Navizon's new tech tracks you, the smartphone user

A new system from location services provider Navizon can pinpoint your position by homing in on the Wi-Fi signal from your smartphone.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Smartphone users now face another way of being located.

Navizon I.T.S. (Indoor Triangulation System) is a new system from the location services company that can track the whereabouts of people in public places through their phones and other Wi-Fi devices. Geared toward retail stores, shopping malls, museums, office buildings, and similar spots, the technology can be used for security and surveillance or just to measure the traffic patterns in a certain area.

The company poses a few specific ways in which the system can come into play, including monitoring approved Wi-Fi devices in a secure area, locating Wi-Fi devices on a campus, determining how many smartphone users are at a trade show, and even helping people navigate their way around an unfamiliar area.

At first glance, the technology sounds like the one used on "Star Trek" where a crewmember could be located anywhere on the ship through the person's comm badge. Such a system worked fine on the harmonious environment of the Enterprise. But it opens up privacy concerns for those of us living in the 21th century -- consider the heat that Apple, Google, and others have taken over smartphone location tracking and Wi-Fi network geolocation .

The system is obviously not as advanced as the one on Star Trek. Navizon's technology can pin down your location but not necessarily your identity since it just picks up the Wi-Fi signal from your phone, says MIT's Technology Review.

Of course, since the signature of each Wi-Fi signal is unique, an organization could keep track of certain signatures to detect any patterns. But associating you with your device wouldn't be possible without your knowledge and awareness, Technology Review added.

And there are some benefits to smartphone users, such as the ability to locate your own position in a building or store.

Still, it does add to the ever-growing number of ways that technology users can easily be located today, and usually without us even knowing about it.

 

How Navizon I.T.S. Works

 

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