and combined them into a per-location fingerprint. Support vector machines (SVMs), color clustering, and
other simple methods were used for location classification.
A natural question is: should ambiences of all places be unique
for reliable localization? We do not believe this is necessary.
Existing indoor localization schemes, based on GSM or WiFi,
effectively place a phone in a macro-location (such as a strip
mall). All logical places within such a macro-location can
be shortlisted. As long as the ambiences of these shortlisted
(3) Evaluation of the scheme in business locations in
our university town. We covered 51 distinct stores, each
store fingerprinted at various times of the day. Different students then visited each of these stores and their sensed data
were used to deduce their locations. We achieved an average
262
Figure 3: SurroundSense architecture: The ambience fingerprint is generated by the fingerprinting factory. This test
fingerprint and candidate fingerprint (from the phone’s macro-location) are matched in the fingerprint matching module.
localization accuracy of over 85% when all sensors were employed for localization.
longitude> tuple accurate to around 150m. A candidate selection module consults a geographical database (such as geonames.org) to shortlist all stores within 150m of LGSM . Fingerprints for each of the shortlisted stores are fetched from an existing database of fingerprints (we discuss database-creation
later). We call these shortlisted fingerprints “candidate fingerprints”. Like the test fingerprint, each candidate fingerprint
also consists of five sub-fingerprints (i.e., Fi = < fsi , fli , fci , fwi ,
fai >). The candidate fingerprints are also forwarded to the
matching module.
The rest of this paper expands on each of these contributions. We discuss limitations and future work in Section 6.
We present related work in Section 7 and conclude the paper
in Section 8.
2.
SURROUNDSENSE ARCHITECTURE
Figure 3 presents the overall architecture of SurroundSense.
This is one possible architecture in the broad design space, not
necessarily the optimal one. We describe the high level flow of
information through this architecture, and present the internal details later. We begin with a mobile phone user visiting
an unknown store. The phone senses the ambience automatically. The sensed values are recorded, pre-processed, and
transmitted to a remote SurroundSense server. The goal of
pre-processing is to reduce the data volume that needs to be
transmitted. Once the sensor values arrive at the server, they
are forwarded to the fingerprinting factory. The fingerprinting
factory segregates the type of sensor data (sound, color, light,
WiFi, accelerometer) and distributes them to respective fingerprinting modules. These modules perform a set of appropriate operations, including color clustering, light extraction
and feature selection. The individual fingerprints from each
module are logically inserted into a common data structure,
called the ambience fingerprint, F . Put differently, F consists
of five sub-fingerprints < fs , fl , fc , fw , fa > corresponding to
sound, light, color, WiFi, and accelerometer. Since the phone’s
location is not known at this time, we call this the “test fingerprint”. The test fingerprint is forwarded to the fingerprint
matching module for localization.
The matching/filtering module is expected to select one
candidate fingerprint that best matches the test fingerprint.
For this, it computes the pair-wise “similarity” between the
test and candidate sub-fingerprints. The similarity values are
used either for filtering, or for matching. Filtering means eliminating some candidate fingerprints that are not likely to be
from the same location as the test fingerprint. A filter accepts
the test and the candidate fingerprints, and returns a subset
of the candidate set. Matching means ordering the candidate
set according to the pair-wise similarity values. From the list
of decreasing similarity, the top ranked candidate is declared
to be from the same location as the test case. We use the WiFi,
accelerometer, and sound sensors as filters; color and light are
combined into a single matching operation. We describe the
details next.
3.
SYSTEM DESIGN
In this section we present the two main components of SurroundSense: Fingerprint Generation, and Matching.
3.1
The transmitted data from the phone also includes the phone’s
(GSM-based) physical coordinate, LGSM (we assume WiFi
may not be available at all locations). The LGSM is a <latitude,
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Fingerprint Generation
The raw sensor values from phones contain a lot of information about the phone’s surroundings. The important task is
to extract features from them that are effective in discriminating its ambience [17]. While sophisticated data mining is one
approach, we intend to develop lightweight techniques that
will eventually be executable on the phone’s processor. We
show that such lightweight techniques are feasible, particularly because the availability of multi-dimensional signatures
obviates the need to make any single signature perfect. Of
course, perfecting each of the signatures (through sophisticated machine learning techniques) is likely to offer greater
benefits.
