back to article Tufts boffins track device location without GPS or towers

Tufts University boffins believe the combination of 5G and the Internet of Things will make it impossible for networks to track the expected tens of billions of connected devices. Their answer, proposed in this week's Proceedings of the IEEE, is an algorithm that places less importance on anchors like base stations or GPS …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Wide spectrum of means and mechanisms

    IVP6 is supposed to have the capacity to carry the interface id of the device so in the scenario where all devices are required to have theirs in their address it would be more trackable, checking the authenticity of the address where it appears odd might b e the challenge

    1. handleoclast

      Re: Wide spectrum of means and mechanisms

      checking the authenticity of the address where it appears odd might b e the challenge

      So that's half of all the addresses where you're going to have problems.

      Why are even addresses easier to authenticate?

  2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Yeay for this. Just what the world really needs. A better way to track people.

    AIUI tracks you to the relative distance of a bunch of IoT devices, and presumably works outward from there till you get to nodes that are a)Capable of saying their their map coordinates or b)Are at a fixed location which is listed on some kind of accessible data base.

    Tuft University. Now on my list of ethics free engineering courses.

    No doubt going to be eagerly snapped up by various keen users of this sort of tech.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yeay for this. Just what the world really needs. A better way to track people.

      I don't see how you'll get around it. There will be so many 5G devices that are in fixed locations - one can easily imagine that future road infrastructure will be littered with 5G to help autonomous cars. So just like someone with access to the list of wifi access points your phone can see could pinpoint your location if they had a massive database of wifi APs, so could one pinpoint the position of your phone, car or anything else that could see what devices are nearby in 5G frequencies.

      Even way out in the wilderness, one could easily imagine there will eventually be plenty of 5G devices to help monitor/manage wildlife, detect fires, collect weather information, etc. The hills around LA are covered with wildlife cameras to track cougars and what not, and currently someone has to hike out to them and collect the footage on a regular basis. In a few years that will be automatic, but Google will know if you carry a 5G capable Android device in the vicinity of one of them...

    2. Francis Boyle

      Seems to me

      less tracking technology and more straightforward position finding technology. The only difference from GPS that I can see is that it will require a certain percentage of devices to reveal their location. But that doesn't need to include you if you don't want it.

  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    On the upside it simplifes the equations so they can be run on local IoT nodes

    IOW the accuracy of the fix is dependent on that software.

    Which will be

    a) Cut & pasted from Stackexchange

    b) Written by some code monkey in some faraway software factory.

    All with the scrupulous QC that is the hallmark of the IoT development process.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Offloading positioning to the devices makes it . . ."

    . . possible for hackers and criminals to fudge the system. What's that, Your Honor ? Of course I wasn't robbing that house last week. Check my phone, you'll see that I was on holiday in Spain at that time. I only got back yesterday. Can I go now ?

    1. Chozo

      Re: "Can I go now ?"

      Sure, right after we scan the chip embedded in your cranium at birth by our alien overlords.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: "Offloading positioning to the devices makes it . . ."

      I can't wait till another group of researchers uses this to prove that you can mess the positioning up enough to cause navigation systems to mess up. I assume it won't actually happen, but just imagine a ton of evil devices on a road all sending out their actual location shifted left by five meters.

      Satnav: "You need to be in the right lane now."

      Driver: I think I'm already there.

      Satnav: Move to the right.

      Driver (requires brain cell shortage, so we know that won't be a problem): *drives into lake*

      Satnav: "You need to move even more to the right now. You need to be in the right lane for this next turn."

      Although it's actually more likely that people use this mechanism to crash drones.

      1. Borg.King

        Re: "Offloading positioning to the devices makes it . . ."

        "Although it's actually more likely that people use this mechanism to crash drones."

        That'll be Die Hard 2 then.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. mbiggs

    Quote: "...their location “relative to each other"...."


    Don't understand....even if ALL the devices know their position "relative to each other", at least ONE of them needs an absolute position so that the others can figure out where they are.


    Oh, and by the way, there will never be any IOT devices here at Linux no probs here!

  7. EveryTime

    Toss this into the bin "5G will Change Everything".

  8. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    So people need more bandwidth to report their position, which they don't want to report?

    Circular argument detected?

  9. onefang

    I'm wondering how the GPS system strains when there's billions more devices using it? Made no sense to me, or did I read that wrong. GPS is a broadcast only system, doesn't make any difference how many receivers there are.

    1. j.bourne

      Ah, but to use GPS requires GPS receivers which cost ££$$ (or whatever your currency of choice is). Talking to the thing* next to you is much cheaper than hardware.

      *Internet of Thing device: Know why they called it that ? 'cos they don't know what these things are or what their actual purpose is. (besides spying, eavesdropping, reporting location).

      Press the 'esc' key and give me the ... sdcard?

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