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UW CSE and Intel Labs win inaugural SIGMOBILE Test of Time Award

Gaetano Borriello, Anthony LaMarca, Jeff Hightower“Test of Time” awards recognize research papers that, with the benefit of a decade’s hindsight, are viewed as having had particularly great impact.

SIGMOBILE, the Association for Computing Machinery’s special interest group focused on mobile computing and communications, has just introduced a Test of Time award and has selected Place Lab: Device Positioning Using Radio Beacons in the Wild as one of the inaugural winners.

Place Lab was a collaboration between researchers at UW CSE, Intel Research Seattle, Intel Research Cambridge, UC San Diego and the UW iSchool. The project ushered in a new era of location-aware computing and laid the foundation for many of the mobile apps that people take for granted today, from checking the weather forecast, to choosing a restaurant, to navigating their commute. The work of the Place Lab team helped to revolutionize mobile computing—and many other industries along with it.

In its award citation, SIGMOBILE hailed Place Lab as “a seminal effort to achieve accurate localization of mobile devices using existing infrastructure. It showed through painstaking experiments that leveraging a combination of Wi-Fi and GSM beacons enabled positioning with 20-30 meter median accuracy and close to 100% coverage throughout a major metropolitan area. The work directly informed localization techniques that have come to be used in billions of mobile devices.”

The Place Lab team included the late UW CSE professor Gaetano Borriello; Ph.D. alum and affiliate faculty member Anthony LaMarca, then a member of Intel Labs and now Intel Principal Engineer at the Intel Science & Technology Center at the UW; Ph.D. alum Jeff Hightower, now an engineering manager at Google; and then-bachelor’s students James Howard, Jeff Hughes and Fred Potter.

This is the second such award for Place Lab—a paper describing other aspects of the work captured the 10-year Impact Award at UbiComp 2015. Read the original research paper here, and learn more about the SIGMOBILE Test of Time Award here.

Congratulations to the entire team!