Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Keep your maps around

Before you put your trust on some gadget, here are some ways technology can let you down from recent news and how they can interfere with location-based technology including GPS satellites and its signals:

Solar Flares

CNet reported on a study by NOAA on the effect of solar eruptions occurred last December and its accompanying radio bursts had on GPS signals.

[Update: And today NOAA released a study pointing out that a new cycle of sun spots is likely to start around March 2008 peaking up in 2011. Via CNET.]

DARPA's Backup System

Boeing is developing for DARPA the concept of a non-GPS based system named Robust Surface Navigation (RSN). From the PR:

"[the] program is to develop technologies that can exploit various "signals of opportunity" -- electronic waves emanating from satellites, cell phone towers and even television transmission towers -- to provide precise location and navigation information to ground troops when GPS signals are being electronically jammed or blocked by natural or man-made obstacles, such as foliage or buildings."
[Update: Rosum will be working with Boeing on this project, providing its GPS over TV signals technology. Via NewsFactor]

Frequency Interference

Today Tech.co.uk pointed out a study from the Swedish Defence Research Agency saying that CPU's running at close range to a GPS receiver can interfere with its accuracy.

Unreliable Location-based 911

And the San Jose Mercury News published an article on the study being developed by APCO on the reliability of location-based information provided by 911 services over cell phones.

GSM networks are known to provide poor resolution while CDMA provides a much better accuracy by the nature of its own network (time-based signals).

Shirt with GPSOverIP

But that won't stop someone to dress for the occasion with a shirt that transmits your current location using GPSOverIP and comes with its own data plan from Vodafone.

Keep your maps around, you might need them.

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