Locative Lab

researching locative media

Bluetoothtracking


I plugged in a 100-meter USB bluetooth adaptor and I noticed names of phones/devices with bluetooth in the area popping up on my computer screen. This was when the idea to set up a network of scanners around my town (Apeldoorn, the Netherlands) to track people was born.

I then set up 5 locations with a little USB bluetooth stick in each location to collect data. There has to be an internet connection at those locations. Therefore I am using locations where my family and friends live. They ‘lend’ me the space and the bandwidth. To keep the budget low I am using Capio’s (Windows CE powered terminals). By reprogramming the Disk on Chip module inside I could run Linux (DSL) on the device and script it. The data collected would be sent to and processed in a central database (running MySQL). The end-result is what you will see on these pages.

Schematic display of current setup. The bluetooth device comes within range of the sensor. The sensor reports the date, time, MAC address and device name to a central database.Schematic display of current setup. The bluetooth device comes within range of the sensor. The sensor reports the date, time, MAC address and device name to a central database.

Schematic display of current setup. The bluetooth device comes within range of the sensor. The sensor reports the date, time, MAC address and device name to a central database.

 

 The amount of data collected from just those 5 locations was impressive. Within a month after I set the network up, I registered over 15,000 unique mobile-phones,carkits, pda’s, navigation systems and many other devices. The matches of phones/devices with bluetooth between locations were obvious. Some phones that were picked up by the sensor in the city center were also picked up by the sensor in other locations. Some of these matches were only minutes apart. Therefore I could even calculate the approximate speed of someone moving from one location to another.

Whenever someone turns on the visible mode on his bluetooth phone/device, it could in theory be picked up by one of the sensors in the network. The sensor usually picks up the MAC id of the phone/device (a unique heximal code) and sometimes, the broadcast name. This name can be changed by the user. So far, some interesting names have been picked up by my sensors. Some people even used the broadcast name as a statement.

The challenge in this project is the amount of data collected. My database server can be lightning fast but at times, e.g. during the day, the same query takes very long.

http://www.bluetoothtracking.org/

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About

Cityscape LocativeLab.org is Ronald Lenz's research website on locative & mobile media. This is mostly an archive of blogposts I find inspiring and interesting and an overview of my work. I'm a strategist, technologist and researcher in the field of Location-Based Mobile Services and work at Waag Society, a medialab in Amsterdam, The Netherlands where I head the Locative Media research program and at 7scenes, a platform for GPS games and tours as creative director. Picture 4 Find me at Twitter, LinkedIn or via ronald [at] waag [dot] org.

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