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Improve iPhone's 'Locate Me' Accuracy

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Apple posted a Knowledge Base article points to this SkyHook Wireless page that allows you to enter corrections to Skyhook's wifi mapping.

Skyhook provides the GPS-like location features in the iPhone and iPod Touch. It accomplishes this by a combination of Wifi and Cellular tower locations. To seed their database, Skyhook sent out teams of drivers to correlate hotspot locations with their geographic location. Over time, as Wifi base stations are moved, the accuracy can drift.

Skyhook's submission system allows you to correct these incorrectly labeled Wifi basestations.



Article Link
 

mainstreetmark

macrumors 68020
May 7, 2003
2,228
293
Saint Augustine, FL
"Teams of Drivers"? They paid people to just drive around the world for a few months? How did they manage that! Seems like it would cost a fortune to build that database.

I wonder if the iPhone "automatically" can do this. That is, when you spot a wifi, AND you're being triangulated, publish that result, and eventually, you'll get a "good guess" as to where the wifi radio is.
 
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ert3

macrumors 6502a
Dec 10, 2007
802
0
I was really wondering why this wasn't available from the get go.

I have two wifi points in a very porely mapped neighborhood and I am certain that some one would appretiate a way around.

Not to mention the more we build the data base the more we can shut-up those voyager users.
 
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Peel

macrumors 6502a
Aug 30, 2004
576
85
Seattle
MAC address needed

I just added my home router, but prolly won't be able to add any others I frequent, because the submission form requires you to add the MAC address of the router. Does anyone know of a way to get a router's MAC address if you don't have physical access to it, or can't log into the router's admin page?
 
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wcbarksdale

macrumors newbie
Mar 12, 2008
2
0
I just added my home router, but prolly won't be able to add any others I frequent, because the submission form requires you to add the MAC address of the router. Does anyone know of a way to get a router's MAC address if you don't have physical access to it, or can't log into the router's admin page?

Try something like istumbler http://www.istumbler.net/
 
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iVoid

macrumors 65816
Jan 9, 2007
1,133
158
I just added my home router, but prolly won't be able to add any others I frequent, because the submission form requires you to add the MAC address of the router. Does anyone know of a way to get a router's MAC address if you don't have physical access to it, or can't log into the router's admin page?

iStumbler will let you see what Wi-fi access points are near by. And give you the mac addresses.
 
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shadowfax

macrumors 603
Sep 6, 2002
5,849
0
Houston, TX
I just added my home router, but prolly won't be able to add any others I frequent, because the submission form requires you to add the MAC address of the router. Does anyone know of a way to get a router's MAC address if you don't have physical access to it, or can't log into the router's admin page?

I am pretty sure that when the wireless router feeds your computer an IP address (I am assuming DHCP), that it uses its own MAC address to "authenticate" itself to you.

Here's one way to get any wireless router's MAC Address: First, you need to find out the router's IP address. Usually, it is the first address in the subnet, so if your address is 192.168.0.x, probably the router is 192.168.0.1.

Now, you can either run the Mac OS X Network Utility (in /Applications/Utilities) and click the "Netstat" tab, then select "display routing table information" and click "Netstat" below, OR you can open a Terminal window and type "netstat -r" followed by <return>. Either way you will get an output like this:

Code:
Routing tables

Internet:
Destination        Gateway            Flags    Refs      Use  Netif Expire
[COLOR="Lime"]default            10.0.1.1           UGSc       15       53    en1[/COLOR]
10.0.1/24          link#6             UCS         1        0    en1
[COLOR="Red"]10.0.1.1           0:1c:62:d1:1b:b1   UHLW       12        6    en1    899[/COLOR]
10.0.1.39          localhost          UHS         0        0    lo0
10.37.129/24       link#7             UCS         0        0    en2
10.37.129.2        localhost          UHS         0        0    lo0
10.211.55/24       link#8             UCS         0        0    en3
10.211.55.2        localhost          UHS         0        0    lo0
127                localhost          UCS         0        0    lo0
localhost          localhost          UH          2     8470    lo0
169.254            link#6             UCS         0        0    en1

when you look at the table, you should verify that the default gateway (1st entry, marked "default" in the left column, highlighted in green above) is the same as what you found it to be, and then look for the address in the 2nd column just to the right of "default," find the matching entry with that address in the leftmost column. Above that's in red. In that entry, look at the text in the second column. That should be the base station's MAC address.

Note that the above is NOT my router's MAC, I garbled it up for security reasons.
 
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Buschmaster

macrumors 65816
Feb 12, 2006
1,306
26
Minnesota
Has anyone noticed if this is instant? I think what I'll do is add a bunch of the routers in my Universities area and I'll add a bunch around my house when I'm there. If everyone keeps adding these from time to time it can only get better.

Sure it's not real GPS but I've never had problems with it. It would seem like if you don't know where you actually are you have bigger fish to fry than finding directions to the nearest Caribou.

The only thing I would like about GPS is it announcing directions as you go through the trip, but I get by just fine without it.
 
