PlaceEngine is a program that enables users to determine their location using their computer. This program is a positioning application similar to Global Positioning System or GPS that allows users to pinpoint their exact location anywhere in the globe using a computer or a handheld GPS tracker. PlaceEngine works by using Wi-Fi signals captured by the user’s computer from other remote Wi-Fi devices in order to pinpoint the user’s exact location. This program serves as an alternative to GPS since Wi-Fi signals can penetrate basements and other locations that GPS signals find difficulty penetrating. PlaceEngine determines the user’s location by measuring the distance travelled by a signal from the LAN wireless access point to another. Another method used by the program is by measuring the decrease of signal strength as it travels through a surface. These data are then sent to the program’s online server and database where it is plotted in a map showing the user’s location.
PlaceEngine’s positioning database works mostly for locations in Japan but is currently being developed to include other locations around the globe. This program provides an accurate position report in a minimum distance of 5 meters. The program can be integrated to a handheld device such as a smart phone or a tablet PC and in web pages. PlaceEngine features a user interface that comprises of a digital map, and viewing tools used in zooming in and out of a location and placing markers.