Many users of smartphones may be able to identify with the inconvenience of Wifi’s and GPS navigation’s quick drain on their device’s battery. Technology companies are working on that in the form of two new positioning chip prototypes (one that includes flash) that will require surprisingly low amounts of power (as little as 10 mW total).
The difference is in the prototypes’ access to different measuring instrumentation to help calculate more accurate coordinates. Current rival chips still rely primarily only on GPS, as well as other similar systems like Russia’s GLONASS, to triangulate position. The prototype positioning chips incorporate the new-ish trend of “consulting” a magnetometer, accelerometer and gyroscope by comparing the appropriate measurement device with current GPS data and correcting for errors.
Tweaking GPS Accuracy
The internal comparison method has been since used in aiding technology companies developing GPS navigation for cars to gain the most accurate speed, location, and route anticipation possible. The supplemental information to GPS provided by magnetometers, accelerometers, and gyroscopes has provided navigation systems with an even greater boost in precision than using previous methods (which act much as a normal mobile device or smartphone would in calculating an approximate location when fresh data is lacking).
The allowance for alternative calculation (other than GPS) answered the problem designers of internal car navigation systems were faced with when their GPS devices lost or distorted the signal from satellites or cell phone towers because of tall buildings or large formations obstructing communication. The navigation system would then have to assume the next current location without being updated; researchers had put the amount of distance off by 49 feet. But with accelerometers and gyroscopes measuring velocity changes and feeding those updates to GPS, that margin of accuracy has narrowed to an impressive 3-7 feet.
Improving on Last Year’s Model
The use of additional measurement instrumentation seems guaranteed to bring the functionality of GPS positioning chips and GPS navigation to an all time record high. Battery life in smartphones, mobile devices, or tablets will be significantly boosted, and the technology will be instrumental in the further development of smart or unmanned vehicles.