Inventor’s corner: Mobile Tracking
15 June 2012
Professor Kin K. Leung joined Imperial as Tanaka Professor of Internet Technology, following a 20-year research career in telecommunications at Bell Labs and is now Head of the Communications and Signal Processing Group (Electrical and Electronic Engineering). His research interests remain in telecommunications and he is working on a project that aims to push the boundaries of small cell technology for large-scale commercial applications.
What is meant by small cell technology?
Small cell technology is a term for cell communication with a range of tens of metres or even less: Wi-Fi, for instance. Femtocells are another example; these are cellular base stations that improve network coverage and capacity in small areas by using low transmission power, therefore reducing network interference.
How will you apply femtocell technology?
We want to apply the use of femtocells to large areas, such as shopping centres. If commercial businesses knew precise customer shopping patterns: where they stay, what they buy, they would be able to tailor their services and products accordingly. We call this concept mobility profiling. We can track customer locations as their mobile phones are connected to the closest femtocell and this tracking precision is enough to obtain valuable information for businesses. The tracking and profiling method allows us to maintain user confidentiality; once an individual’s data is collected, it is processed and absorbed into the profiling model parameters and can be instantly deleted.
How could this be developed further?
There are many potential applications. We could profile mobility between competing businesses or, with information from service providers, we could assess purchasing power against other factors, like age group and postcode. We recently filed our first patent application and plan to set up a spin-out company by the end of this year.
—Kailey Nolan, Imperial Innovations
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