Int. Workshop on Frontiers of Information Technology, 06
station, post office, movie-theater, bus, or automatedteller machine. To comply with E911, vendors areexploring several RF techniques, including antennaproximity, angulation using phased antenna arrays,lateration via signal attenuation and time of flight, aswell as GPS-enabled handsets that transmit theircomputed location to the cellular system. Thepositioning is less accurate and ranges from 150meters to 300 meters depending on the techniqueused.
3.6 Global Positioning System
Global Positioning System  is the most commonlocation finding system that covers the entire earthsurface. GPS uses a collection of low-orbit satellites.These satellites send radio signals to the earth. AnyGPS enabled device can receive these signals andfind its location using these signals. There are somelimitations of GPS systems. The radio signals sentby GPS satellites are too weak to penetrate buildingsetc. GPS functionality is lost in cities becausebuildings absorb GPS signals or scatter them inmulti-path reflections. Consequently, GPS workswell outdoors but poorly indoors where peoplespend most of their time. GPS has been theprevailing location system in way findingapplications and navigations, but has little use inother application domains.
3.7 Other Systems
RADAR  is a building-wide tracking systembased on the IEEE 802.11 WaveLAN wirelessnetworking technology developed by MicrosoftResearch group. MotionStar  is a tracking systemwhich can sense precise physical positions relativeto the magnetic transmitting antenna. MicrosoftResearch’s “Easy Living” uses computer visiontechnology to find the location of objects .
4. The Middleware
As discussed in the previous section, there arenumerous location sensing systems with variantprecision and confidence levels. There is a need of integrating these systems using a middlewareinfrastructure. The middleware can also provide anabstraction layer to location-aware applications,separating them from location detection and sensingtechnologies. The main issues addressed by amiddleware are :
Integrating various location technologies togive a unified view of the location of mobileobjects.
Handling conflicting information fromvarious sensors in the system.
Maintaining an updated model of thephysical arrangement of the environment.
Deducing spatial relationships betweenmobile objects and their physicalenvironment.
Associating a probability value of accuracywith location information & spatialrelationships.To address these issues, middleware must possesthe following features:
Middleware should fuseinformation gathered from variety of systems andrepresent it in a way such that conflicting data ishandled appropriately.
Managing Data Confidence:
Managing theconfidence level of location data is very important toensure its freshness. The quality of data degradeswith the passage of time. Therefore, its confidencelevel must be reduced when it becomes older.
Conversion between Location Models:
Themiddleware should support both types of locationmodels i.e. coordinate based, and symbolic. Acoordinate based model shows location data in theform of (x, y, z) coordinates whereas a symbolicmodel assigns names to different locations (such asbuildings, floors or rooms). A middleware shouldalso support conversion between the two types.
Supporting Push & Pull Modes:
Location-awareapplications can interact with the upper most layer of middleware using either push or pull mode. Theycan query about the current location of objects orcan receive notification whenever a particularlocation-based condition turns out to be true.
Handling Location References:
Locationinformation can be of two types: Object-basedinformation is in the form “Where is X located?”,and region-based information is in the form “Whoelse is present where X is present?”
Deducing Spatial Relationships:
Middlewareshould know how to infer spatial relationshipsbetween mobile objects and their physicalenvironment.
Predicting Future Location:
Due to technologicaland cost constraints, the location-time pairs providedby a location system may be minutes or hours apart.It is, therefore, necessary to predict the location of an object based on previous information.Sections 5 to 9 deal with the main components of middleware (see Figure 1) whereas section 10 showshow these components are integrated.