New chip takes GPS technology to cell phones

New chip takes GPS technology to cell phones

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Indoor GPS technology with a buddy list feature. That is how a San Jose, California company describes its new chip technology that brings satellite global positioning (GPS) services to wireless phones.

Global Locate recently introduced its GL-16000 GPS processor, which it claims is the first technology able to pick up signals indoors and uses negligible battery power — less than .0005 percent of the cell phone’s charge per location fix.

Development of the tiny chip, being manufactured and co-branded by Fujitsu Microelectronics, was spurred in part by the Federal Communications Commission’s Enhanced 911 (E911) mandate, requiring that mobile carriers be able to pinpoint precisely the location of emergency calls made on cell phones. In the U.S., all new wireless phones must be able to deliver a location for 911 calls by the end of this year.

Got Authorization?
According to Global Locate, a significant feature of the system is the ability to set up a buddy list, authorizing exactly who can track the location of a phone. Except for 911 emergency services, a person cannot be tracked by other cell users whose numbers have not been programmed into the phone carrying the GPS chip.

Staying on Track
In addition to the safety and security factor, the GPS chip offers convenience to cell phone users, Global Locate marketing vice president Frank van Diggelen said. For example, friends can avoid confusion over where they are supposed to meet by locating wayward members of the entourage via their cell phones.

He also said phone users will be able to receive driving directions with more portability and precision, because the tracking mechanism will convey, for example, the exact side of the street on which the user is driving. Directions can continue as the user heads for a location on foot, as he can receive prompts from the phone to pinpoint exact locations.

Testing, Testing
Van Diggelen said several cell handset makers and network operators around the world are evaluating and testing Global Locate’s technology.

Those include Motorola, Nortel and other U.S. firms participating in the Assisted-GPS Developer Program, which is working to speed the implementation of E911 network technology.