GPStoo: The new age of positioning!

GPStoo “The new age of positioning” has announced itself to the world at a time when there is increased excitement and anxiety in the GNSS and positioning industry; Excitement about the possibilities of Indoor positioning and marketing, anxiety over the possible jamming of GPS/GNSS signals and the subsequent loss of navigation and timing services.

GPStoo provides three-dimensional indoor and outdoor positioning using Existing broadcast signals.

GPStoo - Universal Positioning Module

A lot of positioning companies in the recent history have been trying to penetrate the indoor positioning market using WiFi, Cell Towers and many more “out-of-the-box” ideas. Some with success while many have failed to take off. GPStoo promises a lot and hopefully this technology will take off.

Positioning accuracy is a few feet in a windowless commercial building with thick concrete walls. No GPS service was available.

Positioning accuracy is a few feet in a windowless
commercial building with thick concrete walls.
No GPS service was available.

The uniqueness of GPStoo lies in the fact that it’s not only an indoor positioning service, it also provides outdoor positioning.

“GPStoo works at places where GPS does not”! This opens up a magnitude of applications and possibilities that would otherwise be limited by the indoor-outdoor divide. At the moment, equipment that can track GPS/GNSS satellites need special or alternative sensors and receivers to be able to provide indoor positioning. This could change for the better if GPStoo is adopted.

With its indoor and outdoor positioning capacities the only hindrance happens to be the accuracy of positioning; which is reported to be 3 meters or 10 feet (Lat, Long and Height). If over a period of time, GPStoo is able to achieve position accuracy at the sub-centimeter level then it opens the doors for more people and companies to utilize it.

GPStoo utilizes existing broadcast signals which ensures that they don’t have any common vulnerabilities and resistance to jamming. More importantly, its independent of GPS networks! GPStoo had recently completed field trails and has begun operation in Southern California, USA. United States wide operations are said to be rolled out in 2013.

GPStoo certainly looks like an exciting technology, something that is not just a GPS alternative or indoor positioning service alone. Although no information was available regarding the exact frequency at which the “broadcast signals” operate, my guess is that they have to be near the commercial  telecommunication services which makes it Global. In addition, for GPStoo to be able to project itself as a viable and complete alternative to GPS/GNSS for outdoor positioning, Timing applications have to be supported.


Here’s the link to their website GPStoo – the world’s first three dimensional indoor and outdoor positioning system.

These are exciting times for Location enthusiasts!

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GPS Jamming: What happens when GPS is down!

In a world where GPS is vital and in fact the most revolutionary positioning method since the days of “celestial object” based navigation, ever wondered what happens if GPS/GNSS is jammed or made unavailable.

Can’t use your smartphone for navigation any more then! Banking services will be hit! A world without GPS (or GNSS) is increasingly becoming difficult to imagine for Defence and Civilians alike.

The main reason the GPS signals can be so easily jammed is because of their low power. GPS Satellites are at an altitude of 20200 Kilometers and any increase in power will dramatically affect the power requirements of the satellites. The only solution is to develop counter-mechanisms and technologies to eliminate and contain such jamming. In a world where a simple $30 device can interfere with GPS signals, it is important to have counter-technologies to eliminate such attempts.

How will the Defense forces counter GPS Jamming? What should they do? These were the questions that DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) was working on.

And the answer according to DARPA?

GPS Jamming: What happens when GPS is down!

Time and Inertial Measurement Unit. 7 devices in a chip that is smaller than a penny!

That small chip sitting on top of one cent coin is the answer! DARPA researchers from the University of Michigan have designed a Timing and Inertial Measurement Unit (TIMU) that can aid in navigation when GPS is temporarily down or unavailable. The single chip TIMU prototype has a six axis IMU coupled together with a master clock.

Although IMUs have been used to aid navigation when GPS is unavailable in places like tunnels, etc., this is probably the smallest IMU on the planet plus it has a in-built timing device. To navigate from A to B, we need to know the orientation, acceleration and time in order to be able to position ourselves. This chip does it all.

Interestingly, TIMU by DARPA only functions when GPS positioning was available initially and is accurate only for a limited period after GPS outage. It cannot prevent GPS jamming or jammers.

What’s the solution then?

NovAtel Inc, Canada came up with a precise answer to that. A GPS device that can nullify the jamming effects using antenna design and noise cancellations techniques. GAJT (read Gadget) is a dual frequency anti-jam antenna that helps GPS devices work even under hostile conditions.

Here’s the video for the product.

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