Fingerprinting Sound
The ambient sound in a place can be suggestive of the type
of place. Some places play loud music in the background versus others that are quieter. Some may have a strong presence of metallic noise or A/C machine drones versus others
in which there are frequent beeps at check out counters. We
recorded the ambient sound of a store for one minute using
the phone microphone. Our first attempt was to convert the
signal to the frequency domain (through an FFT), and identify signatures of specific devices in the ambience. However,
we observed that while some sound signatures were visible,
in many cases it was difficult to separate them from other
frequency components. Hence, we reverted back to the time
domain, and used a simple fingerprinting scheme based on
signal amplitude. Specifically, we divided amplitude in 100
equal intervals (50 on the positive amplitude axis, and 50 on
the negative). The audio sample rate is 8 kHz (8000 samples/s). We normalized the number of samples per-interval
by the total number of samples in the recording. The 100
normalized values were considered to be features of the ambient sound, together called the acoustic fingerprint. Figure 4
shows the fingerprints for 3 different stores.
Figure 4: Sound fingerprints from 3 adjacent stores.
Capturing broad user movements within a store can be a useful fingerprint of that store. The fingerprint can be used to
zero in on the test fingerprint’s actual location.
We use the 3-axes accelerometer in Nokia N95 mobile phones
to characterize user movements. The accelerometer is sampled 4 times per second. Each sample records the instantaneous acceleration of the phone. Unfortunately, the accelerometer has a large noise floor which makes accurate measurements difficult. To circumvent these issues, we computed
a moving average over a window of 10 recent samples. The
time averaging smoothened the sequence of samples, at the
expense of suppressing some minor movements. We also computed the moving variance using the window of last 10 samples. The two sequence of samples were processed as follows.
Because sound from the same place can vary over time, it
is unreliable to use sound as a matching scheme. Therefore,
we use sound only as a filter. We compute the pair-wise distance between the test fingerprint and all candidate fingerprints. The pair-wise distance is based on an euclidean metric
in the 100 dimensional space. If the distance between a candidate fingerprint and test fingerprint is greater than a filter
threshold, ⌧ , we discard that candidate fingerprint. Other fingerprints remain in the candidate set and are forwarded to
successive filtering/matching modules. Of course, the question is how do we choose ⌧ . For this, we collected acoustic
fingerprints from each location at different times, and computed the pair-wise distances. Plots of these distances reflected the distribution of self-similarities. Smaller the distance, more self-similar they were. To eliminate outliers, for
each store i, we chose a threshold distance, i , that was at the
95th percentile. We chose the maximum i across all shops,
and assigned it to ⌧ . In other words, ⌧ is a measure of the
maximum dissimilarity that was observed among two acoustic fingerprints from the same store. We conservatively chose
the maximum to adopt a wider filter. Hence, more candidate
fingerprints were allowed through the filter (more false positives). However, those eliminated, were done with greater
confidence (fewer false negatives). The output of the soundbased filtering module is fed to the accelerometer filter.
We decided to identify two simple states from the accelerometer readings, namely, stationary and motion. To classify these
states, we decided to use support vector machines (SVM), a
popular data classification tool [7]. We first trained the SVM
using readings from a statically held phone, as well as from
readings in which a user walked with the phone. We used
mean and variance as the features during the training phase.
Once the training was accomplished, accelerometer samples
from real user movements in different stores were fed to the
SVM. The SVM classified each of these samples to be either in
stationary (-1) or moving (+1) state. The sequence of these
states can be viewed as an abstraction of the user’s movement
pattern.
User movement is prone to fluctuation. Some users may
browse for a long time in a clothing store, while others may
purchase clothes in haste. Therefore, like sound, we use accelerometers as a filtering mechanism too. Since filters are
not required to provide a strict ordering, they are less prone
to error. Nevertheless, it is necessary to capture a feature in
user movement that is dictated more by the store, and less
by the user’s whim. One possibility is to first differentiate between sitting and moving places (e.g., restaurants, haircutteries, cafes, versus grocery, music stores, bookstores). In the
moving category, we can further divide into slow-browsing
and speed-walking. To verify this intuition, we gathered a
Fingerprinting Motion using Accelerometers
The nature of service in a place partly influences the type of
human movements in that place [21, 23]. A simple example
is that people are stationary for long durations in restaurants,
while grocery store customers are significantly more mobile.
