About PlaceEngine

What is PlaceEngine?

PlaceEngine is a service that makes it possible for users to easily estimate current location by utilizing Wi-Fi devices, so that they can find out more about their surroundings and gain access to local information. Any device equipped with Wi-Fi can easily estimate its location without utilizing GPS. PlaceEngine uses Wi-Fi information sent from Wi-Fi access points, enabling a device to determine its location even indoors or underground, where it might normally not be possible with GPS.

The following steps outline how PlaceEngine can estimate a device's location and provides location related information:

  1. First, download and install the PlaceEngine Client software
  2. The PlaceEngine Client scans nearby Wi-Fi access points and collects Wi-Fi information (such as MAC address, RSSI, etc).
  3. Next, the PlaceEngine Client sends this Wi-Fi information to the PlaceEngine server
  4. The PlaceEngine server estimates the device's location (latitude/longitude, address, etc) from the Wi-Fi information sent from the Client software and Wi-Fi information database maintained at the server, and finally returns this location information back to the Client software.
  5. The PlaceEngine Client can work in conjunction with web pages such as the PlaceEngine MAP site. Users can click the "Get Location" button to display a map of the current location on the web page and gain access to location related service sites based on the estimated current position, that may provide information on nearby restaurants, shops, train stations, etc.

Accuracy of Location Estimation

The accuracy of the location estimated by PlaceEngine, depends on the Wi-Fi signals that can be sensed at a given time and place which is affected by many factors (one such factor is access point density), as well as the information stored in the Wi-Fi database in the PlaceEngine server. Thus, it is difficult to determine the precise accuracy of the PlaceEngine service, but to give a rough estimation we believe it to be on the order of 5 to 100 meters.

Estimation Requirements and Coverage Area

The following conditions must be met in order for PlaceEngine to estimate a device's current location.

  1. There must be at least one Wi-Fi access point that can be scanned by the PlaceEngine Client software
  2. Wi-Fi information regarding access points in the device's vicinity is available in the database on the PlaceEngine server

Even if the current location cannot be determined because access point information in a given area has not been registered in our database, by having users explicitly registering their current locations via the PlaceEngine service, anyone can contribute and help increase the overall coverage area. Furthermore, if the location estimated by PlaceEngine is inaccurate, users can explicitly specify precise location information to influence the accuracy of future estimated results.

PlaceEngine Coverage Area

The map shown below indicates PlaceEngine's coverage area domestically within Japan.

To see if your area is covered, enter a Japanese address into the field below and press "Search".

(View as of Tuesday March 7th, 2017 - updated every week)

PlaceEngine's coverage area is unique in that you can expand it to include your area by registering your current position with us. It only takes a minute, so click here now!