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14May2015

GPS Gets a Whole New Make-Over

 

Highly accurate Global Positioning System is on its way.  GPS based positioning system that could revolutionize geolocation on virtual reality headsets, cellphones and other technologies have been developed by researchers of Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas. The new technology has got the capability of upgrading global positioning to the next level making orientation far more precise than what is currently available on a mobile device.

The new version allows unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver packages to a specific spot on a consumer’s back porch: virtual reality (VR) headsets can be used outdoors and collision avoidance technologies on cars.

Globally referenced 3-D map that would greatly expand the radius of a VR game can be quickly built with the centimetre-accurate GPS coupled with a smartphone camera. Currently the use of VR is limited because it does not use GPS.

“Imagine games where, rather than sit in front of a monitor and play, you are in your backyard actually running around with other players,” said Todd Humphreys, assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics and lead researcher.

In the Radionavigation Lab, Humphreys and his team built a low-cost system that reduces location errors from the size of a large car to the size of a nickel — a more than 100 times increase in accuracy.

Centimeter-accurate positioning systems used currently are too large and costly for use in mobile devices. The new invention by Humphreys and his team is a ray of hope that can extract centimeter accuracies from the inexpensive antennas found in mobile devices. Such precise measurements were not possible early. The softwares ability to leverage low cost antennas will reduce the overall cost of centimeter accuracy. The researchers anticipate that it would be more economically feasible for mobile devices.

Building a specialized receiver, called GRID, to extract so-called carrier phase measurements from low-cost antennas, Humphreys and his team had spent their six years. GRID currently functions outside the phone but will eventually run on the phone’s internal processor.

Humphreys and his students recently co-founded a startup, called Radiosense. Humphreys and his team are currently working with Samsung to develop a snap-on accessory that will tell smartphones, tablets and virtual reality headsets their precise position and orientation.

“If your car knows in real time the precise position and velocity of an approaching car that is blocked from view by other traffic, your car can plan ahead to avoid a collision,” Humphreys said.

The team believes that technology could make a huge difference in the lives of people. It can make significant difference in the daily life including transportation, with centimeter-accurate GPS could lead to better vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology. Currently Samsung is funding Humphreys’ Radionavigation Lab at UT Austin.

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