Services like Find My iPhone and Where’s My Droid have been helping people relax for years. The relief that comes from knowing where your phone is and being able to lock it until you get there is amazing. However, what if you lose a device that does not connect to cellular networks, like most laptops. That is where PlaceEngine and the PlaceEngine API come in.
PlaceEngine has a way of providing device location using Wi-Fi. This service cross references registered access points to estimate the location of devices. Currently the company has coverage in Japan; coverage will grow as users continue to register access points. Under optimal circumstances the accuracy of PlaceEngine can be as narrow as 5 meters. On the subject of accuracy the PlaceEngine website has this to say:
“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.”
The PlaceEngine API is a RESTful API that returns data formatted in JSON or XML. The API allows developers to create custom applications that harness the power of Wi-Fi location. The PlaceEngine API is one of 396 mapping APIs in the ProgrammableWeb Directory.