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M.Sc. Teemu Pulkkinen defends his doctoral thesis “Supporting the WLAN Positioning Lifecycle” on Wednesday the 19th of August 2020 at 12 o’clock. His opponent is Professor Mikkel Baun Kjærgaard (University of Southern Denmark, Denmark) and custos Associate Professor Petteri Nurmi (University of Helsinki). The defence will be held in English. Live stream: at https://helsinki.zoom.us/j/65906481101?pwd=M2k0d29QdGg1bStvZWxQV3lmR2lRUT09

The advent of GPS positioning at the turn of the millennium provided consumers with worldwide access to outdoor location information. For the purposes of indoor positioning, however, the GPS signal rarely penetrates buildings well enough to maintain the same level of positioning granularity as outdoors.

Arriving around the same time, wireless local area networks (WLAN) have gained widespread support both in terms of infrastructure deployments and client proliferation.  A promising approach to bridge the location context then has been positioning based on WLAN signals. In addition to being readily available in most environments needing support for location information, the adoption of a WLAN positioning system is financially low-cost compared to dedicated infrastructure approaches, partly due to operating on an unlicensed frequency band. Furthermore, the accuracy provided by this approach is enough for a wide range of location-based services, such as navigation and location-aware advertisements.

In spite of this attractive proposition and extensive research in both academia and industry, WLAN positioning has yet to become the de facto choice for indoor positioning. This is despite over 20 000 publications and the foundation of several companies. The main reasons for this include: (i) the cost of deployment, and re-deployment, which is often significant, if not prohibitive, in terms of work hours; (ii) the complex propagation of the wireless signal, which — through interaction with the environment — renders it inherently stochastic; (iii) the use of an unlicensed frequency band, which means the wireless medium faces fierce competition by other technologies, and even unintentional radiators, that can impair traffic in unforeseen ways and impact positioning accuracy.

This thesis addresses these issues by developing novel solutions for reducing the effort of deployment, including optimizing the indoor location topology for the use of WLAN positioning, as well as automatically detecting sources of cross-technology interference. These contributions pave the way for WLAN positioning to become as ubiquitous as the underlying technology.