Saturday, 15 December 2007

Localization Beyond GPS

GPS is quite common now and is found more and more in mobile applications via the integration of a unit inside smartphones (such as the HTC P3600). GPS for the moment is seen as the better technology for localization for mobile phones versus its alternative which is to use signal noise ratios combined with the cell the phone is registered on (BTW this is how the My Location option works in Google Maps on mobile when no GPS is available).

A Utah based company, S5 Wireless aim to change this dependence on GPS by introducing what they call a new disruptive technology in the localization domain. Their technology is based on a set of proprietary wireless emitters and receivers that can be deployed anywhere (both indoors and outdoors). They claim that they will be able to achieve a 10m to 15m accuracy! Nice!

To be honest, there is nothing really new technology wise in what they are doing. It is still a type of triangulation (using multiple radios sources, time to receive and signal noise ratios) to determine the device location. However what seems to be innovative is that they will be distributing/releasing the radio components for very little or zero cost. Their business model is that they will provide and resale acess to the back-end database that controls and ensures data integrity for the location data! A sort of federate or trusted data model, or as the company says the equivalent of Lojack or Onstar.

More information in this CIO Today article.