CSR reaches beyond GPS to improve navigation

CSR announced three new products today, SiRFstarV, SiRFusion, and SiRFprimaII, designed to increase the accuracy of navigation systems for both outdoor and indoor applications.

CSR's new GPS architecture taps additional satellites, plus cell tower and Wi-Fi access points, to improve navigational accuracy.

Satellite chart
Russia's GLONASS, China's COMPASS, and Europe's Galileo provide the same navigation functions as the Global Positioning System. Cmglee/Creative Commons

During a meeting in CNET's offices, Kanwar Chadha, CMO of CSR Technology, noted that all content is becoming location-aware. Smartphone apps and navigation devices can tailor information to a user's personal surroundings. Taking advantage of that trend, Chadha's company, which provides GPS chips for navigation devices, has developed a new generation of products that can pinpoint locations both outdoors and indoors.

As an initial step to improve accuracy, the company's SiRFstarV architecture not only uses the U.S. Global Positioning System satellites, but also taps Russian GLONASS, European Galileo, and Chinese COMPASS satellites to determine location. GLONASS, Galileo, and COMPASS are satellite systems similar to GPS.

The additional satellites will help navigation devices using the SiRFstarV architecture to more quickly and accurately determine location. Chadha said that CSR had to give its new products the ability to receive the different frequencies of the other satellite networks to enable the additional location tracking ability.

To further refine location, SiRFstarV also uses cell towers and Wi-Fi signals. Cell tower triangulation is nothing new, but using Wi-Fi signals can lead to better navigation in dense, downtown areas where buildings block satellite reception and portable devices that work indoors. CSR will maintain a database of WiFi access points with its locations. Once a smartphone or other navigation device senses the signal, it can upload the access point's ID to CSR, and receive the associated coordinates.

CSR has two platforms that will take advantage of the SiRFstarV architecture: SiRFusion and SiRFprimaII. SiRFusion is designed for personal devices, and optimized for indoor navigation. CSR is counting on proliferation of devices using SiRFusion to crowdsource its database of Wi-Fi access points and their locations.

The promise of SiRFusion is that devices will help people find their way around large indoor complexes, such as malls. A smartphone could help someone navigate from the GAP to a Chili's, for example.

The SiRFprimaII platform is designed for automotive implementations, so is less focused on indoor navigation. But it could still use cell tower and Wi-Fi signal to help a driver find his way in a parking garage.

CSR announced the new architecture and platforms today. There have been no announcements as to which products will carry the new navigation technology.

About the author

Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET. Prior to the Car Tech beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine. He's also the author of "Vaporware," a novel that's available as a Nook e-book.

 

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