As I was building out a device tracking system, I ran into an issue: it was notoriously unreliable. This system tracked entities by checking their connection to the WIFI network. It did this by querying the router as admin and pulling the connected devices list periodically. This works flawlessly… for about 12 hours. Eventually the router stops responding with an object our system can understand and instead sends a malformed list that effectively stops the system from updating. We needed a system that wasn’t reliant on the processing prowess of a free rental router.

For the answer, I’d like you to Enter The Matrix:

Trinity Using NMAP

Well, to be more specific, that scene is from The Matrix Reloaded. Trinity uses the program NMAP to scan the network of a powerplant for open ports so she could exploit the system. For our our purpose though, just pinging all the devices to see what’s connected is good enough. The usefulness of NMAP as a tool has actually been well documented in pop culture , so you might’ve seen it in a movie without even noticing.

With a system like this, people don’t need to install a GPS tracker on their device, they just need to connect to the WIFI. Although when it comes to device tracking, more methods are better, since we use a Bayesian approach to presence detection, where a multitude of sources are probabilistically intertwined to find the most likely state.

Device Updating

Sometimes the solutions to our problems come from being inspired.

Sometimes they’re dropped into your lap.