Friday, November 4, 2011

Smarter, Stronger, Indoor GPS Technology Coming Soon


Almost all of the smartphones that are available these days feature GPS navigation, as well as different location-based apps; however, that doesn’t mean that you want to use them all of the time. Using these features can drain the life right out of your phone. There are also issues with using such features indoors. Most of the time you cannot even get a GPS satellite to find you when you're inside.

These are all issues that could definitely use some good solutions. CSR announced that it is working on its next generation of GPS functions for cell phones, portable navigation devices and car systems. The company has announced three main new types of technology that they will be focusing on: SiRFstar V, SiRFusion, and SiRFprima II. These will improve some of the problems that there have been with GPS navigation and smartphones.

"Traditionally, when trying to solve satellite navigation problems [on a technical level], it's been in the car—such as with urban canyons and sight line issues," said Kanwar Chadha, CSR’s chief marketing officer and founder of SiRF. "To most extents, we have solved this problem [with SiRFstar V]. However, we're still in a very early stage of what I call the indoor navigation experience, when using Wi-Fi or cellular connections, for example."

Basically, the issue right now is that developers need to find a way to make location awareness available everywhere. They also need to figure out how to provide users with a seamless experience when they transition from being outside to inside. This technology will be especially useful in places like museums, malls, hospitals, university campuses and airports.

"We're seeing a fundamental shift in how devices will be built and how content will be made available," Chadha said. He went on to say that most manufacturers tend to focus on cloud computing; however, he prefers to spend his time looking into “cloud contenting.” This has to do with individual sensors and radios in different devices including accelerometers, gyroscopes and compasses.

The technology that Chadha likes to focus on would help with the battery draining issue. Instead of draining your battery every time that you utilize location-based features, something within the device would be able to take care of supervising and optimizing battery use when using the features, while also adding precision.

"Let's say you're sitting at a desk inside with your mobile device," Chadha said. "We can keep the location engine off until we receive a signal from the accelerometer that there is a movement. The device is still location aware, but until that happens, we aren't consuming any power."

Chadha also said that CSR is looking to make improvements to its automotive systems. He said that the plan is to move from self-contained systems to systems that are more connected through things like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and different links to the cloud.

"We're also trying to bring the cost factor down," Chadha said. "The idea is that a complete, connected automotive infotainment system with augmented reality should cost just a few hundred dollars, rather than a few thousand dollars like current in-car navigation systems."

These will all be some great improvements to both mobile devices and automotive systems. Hopefully, it will not take CSR too long to figure all of this out, because I know that I sure can’t wait! These upgrades could make a big difference in the way that we use GPS navigation.

Source: PCMag - Indoor GPS Coming Soon to Cell Phones


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