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Figure 5: Sample accelerometer traces from each bucket. SVM class (-1) is static, (+1) is motion. (a) Bucket 1 stores
expect users to sit for long durations (Starbucks, restaurants). (b) Bucket 2 shops carry browsing products (book stores,
clothing, wine) (c) Bucket 3 stores are mostly for fast shopping (Wal-Mart, Krogers)
taken1 . Only floor-facing pictures are enlisted for color/light
extraction, while others are discarded.
large number of accelerometer traces, and computed a ratio
t
R = tmoving
. The value of R is a fingerprint, where tmoving
static
and tstatic are total durations during which the SVM classified
the user as moving or static. Plotting values of R on a real
line revealed 3 clusters (with some outliers). We thresholded
these clusters, extracting 3 buckets of accelerometer fingerprints:
• Bucket 1: 0.0  R  0.2
Sitting (cafe)
• Bucket 2: 0.2 < R  2.0
Browsing (clothing)
• Bucket 3: 2.0 < R < 1
Walking (grocery)
Focusing only on floor pictures, i.e., those taken with the
camera facing downward, offers a number of benefits. (1)
Privacy concerns may prevent a user’s phone from randomly
clicking pictures of the surrounding. However, if pictures are
taken only when the phone camera is pointing towards the
floor, the concerns are partly alleviated. (2) Pictures of the
floor are likely to be less punctuated with other objects. Dominant colors extracted from these pictures are expected to be
less noisy. (3) There is rich diversity in the colors of carpets,
tiles, marble, and wooden floors. This diversity is beneficial to
localization. (4) Users may often point their cameras downward while using their phone (checking emails, typing SMS).
Floor pictures may not be uncommon.
Figure 5 depicts a sample accelerometer trace from each
of the buckets. The difference is visually evident. However,
some stores exhibited a higher spread in the R values (we
noticed that Target customers could vary between long DVD
browsers to quick grocery shoppers). To cope with such multicommodity shops, we assigned them to both buckets. Upon
receiving a test fingerprint from a phone, its bucket, Btest , is
first identified. Candidate fingerprints that belong to the same
bucket, Btest , are retained, while the others are filtered out.
The retained candidates are then forwarded for color/light
based fingerprint matching.
Our goal is to extract dominant colors and light intensity
from pictures of floors. For this, we first analyzed the color
of each pixel on a red-green-blue (RGB) space. The results
were poor because the extracted colors were heavily biased
by shadows of objects and people, and by reflections of light.
The light intensities were also unreliable (we omit the details
of several failed approaches). We circumvented this problem
by translating the pixels to the hue-saturation-lightness (HSL)
space. Briefly, hue (H) represents the naturally perceived base
colors, saturation (S) reflects the dominance of that hue, and
lightness (L) reflects the light intensity. As a result of this
translation, the actual floor colors could be decoupled from
the ambient light intensity. Shadows and reflections mattered
less, and most importantly, the light intensity was separately
available on the L axis.
Fingerprinting Color/Light using Cameras
Empirical observations convinced us that a large number of
stores have a thematic color and lighting as part of their decor.
The wall and floor colors contribute significantly to this theme.
Based on this, we hypothesized that automatic pictures taken
from different spots in a store are likely to reflect this theme.
If these colors and light intensities can be extracted from the
pictures, they could form a fingerprint for localization. For
now we assume that the phone is outside the user’s pocket;
we will visit this practical concern in the next section. The
challenge, then, is to extract the appropriate features of the
ambience from automatically-taken phone pictures. Of course,
random pictures of the surrounding are likely to capture a variety of store items, spread over a wide range of colors [13].
This can make the pictures noisy, i.e., the dominant colors extracted from these pictures may not match the thematic colors
of the ambience. To circumvent this, we focus on pictures of
the floor alone. We detect that a picture is of the floor based
on the orientation of the phone-camera when the picture was
We re-plotted the HSL pixels from all pictures of the same
place. On this scatterplot, we ran the K-means clustering algorithm [14] for increasing values of K. The K-means algorithm divides the pixels into K clusters, such that the sum of
distances from all pixels to their (own cluster’s) centroid, is
minimized. Let us call this sum, Sk . Starting from K = 2,
we continue to compute Sk until Sk Sk 1  , where is a
convergence threshold set reasonably small. At this point, we
obtained the stable clusters of colors, along with the sizes of
each cluster. The large clusters consisted of colors and light
1
Six camera orientations can be obtained from the phone,
namely left, right, front, back, top, bottom.
265
intensities that respectively reflected the thematic colors of
floors and the brightness in the ambience. In certain cases,
floors had multiple colors, producing multiple large clusters.
Other colors from the pictures were also reflected (e.g., colors
of shoes, lower end of trousers and shelves, etc.) but in proportionally small clusters. The number of clusters typically
varied between 3 to 7. Figure 6 shows an example from Bean
Traders Coffee shop. The centroids of these clusters, as well
as the cluster sizes, were each a feature of the ambience, together forming the color-light fingerprint of that place.