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tm1000

macrumors member
Sep 18, 2007
77
0
This is what it looks like:

Thank you for submitting a Wireless Access Point to Skyhook Wireless. The following information has been received and will be processed shortly:

MAC Address: ##-##-##-##-##-##
Lat/Lon: ##.233382, -###.######

It can take up to a few weeks before you see your Access Point in some of our production systems. In the mean time you can download Loki to start using Skyhook's Wi-Fi Positioning System on your laptop or desktop. Go to http://loki.com/download to start using Loki today.

Happy Mapping!

The Skyhook Team
 
Comment

ramuman

macrumors regular
Mar 7, 2005
222
0
This is what it looks like:

Thank you for submitting a Wireless Access Point to Skyhook Wireless. The following information has been received and will be processed shortly:

MAC Address: ##-##-##-##-##-##
Lat/Lon: ##.233382, -###.######

It can take up to a few weeks before you see your Access Point in some of our production systems. In the mean time you can download Loki to start using Skyhook's Wi-Fi Positioning System on your laptop or desktop. Go to http://loki.com/download to start using Loki today.

Happy Mapping!

The Skyhook Team

I am often unsure where I am when using my desktop ;).
 
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Kazr

macrumors newbie
Jun 14, 2007
7
0
Lincs, UK
Bit of a bodge

Why not just put a GPS chipset in the phone and be done with it - would be much more accurate and wouldn't require user feedback to maintain. :confused:
 
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wallinbl

macrumors regular
Jan 11, 2003
112
0
Why not just put a GPS chipset in the phone and be done with it - would be much more accurate and wouldn't require user feedback to maintain. :confused:

Yep. This is a pretty sorry substitute for GPS. I have an iPhone and a BB8800. I never use the iPhone for location because it's not good.
 
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GravityEyes

macrumors regular
Aug 14, 2007
170
0
Nashville, TN
Why is everyone so crazy to GPS on the phone .... so imagine how hard it will be to drive with a device that plays your music, places calls - and gives directions --- what a mess!!

No thanks, my Garmin is just fine .... and larger screen.
 
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genshi

macrumors 6502a
Jun 27, 2007
666
80
Portland, Oregon
"Teams of Drivers"? They paid people to just drive around the world for a few months? How did they manage that! Seems like it would cost a fortune to build that database.

Actually, they pay $20 per hour for this. They just posted an ad in my area looking for drivers. They provide the scanning device and I have to methodically drive around in a grid pattern as the scanner logs all hotspots that it sniffs out (protected or not.)
 
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jdcoffman

macrumors newbie
May 3, 2005
14
0
Columbia, MO
I've just added my router.

Would it be legal to add other peoples routers on there?

Yes of course it is, that's how they have this database, it's just a mesh of all the routers they could sniff out when driving around.

I've added around 20 of them since I first read this article, granted these are placed I frequent and I know where I am... but hopefully it'll help someone else.

I also posted to the Skyhook support site (on Satisfaction), and they said if you're the admin for a large number of routers (like at a university or mall for instance) you could send them a list of all the mac addresses of your routers and they could add them all at once into the system for you.
 
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rtdunham

macrumors 6502a
Jun 21, 2003
983
77
St. Petersburg, FL, Northern KY
A weird anomalie?

...Sure it's not real GPS but I've never had problems with it. ...

No one here seems aware there can be some real anomalies with this service.

Although Locate Me has worked well for me in many places, it locates my house one county, three cities and eight miles from its actual location. It does this with wifi on and with wifi off. I reported my router's MAC address to the company three weeks ago.(SEE NOTE AT BOTTOM) Still no change.

I'm more interested in WHY and HOW this can happen, than i am with the fact that it IS happening: If it can happen here then ANY time i use Locate Me i should allow for an eight mile margin of error (I should add i'm in a suburban residential area of Greater Cincinnati).

One theory was that my next door neighbor (or I) might be using a router that was located in that eight-mile-away-spot when the mapping was done. But we both bought our routers new from stores, stores not in that area, incidentally. Could it be some weird cell tower situation that screws up the triangulation?

Dunno, but i'd like to. The error is embarrassing when displaying my iPhone to friends at my house (I'm otherwise a big fan) and undermines confidence in the feature wherever i am.

NOTE: Ten houses away in any direction i get an accurate read. On one occasion I've gotten a precise location only 100 feet from my lot line. But thru about a dozen other tests at different times i've never been able to replicate that single "hit".

Any ideas?

NOTE: i used iStumbler (thank you wcbarksdale) tonight and it sniffed a different MAC address for my router than the one labeled on it. I re-submitted that MAC address and four others it identified and we'll see whether my results have improved in several weeks.
 
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RevolutionOne

macrumors member
Feb 5, 2008
89
0
Essex, UK
This is great, I added the router I use at home a few days ago and just tested the locate me when using wifi and it found my house. Before I added it, it circled a massive area which was useless
 
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gnasher729

macrumors P6
Nov 25, 2005
17,388
4,614
Yep. This is a pretty sorry substitute for GPS. I have an iPhone and a BB8800. I never use the iPhone for location because it's not good.

Actually, it works better than GPS in a few places. GPS doesn't work well in major cities, when you are enclosed from all sides by tall buildings and don't get decent reception. And that is exactly the situation where it is most likely that some router is nearby and you get your location that way.
 
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