updated 01:25 pm EDT, Tue May 22, 2012
Libelium tech allows tracking congestion, speeds of mobile devices
Libelium has revealed a new technology that can track the amount of foot or vehicle traffic by counting the number of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radio signals from user's smartphones. Integrated into its Meshlium Xtreme multiprotocol router, it will allow the tracking of vehicles as well as their speeds, the amount of time people stand in front of store windows or landmarks, and can even differentiate between local residents and tourists. Any mobile device with a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi radio can be tracked, and no app needs to be installed on the devices.
The router detects the periodically sent messages from smartphones and privacy is ensured because these messages do not identify owners, said company CTO David Gascon. It does not require the smartphones to connect to a Wi-Fi network, but users need to enter the range of the router. Artificially setting the range can target a specific measurement area such as in front of a specific store or the entire shopping mall. The information collected includes a unique MAC address, RSSI signal strength, maker of the device, type of the device.
The system could also be used to track vehicle traffic for mapping and travel information, though its ability to also track speeds may mean it can, in theory, be adopted to issue speeding fines as well, though local laws may prevent that application.
The router needs to be connected to autonomous sensor nodes to read the signals.