We considered several fingerprint matching schemes and
finalized on a simpler one (in view of our eventual goal to
execute SurroundSense on the phones). The idea is to compute the similarity between fingerprints F1 and F2 based on
the euclidean distance between their cluster centroids, and
the sizes of the clusters. Large clusters that are close to each
other indicate that both F1 and F2 have a good match in their
dominant colors. When the cluster size decreases, or the distance increases, the similarity is proportionally lower. Formally, denote C1 = {C11 , C12 , ...C1n } as the set of clusters
for fingerprint F1 . Similarly, C2 = {C21 , C22 , ...C2m } for F2 .
Let SizeOf (Cij ) denote the number of pixels in cluster Cij .
Let T1 and T2 be the total number of pixels in C1 and C2
respectively. Also, let function (i, j) represent the centroiddistance between the ith cluster of F1 and the j th cluster of
F2 . We model the similarity S12 between fingerprints F1 and
F2 as:
X 1
SizeOf (C1i ) SizeOf (C2j )
S12 =
(1)
(i,
j)
T1
T2
i,j
Figure 6: Color/light fingerprint in the HSL format from
the Bean Trader’s coffee shop. Each cluster represented
by a different symbol.
ilarity S of f1 and f2 is computed as:
S=
X
m2M
(f1 (m) + f2 (m))
min(f1 (m), f2 (m))
max(f1 (m), f2 (m))
(2)
The intuition behind this metric is to add a large value to
S when a MAC address occurs frequently in both f1 and f2 .
The purpose of the fraction is to prevent adding a large value
if a MAC address occurs frequently in one fingerprint, but not
in the other. Locations that achieve a low similarity have a
higher chance of discrimination, and the vice versa.
In other words, every cluster pair contributes to the overall
similarity of the two fingerprints. This contribution is proportional to the product of the two cluster sizes, and the euclidean distance between the centroids of the two clusters.
The similarity between the fingerprints is a sum of all pairwise similarities. Given a set of candidate fingerprints and a
test fingerprint, the similarities between the test and all candidates are computed. The candidate fingerprint with maximum similarity is declared to be the matching fingerprint. The
unknown location of the phone is classified to be that of the
matching fingerprint.
We use WiFi as a filter in SurroundSense to avoid frequent
misclassifications (false negatives). However, in the absence
of light/color, we use it as a matching module to obtain a
precise rank of the location in question.
3.2
Fingerprint Matching
SurroundSense combines the 4 filtering/matching operations into an enveloping module that outputs the test phone’s
logical location. The (WiFi, sound, and accelerometer) filters
are first applied to the candidate set, such that some of the
members can be safely eliminated. The pruned candidate set
is then fed to the color/light-based matching scheme, which
outputs an ordered list of the candidates. The order of applying WiFi, sound, and accelerometer does not matter, since it
is analogous to a “set intersection” operation. However, it is
important to use the color/light based matching scheme last.
This is because color/light performs a strict ordering, and a
smaller candidate set reduces the likelihood of mistakes. The
final output is an ordered list of candidates – the top ranked
candidate is declared to be the location of the phone.
Fingerprinting Wi-Fi
While creative WiFi fingerprinting techniques exist [3,4], they
do not apply directly to recognizing logical places. We adapt
existing WiFi based fingerprinting to suit logical localization,
and include it as the fifth sensor in SurroundSense. The intuition behind WiFi fingerprinting is simple. The MAC addresses
of visible APs are some indication of the phone’s location. The
phone records MAC addresses from received beacons every 5
seconds. From this raw data, a fingerprint is acquired by computing the fraction of times each unique MAC address was
seen over all recordings. A tuple of fractions (each tuple element corresponding to a distinct MAC address) forms the
WiFi fingerprint of that place.
Feedback from the end user, if feasible, can be beneficial.
Assume that SurroundSense outputs the ordered set of locations, {A, B, C}. The user can be asked to verify her location
from the set. If the user responds that her actual location is
B, then SurroundSense can potentially learn and train itself
accordingly. Experiments in this paper, however, do not take
advantage of such human feedback.
Fingerprint matching is performed by computing a metric
of similarity between a test fingerprint and all candidate fingerprints. The comparison between two fingerprints, f1 and
f2 , is performed as follows. Denote M as the union of MAC
addresses in f1 and f2 . For a MAC address m 2 M , let f1 (m)
and f2 (m) be the fractions computed as above. Then the sim-
266
As a final note, observe that the parameters for filtering and
matching can be tuned on a per-cluster basis. If certain clusters exhibit atypical behavior, SurroundSense could potentially train on that cluster and re-adjust filtering/matching
parameters. The matching operation may also be jointly performed across all sensors (as opposed to our simple serial approach). However, joint approaches are complicated in view
of orthogonal sensing modalities, and their unequal importance in overall localization. In that sense, the simplicity
of our algorithms makes SurroundSense executable on the
phone’s processor.
