Mobile World Congress 2011 Barcelona, Spain
Day 4: 2/17/11
Spirit Telecom Tracks GPS Inside
Location Technology Assessment
This company claims that its software GPS solution will receive GPS signals for location inside when other GPS product do not work. They claim location can be accomplished when the signal level is only at -172 dbm while other chips operate in the range of -140 to 163 dbm. It was claimed that in a normal work environment their technology will acquire GPS 60% to 70% of the time. At MWC the company was seeking to license its technology and claimed it had fruitful discussions.
The technology allows also for location updating from WiFi signals. Cold start TTFF is from 30s to 5 min. In an open environment the cold start TTFF is from 20s to 60s. Power consumption is 100 MIPS during acquisition but it was claimed in update mode it was near Zero MIPS.
Location Technology Assessment
At MWC we found 3 personal navigator platforms from InvenSense, CSR and STMicroelectronics. These platforms are the basis for indoor navigation using MEMS sensors and a compass. InvenSense is the clear leader, They were showing the best demos and have had working products in the market longer than any other company. The performance of the personal navigators is directly tied to the software, which InvenSense calls the Motion Processor, Based on what was seen in demos accuracy of 3 – 5m is achievable and that it does not drift. For best long term performance updating with WiFi location information is a significant benefit. However, InvenSense stated that this need not be precision location but enough information to better predict stride length.
Based on what was seen at MWC one can assume that the personal navigator space is reaching a point, at least in the next year that off the shelf components can be bought which will provide consistent and sustainable 3 – 5m navigation indoors. This is a significant gain from prior DR technologies. With this capability the emphasis clearly shifts to software. It was stated that the software goal is one API which seamlessly enables outdoor and indoor navigation. It is clear Google is well ahead here. They not only see the importance of such technology and most importantly this is consistent with their business model. Location is important in local ad sales. The next major step is indoor mapping. Various disparate technologies surfaced here at MWC also. Due to the massive data base required this will take longer to realize. But again Google appears to be well ahead.
We are at the threshold of a quantum leap in the location marketplace – indoor is at near parity with outdoor, at least in terms of the ability to navigate with components which reside in a phone and can operate with sufficient power to remain on all the time. But the marketplace will take some time to catch-up with the technology. The same situation existed with outdoor and the role that GPS has played. LBS has yet to really take off. But the work of Apple in the iPhone to achieve a quantum leap in location performance by using SkyHook technologies, and for free on the iPhone, changed the game. Based on what was seen at this MWC that same quantum leap is shaping up but now based on Google’s leadership.
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