Skyhook Wireless announced last week the commercial availability of the Wi-Fi Positioning System (WPS), for deployment across the largest 25 metropolitan areas of the United States. The WPS system locates precisely any Wi-Fi enabled device, including a PC, laptop, PDA, Tablet PC, Smartphone or RFID tag, without adding any new hardware, the company said in a statement. The WPS client software uses a reference database of over 1.5 million private and public access points to calculate a device's location to within 20-40 meters. The Location Based Services Market (LBS) has been hampered to date by the limitations of traditional positioning systems, which call for new hardware in mobile devices, require line-of-site views of orbiting satellites, and suffer from reliability issues in urban areas, according to Skyhook. “Skyhook's novel WPS offering takes new advantage of the huge (and still rapidly growing) installed base of Wi-Fi access points,” said Craig Mathias, a principal with wireless and mobile advisory firm, Farpoint Group. “We see wide-area positioning services like WPS as key to future mobile commerce, location-based services, tracking, mapping public safety, and many other applications. The opportunity is huge.” Key features of the Skyhook Wireless Wi-Fi Positioning System include: -- Metro area positioning - coverage extends 10-15 miles from downtown centers -- No line of site requirement - works equally well indoors and outdoors -- Urban reliability - WPS performs best in dense urban environments -- Instant location - WPS takes less than second to calculate location -- Signal fingerprinting - Detailed channel modeling techniques provide accurate and consistent readings -- Self-healing network - WPS users optimize the reference database while using the system -- Virtual GPS capability - WPS is NMEA compliant including velocity and bearing calculations