Coping with Time-varying Ambience
Fingerprints from a particular shop may vary over time. A
sound fingerprint from a busy hour may not match well if
the training fingerprints were derived from low-activity periods. Colors in a picture may be different depending on daylight or electric light. We propose to divide a day into 2-hour
time-windows, and index fingerprints based on the time they
were created. When a time-stamped test fingerprint is sent for
matching, candidate fingerprints from the appropriate timewindow are selected for comparison. The time-windows may
be refined, or made adaptive, as more fingerprints become
available to the fingerprint database.
4.
Figure 7: Nokia N95 phone running SurroundSense
scripts and fingerprinting.
and collected fingerprints from each of them. The stores were
visited multiple times later to collect test fingerprints and
evaluate the accuracy of SurroundSense. A few details about
the process are important in interpreting the performance of
SurroundSense, and hence, discussed in the evaluation section later.
Of course, war-sensing is labor-intensive and may not scale
to commercial-scale deployments. One possibility is to design
location labeling games, like image labeling games in the Internet [28]. The structure of the game could be to have competing users record an ambience fingerprint that best matches
a publicly announced fingerprint. For example, a Wal-Mart
fingerprint from New York could be posted in San Diego, and
people could try to match it by taking pictures and sensing
sounds. The person with a best match may win a prize. More
interesting variants of such a game may be possible. If large
number of people play such games, the fingerprint database
can be generated in a reasonable timeframe.
PROTOTYPE IMPLEMENTATION
SurroundSense was implemented on Nokia N95 phones using Python as the programming platform. The server consists
of MATLAB and Python code, and some data mining tools for
the fingerprint matching algorithms. We present relevant details next.
4.1
Client and Server
The ambience sensing script is designed such that each sensor runs on a different thread. The threads execute API calls,
and are then put to sleep for a desired time duration. The
time duration is chosen based on necessity. The accelerometer samples are collected at the rate of 4 readings per second.
The audio sampling rate is 8 kHz. Pictures are taken every 5
seconds, and the camera was configured to the “sport” mode
(to allow for better pictures while moving). A meta file is created for each fingerprint, storing information about the date,
time, GSM coordinates, camera mode, etc. Figure 7 shows a
few screenshots.
5.
We present the evaluation of SurroundSense in two parts:
(1) Partially Controlled Experimentation, and (2) Performance
Results.
5.1
The server is composed of several modules. A Data Manager assimilates the raw data from different phones and formats it appropriately. The formatted data is forwarded to the
Fingerprinting Factory, that employs libSVM for classifying
accelerometer data, MATLAB toolkits for K-means clustering
and audio processing. The < LogicalLocation, F ingerprint >
tuple is then inserted into the fingerprint database. A MATLAB/Python based Filtering/Matching Module accepts a test
fingerprint and computes the top-ranked match.
4.2
EVALUATION
Populating the Fingerprint Database
A natural question is how do we build a fingerprint database?
A variety of options may be feasible, depending on the extent
of coverage desired. In our case, we have performed laborintensive war-sensing at 46 business locations in the university
town, and at 5 locations in India. The notion of war-sensing
is analogous to the notion of war-driving for WiFi and GSM
based localization [3, 4]. Groups of students visited 51 stores
267
Partially Controlled Experimentation
Our field experiments were not performed with a real userbase (difficult with limited mobile phones). We also made
a few assumptions during experimentation. We report them
here so that the results can be interpreted with these factors
in mind.
Cameras Out of Pocket
Over the entire course of our experiments, we held the mobile phones in our hand (and not in our pockets). We used
a normal grip and periodically made phones calls, browsed
the Internet, and typed in SMSs. This allowed the phones
to take pictures for color and light fingerprinting. In uncontrolled environments, phones may be mostly inside the
pocket, preventing camera-based sensing. However, a host of
wearable mobile phones have already entered the commercial market [19]. These phones are worn as wrist watches
and necklaces, enabling a range of sensing/pervasive applications [10, 26]. Advances in nano-technology are further driving this trend by introducing flexible material (e.g., the Nokia
Morph [1]). We believe that wearable phones will become
popular in the near future, making SurroundSense a viable
application.
