Low-power GPS Alternative at CES
2016 CES honoree SENtrace aims to increase battery life by helping devices use GPS, while also helping GPS become a more accurate tool.
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GPS is a technology that has successfully penetrated our everyday lives. Our phones use it for navigation, our wearables use it to track out workouts, and the government uses it to make sure you're not a terrorist. Yet, there's still room for improvement. GPS doesn't have 100% coverage, especially indoors or under cover, and drains battery life from most of the devices that equip it.
At CES this week, PNI Sensor showed off their SENtrace 32-bit processor, a chip to accurately track devices in places GPS can't reach. According to the PNI Sensors site, SENtrace saves up to 67% of device battery life by deactivating GPS when it's not needed, and by acting as a separate processor so the device processor doesn't have to work as hard when tracking locations. The chip is actually more accurate when combined with GPS than GPS on its own, as shown by this map from Planet Analog.
PNI Sensor CEO Becky Oh explained its use cases:
“We foresee a range of applications for SENtrace in wearables... They include wrist-worn devices for locating lost children or elders, and enhanced activity wristbands and smartwatches for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.”
The way SENtrace tracks location data is through sensors inside the device, including gyrometers, accelerometers, and magnetic sensors. It's also very small, at 1.7 x 1.7 x 0.5mm, and shouldn't be difficult to fit into future wearable technology. The chip is a 2016 CES Honoree, and PNI Sensor is already starting to sell the chips.
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