Information Technology Laboratory / Advanced Network Technology Division

Indoor Localization & Tracking Home Page


Firefighter checking his mobile device with a burning building and a fire truck in the background
Miners in an underground mine
A kindergarten or pre-K child with a localization device attached to his shirt

To the best of our knowledge, the earliest work at NIST on localization and tracking dates back to the pioneering work of William C. Stone in mid-1990s, who investigated the propagation of RF signals through construction materials. Stone studied the attenuation of the RF signal and its time-of-flight as it passed through a layer of construction material. He looked at various construction materials and layers of various thickness on the path between the transmitter and the receiver. Stone was interested in "where things are" at a construction site, and his work was applicable to both outdoor and indoor environments1, 2.

Research on indoor localization and tracking in the Advanced Network Technologies Division (ANTD) at NIST started in 2002 with the development of a Wi-Fi fingerprint localization system that employed a Markov chain human mobility model. The system was prototyped and tested on a laptop computer as well as a mobile device (called Personal Data Assistant or PDA back then) that showed the location of the person carrying the laptop/PDA on the floor plan of the building in real-time.

Considerable amount of work on indoor localization and tracking has been done at NIST ANTD since 2002. Our work falls in several categories, including basic research, development and prototyping of indoor Localization and Tracking Systems (LTSs), standardization, testing of LTSs, and working with various user communities and other federal government agencies to understand user requirements, operating conditions, and performance of various systems.

It would take considerable effort to describe and document all our past work since 2002. In lieu of that, we provide a publication list with electronic copies of papers, reports, and presentations. The primary focus of these web pages is on our recent/ongoing projects and activities.


1. William C. Stone, "NIST Construction Automation Program Report No. 1: Non-Line-of-Sight (NLS) Construction Metrology," NIST Internal Report (NISTIR) – 5825, February 1996
2. William C. Stone, "Electromagnetic Signal Attenuation in Construction Materials," NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 6055, October 1997