Mimicking Customer Behavior
While fingerprinting locations, we selected store clusters (within
GSM macro locations) and visited each of them in groups of
2 people (4 people in total). Upon arriving at a cluster, individuals went to different stores so that fingerprints were
time-separated. Each student fingerprinted every store in that
cluster. While in a store, we tried to behave like normal customers. Of course, without any purchasing intentions, it was
difficult to spend a natural amount of time in a store. Because
of this, our initial data showed artificial behavior – we were
moving too fast and not sitting/browsing enough as a normal customer would. We were also avoiding check-out counters and often missed signature sounds like bar-code scanning
beeps. To circumvent this, we decided to purchase coffee and
food in sit-down places. For other kinds of stores, we decided
to mimic the movement of another customer also present in
that store. We arbitrarily picked a person and moved synchronously with him or her. While he/she browsed an item
on the shelf, we imitated from a distance; while he/she moved
to a different shelf, or waited in a check-out queue, we tried
to do the same. We believe that our fingerprints reflect the
typical customer. However, they do not capture atypical behavior, such as a person picking up pre-ordered food from a
restaurant, or a clothing store customer picking a dress very
quickly. In that sense, one may interpret our results to be
partly optimistic.
5.2
Figure 8: (Left) iPhone’s GSM localization places the wine
shop on the parking lot. The cross shows the wine shop,
while circles show other stores within the same macrolocation. (Right) Rich diversity in floor colors from a single macro-location.
prising of a different combination of sensors). We evaluate 4
modes offering the user with multiple options to choose from.
We define the modes as follows:
1. WiFi-only (WiFi) is an adaptation of existing WiFi-based
fingerprinting to suit logical localization.
2. Sound, Accelerometer, Light and Color (Snd-Acc-LtClr) is the best option for places where WiFi is unavailable.
Performance
We begin by qualitatively showing that GSM based locations are macro in nature, hence, insufficient to identify the
phone’s logical location. Figure 8(a) shows one example. An
iPhone localized itself on the parking lot of a strip mall even
though the user entered the shop marked with a cross. Given
that there are several shops around the parking lot (marked
with circles), the phone’s logical location was ambiguous. We
observed similar behavior in all ten clusters we experimented
with. Nonetheless, GSM was valuable because it was omnipresent and effectively identified the macro-location of the
phone. SurroundSense was then applied to discriminate logical locations within this macro-location.
3. Sound, Accelerometer and WiFi (Snd-Acc-WiFi) is useful when the phone’s camera is not exposed.
4. SurroundSense (SS) is the combined scheme with all
modes of ambience fingerprinting.
The average accuracy across clusters 1 to 9 is presented
in Table 2. SurroundSense achieves an average accuracy of
87%, an appreciable improvement over WiFi which achieved
70%. In the cluster in India (cluster 10), WiFi was unavailable. Nonetheless, SurroundSense achieved 100% accuracy
owing to a rich diversity in the non-RF ambience. We zoom
into the results from each cluster and examine the behavior/performance of each localization mode. We consistently
observe that even though the locations were similar on one
or more sensing dimensions, across all the dimensions their
ambiences were diverse and identifiable.
Per-Cluster Accuracy
To evaluate SurroundSense, we war-sensed 51 shops organized in 10 clusters. Table 1 shows the number of shops in
each cluster. The first nine clusters are in a university town,
and were fingerprinted by 4 different students (in groups of
2). Each group visited the clusters at very different times;
while at a cluster, each student visited the shops individually
with time differences of at least 10 minutes. The tenth cluster
is located in India, and was visited by only two people. We
evaluate SurroundSense by cross-validating the fingerprints.
Specifically, for every cluster, we use person X’s fingerprints as
the database, and compute the other users’ accuracy against
it. We repeat this for all the 4 identities of X. This gives us 12
localization results per logical location. We present the results
next.
The efficacy of SurroundSense is best represented in clusters 1 and 2. All the sensors (WiFi, sound, accelerometer,
and color) contribute towards improving the localization accuracy to 90%. Cluster 3 reflects our hypothesis that collocated businesses may have incentives to exhibit unique ambiences. Specifically, all stores in this cluster were dining places,
but the diversity in light intensities and colors was sufficient
to distinguish them logically.
Cluster 4 achieves the lowest SS accuracy of around 72%.
This is a strip mall in which multiple shops happened to have
light brown hardwood floors. This uniformity makes the color
Figure 9(a) illustrates the average accuracy percentages percluster across different localization modes (each mode com-
268
Figure 9: (a) Average accuracy per-cluster. (b) CDF of per-shop accuracy.
Cluster
No. of Shops
1
4
2
7
3
3
4
7
5
4
6
5
7
5
8
6
9
5
10
5
fingerprinting the non-RF ambience. This can be valuable in
enabling location-based services in parts of the world where
mobile phones are popular, while WiFi is not.
Table 1: Number of shops per cluster.
