Increased Accuracy for Location in the Browser

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

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We're excited today to announce a major improvement to the accuracy of the Gears Geolocation API. From today, Gears will make use of Wi-Fi signals, where available, to calculate the user's location with greatly improved accuracy. Wi-Fi-based location is available in many major cities around the world, and you can expect accuracies down to a couple of hundred metres. Even better, we expect both coverage and accuracy to improve over time.


Gears already makes use of cell ID, IP and GPS information, where possible, to calculate the user's position. This latest improvement doesn't introduce any change to the Geolocation API, so there's no extra work for you as a developer. Gears simply considers Wi-Fi as an additional source of information and will return the best position estimate it can.

On mobile devices, you can expect significantly better accuracy compared to cell ID-based location, but the real improvement will be on laptops. Wi-Fi based positioning means that you can deliver web applications for laptop users that are automatically customised to your user's exact position. To see what we mean, check out these great new web applications from lastminute.com, ITN and Rummble, that use the Gears Geolocation API. lastminute.com's Radar application provides a really easy way to locate hotels near you, perfect for last minute bookings while travelling. ITN's local news page shows news stories local to the user's position graphically on a map, plus if you have the Google Earth plugin installed, the results are shown Google Earth. Finally, Rummble automatically centres its search of nearby Rummbles on the user's position.

To protect user privacy, the Gears Geolocation API server does not record user location. However, third party sites may do so, and we recommend that users only allow web sites they trust to access their location. Gears will always tell a user when your site wants to access their location for the first time and the user can either allow or deny your site permission. We recommend users check the privacy policy of your web site if they are in doubt as to how your site may use location information.

Steve Block
Gears Software Engineer

4 comments:

ngun said...

i love that is

AJ00200 said...

Thas great!

JoeG said...

I'm new to the Gears API and was wondering if it is at all possible to use Gears to show a persons position on a floor plan as they move about a building.

The floor has WiFi hubs approximately every 20 feet or so. I don't need the vertical location at this time, just the horizontal location.

Any ideas if this is at all possible?

nuit said...

if you just want it in one home...it should be possible, even without gears...you have to build a map of the location, each access point...this can be done with different warwalking equipment (laptop and wlan scanner)...measuring the strength of each wifi at different locations..yeah..and then writing a short software which locates on a server based map :) have fun
gears is wonderful...just...are you using the data to provide your database with more informations about towers and wifis? baaad idea...