Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ericsson: Small chip is big news for LBS

Engineers in Sweden and the US have recently developed the world's smallest GPS chip, which offers all the services and functionality of chips many times its size. This will allow operators to provide more accurate location-based services as well as new services for consumers.The chip is roughly the size of a piece of confetti (3.79x 3.59 x 0.6mm). Because of its small size the chip's developers foresee it finding its way into a multitude of electronic devices, such as mobile phones, PDAs, car navigation systems, digital cameras, MP3 players, radios, WiFi cards, Bluetooth devices and even bracelets and dog tags.Marijana Marincic, positioning team leader at Ericsson Mobile Platforms, says: "A smaller GPS chip means it can be put into more devices, which means more consumers will have GPS-enabled devices. For operators, this is an opportunity to expand their location-based services offerings."The chip's functions include supporting emergency calls, point-to-point navigation, real-time traffic information, an address finder, child location, find-a-friend, finding game partners, and business functions for travelers and taxi services.The reduced size, in conjunction with assisted GPS (A-GPS) technology, will enable improved location based services for consumers. A-GPS gets assistances from the mobile network or an internet based server, which greatly reduces the response time and increases the sensitivity of the GPS module. This means GPS enabled phones and other devices would be able to function where traditional GPS devices could not.While location-based services do not depend solely on GPS, GPS can provide greater location accuracy, reduced response time and more targeted services.Marincic explains: “With A-GPS enabled phones, consumers will be offered a vast number of new location services, such as location stamping of photos and video clips, navigation, and way finding. At the same time, already existing location services will provide much better accuracy."For example, with a GPS-enabled mobile, consumers can receive advertisements that are triggered by their location. As consumers are walking down a street, they can receive an ad offering a free cup of coffee at the cafe right in front of them. Whereas previous versions of this service, which used cell ID, were accurate to within only a block or two of the cafe, GPS will narrow the accuracy to a few metersTorbj√∂rn Lundahl, VP systems management & technology at DU Service Layer Development, agrees: "A small, inexpensive and energy-efficient GPS chip will lead to its inclusion in a lot of devices. The accuracy that GPS gives will open up a lot of new services for consumers that are today only available in expensive dedicated equipment.”

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