Mode
Accuracy
WiFi
70%
Snd-Acc-WiFi
74%
Snd-Acc-Lt-Clr
76%
Per-Shop Accuracy
To understand the localization accuracy on a per-shop basis,
we plot the cumulative distribution function (CDF) in Figure
9(b). Evident from the graph, 47% of the shops can be localized perfectly using SurroundSense. In contrast, RF and nonRF fingerprinting achieve perfect match for around 30% of
the stores. Interestingly, Snd-Acc-WiFi displays a larger variance – it outperforms WiFi and Snd-Acc-Clr-Lt in the regime
of high accuracy, but is relatively worse for low-accuracy regimes.
This is because WiFi displays some type of a bimodal behavior – it either achieves a high accuracy, or suffers seriously
for specific locations. The median accuracy with SS, Snd-AccWiFi, Snd-Acc-Lt-Clr, and WiFi are 92%, 92%, 75%, and 75%
respectively. Clearly, the combination of multi-modal fingerprinting offers gain in logical localization.
SS
87%
Table 2: Average accuracy across clusters 1-9.
fingerprints less effective (we observed an average accuracy
of 50% for color alone). In addition the nature of the service
offered (mainly product-browsing) prevents the accelerometer from filtering out candidate shops. Sound offers a small
improvement because these locations are generally crowded,
and thus, exhibits similar background noise. While WiFi is
available at each location, the small sizes of these shops exposed them to the dividing wall problem. However even in
face of such unfavorable conditions, SS achieved a reasonable
accuracy of 72%. A similar situation was sensed in cluster 5,
but the combination of all the sensors again raised the accuracy to 80%.
Per-User Accuracy
To understand the user experience with SurroundSense, we
simulated virtual users and observed the localization accuracy each may observe. Each simulated user was assigned to
a random set of stores (between 4 to 8), selected randomly
from the 46 stores in cluster 1 to 9. We simulated 100 such
users, and report the average accuracy that each user may experience. Figure 10 presents the CDF of the average accuracy
per-simulated-user. From the figure, 2% of SurroundSense
users achieve between 73% and 75% accuracy. The accuracy
grows to an average of 83% or more for 80% of the users. The
median accuracy is around 88%, while 10% users experience
96% accuracy or more. Snd-Acc-WiFi and Snd-Acc-Lt-Clr are
comparable, achieving a median of around 76%. However,
they consistently outperform WiFi which achieves a median
of around 68%.
An interesting situation occurred in cluster 7. We recorded
the same audible access points in 4 of the shops. As expected,
WiFi localization achieved very low accuracy (less then 40%).
However Snd-Acc-Lt-Clr extracted enough diversity from the
non-RF ambience to raise the localization accuracy to over
90%.
The Snd-Acc-WiFi mode achieves moderate improvement
over WiFi alone. In some cases (clusters 5 and 9), sound
and accelerometer filters incur false negatives causing SndAcc-WiFi to be less accurate than WiFi alone. Nevertheless,
they adequately compensate in clusters 2 and 8, raising the
accuracy by factors of 15 to 20%. Cluster 8 includes a mixture of restaurants, a loud music shop, a quiet antique book
store and an art gallery. Combined with WiFi support all these
shops can be accurately localized even without light and color.
Per-Sensor Accuracy
Table 3 zooms into the performance of individual and groups
of sensors in SurroundSense. In the interest of space, we
hand-picked 6 examples that exhibit some of the merits and
demerits of each sensor. When using the filters (left part of
the table), we show the average number of shops left to con-
Lastly, even if WiFi is unavailable (as in cluster 10 in India)
SurroundSense may still be able to achieve a high accuracy by
269
C#
C7
C2
C3
C8
C6
C3
Acc
5.00
1.00
3.00
4.00
1.25
3.00
Filters
Snd WiFi
4.83 2.25
6.25 2.33
2.50 1.92
5.58 1.33
3.33 2.00
2.25 2.33
Snd-Acc-WF
2.08
1.00
1.58
1.00
1.00
1.67
WF
0%
83%
91%
83%
75%
41%
Snd-Acc-WF
16%
100%
91%
100%
100%
33%
Filters + Matching
C/L
Snd-C/L Acc-C/L
100% 100%
100%
75%
75%
100%
75%
91%
75%
100% 100%
100%
33%
100%
100%
91%
66%
91%
Snd-Acc-C/L
100%
100%
91%
100%
100%
66%
SS
100%
100%
100%
100%
100%
66%
Table 3: Examples of average performance per sensor at different business locations. The first column shows the cluster
number to which that particular business location belongs.
roundSense will benefit from these works. In addition, we
are developing simple sensing mechanisms to detect when a
phone goes outdoors. One idea is to attempt GPS localization – if a GPS lock is obtained, the phone can be assumed
outdoors. Variation in GSM signal strengths and temperature
sensing are also promising methods. Once the phone is detected outdoors, SurroundSense can be turned off.
