GPS accuracy in smartphones will receive a massive boost next year, as Broadcom has started to manufacture a mass-market GPS chip that will take advantage of new global navigation satellite signals.
GPS enables a lot of popular uses for smartphone, including navigation apps such as Waze, ride-hailing services such as Uber, and games such as Pokémon GO. With more accurate signals, these apps will likely become even better.
New Broadcom GPS Chips
According to a Spectrum IEEE report, Broadcom announced at a conference in Portland that it is now sampling the superaccurate GPS chips, named the BCM47755.
The GPS chips will enable accuracy of within 30 centimeters, which is equivalent to about a foot, compared to the current standard of within 3 meters to 5 meters, or up to 16 feet away. This is made possible by new GPS satellite broadcast that will provide smartphones with additional information for more accuracy in determining locations.
Broadcom also noted that the capabilities of the new GPS chips will not be hindered when surrounded by modern concrete infrastructure, and that they will consume just half of the power compared to the required energy of current GPS chips.
The BCM47755 has already been included in the designs of some smartphones that are planned to be launched next year, so users will be able to enjoy its benefits very soon. The company, however, declined to reveal which specific devices will feature the new GPS chips.
How Will The New GPS Chips Make Life Better?
The new GPS chips will enable usage even when surrounded by concrete walls, and will result in a slightly longer battery life for the smartphones. However, the biggest benefit that the new chips will provide is the much improved accuracy.
A large error range of up to 5 meters might not look like much, but in figuring out which street to make a turn, where to stand for a ride to pick you up, and what spots GPS-enabled games are telling you to go to, improved accuracy of within a foot will make all the difference. No more wrong turns, confusing meet-up places, and missed opportunities.
The biggest question, however, is how soon smartphone manufacturers will adopt the technology. While there are already some devices that will feature the new GPS chips next year, Qualcomm remains the biggest supplier for smartphone chips. For widespread adoption, users might have to wait for Qualcomm to build its own version of a GPS chip that uses the new global navigation satellite signals.