Non-business Locations
Our evaluation spanned business locations. Offices, libraries,
airports, and other facilities may also require localization, and
may lack the ambience-diversity inherent in businesses. However, these places may be considered as a broad logical location, and the dividing wall problem may not be as critical from
the application’s perspectives.
Localizing in Real Time
An accelerometer trace requires some time to converge (e.g.,
a person in a restaurant may need to wait in a queue before
sitting). We plan to investigate faster methods of localization without compromising accuracy. Compasses and nearby
Bluetooth devices can be promising.
Figure 10: Random person accuracy CDF
sider after applying the respective filter. In the right side of
the table, we show the percentage of tests for each location
where the phone was localized correctly using only the specified sensors. For example, in row 2, the accelerometer always
filters out all but one location from the cluster. As the second part of the table shows, whenever the accelerometer is
used, SurroundSense’s localization accuracy is always 100%.
Row 4 shows a similar result for the color/light sensor. Using
only the camera, SurroundSense is able to achieve 100% accuracy in this location. Finally, the last row gives an example
of the high cost of false negatives in a filter. We see that using only color gives average accuracy of 91%. When sound
is added, the average is reduced to 66%. Thus, sound filters
out the fingerprint from the correct location in some cases.
Once the correct location is filtered out, the final match will
inevitably be incorrect, regardless of the color/light sensor’s
performance. In order to minimize the number of such cases,
we were conservative when designing the filters in SurroundSense.
6.
Compass and Peer Devices
Electronic compasses already on Nokia 5140 phones can provide geographic orientation (e.g., 36.5 East). The geographic
orientation may be correlated to the layout of furniture and
shopping aisles in stores. For instance, users may be forced
to sit on chairs or face grocery shelves while shopping. Since
layouts are likely to vary between nearby stores, and because
layouts are stationary over time, they may be a reliable indicator of the user’s location. Of course, a user’s rotation may
add noise to the estimation, but the noise can be filtered out
without difficulty. Discovering other phones in the neighborhood can also be suggestive of location. Classrooms may be
places in which nearby phones are typically from friend lists,
while traveling on a public bus may result in a high density of
“unknown” phones in the surroundings. We plan to explore
neighbor discovery for the purpose of localization.
Hierarchical Localization
It may be useful if logical locations can be grouped into a
broader category. For example, Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, Bean
Traders, etc. could all be categorized as coffee shops. Similar categories could be chinese restaurants, women’s clothing,
grocery, toys. Certain applications may benefit from such hierarchy – imagine a coffee company advertising its brand to
all coffee-shop visitors. Hierarchical categorization of logical
places requires deeper insights into both the diversity and the
homogeneity of fingerprints. Ambience attributes that are ho-
LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE WORK
We discuss some limitations with the current version of SurroundSense, along with our ongoing/future work.
Energy Considerations
This paper does not consider the energy tradeoffs with SurroundSense. Independent research is in progress on energyefficient localization and sensing [6, 15, 29] – we believe Sur-
270
mogeneous across coffee shops, but diverse from other stores,
need to be carefully sifted out. We leave this for future work.
7.
to identify the user’s location. SurroundSense may not qualify
as a stand-alone localization technique. However, in conjunction with GSM based macro-localization, SurroundSense can
perform micro-localization based on the inherent properties
of the ambience. We believe SurroundSense is an early step
towards a long-standing research problem in indoor localization. Further research in fingerprinting techniques, sophisticated classification, and better energy management schemes
could make SurroundSense a viable solution of the future.
RELATED WORK
Indoor localization and context awareness are well known
problems in wireless/mobile computing. Several creative approaches have been proposed, broadly classified as active and
passive, and sub-classified into RF and sensing techniques.
We describe the key ideas here.
9.
Active RF techniques refer to installing special hardwares
and softwares in the environment to achieve high precision
indoor localization. This category includes the Cricket [22]
and Nokia systems (discussed in the introduction), as well
as LEASE, PAL, PINPOINT (see [31] and references therein).
Research on link signatures showed location distinction [32]
using interesting techniques. Device movement can be detected based on variation in link qualities from the device to
multiple listeners in the surrounding. As argued earlier, active
techniques are certainly effective in high-budget applications,
but are unlikely to scale over city-wide areas. Passive localization schemes bypass the need for pre-installed infrastructure.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
We sincerely thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable feedback on this paper. We also thank Victor Bahl, Nitin
Vaidya, Srihari Nelakuditi, and Suman Banerjee for their insightful comments and encouragement during the formative
stages of SurroundSense. Finally, we are grateful to NSF,
Nokia, Verizon, and Microsoft Research, for partially funding
our research in mobile computing.
10.
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