Skyhook’s XPS 2.0 - Location Solutions for Truly Converged Devices
Wireless announced the company's next version of XPS, a multi-mode
location determination software solution. Basically, Skyhook is
allowing device manufacturers to become "location determination
agnostic." A device manufacturer using XPS 2.0 can leverage GPS, Wi-Fi
or cell tower/Assisted GPS (A-GPS) to determine location. Skyhook's XPS
2.0 offers "all" the different ways for hardware to acquire an accurate
location for whatever location-based service a carrier wants to bring
XPS 2.0 is software solution that will look for a combination either
Wi-Fi beacons, GPS satellites and cell tower signals to determine a
location quickly, accurately and with as little power as possible. One
goal is to significantly reduce the power consumption normally
associated with GPS. The XPS solution is primarily aimed at device
manufacturers as they prepare for their 2009 production with the hopes
that the carriers will want to bring more LBS applications to market.
Ted Morgan, president and founder of Skyhook, says that everyone,
device manufacturers and carriers, are closely watching Apple's and
Nokia's products, applications and acquisitions.
The XPS solution takes advantage of handsets that contain all three
radios with location determination capabilities: GPS, Wi-Fi and A-GPS.
Depending on the application, XPS tries to maximize accuracy and
minimize power consumption. For example, applications like local search
or social networking have different requirements. Generally you get can
get a Wi-Fi signal in a second or two and for local search, and a 40
meter accuracy may be sufficient. For applications requiring more
precise location determination, the XPS solution can simultaneously
look for GPS satellites and cell towers. Independently, GPS or A-GPS
can take between 20-40 seconds to get a fix. With XPS, a hybrid
location determination is employed which may result in the location
being acquired in only 3-4 seconds, so that less power is needed
to run the GPS chips.
Here is how the hybrid solution works. While you may be able to get a
GPS signal from the first two satellites in the first few seconds of
turning on the device, the acquisition of a third satellite may take an
additional 20-40 seconds and in urban canyons, it may be longer. With
the XPS solution, Wi-Fi signals are acquired in little more than one
second. If the user is in a building, he can obtain 40-meter accuracy
within that first second, but within an additional two more
seconds he'd likely have the two GPS satellites for 20-meter accuracy
even though it may be a weak GPS signal. "GPS acts as a tiebreaker for
us," says Morgan.
For the device manufacturers, the time to fix is important as
locational accuracy is in more demand from users and improving the
ability to maintain the accuracy while reducing the power is a concern.
For applications like local search or "buddy finders," a "one shot look
up" using Wi-Fi will do fine. To refine the location, the GPS radio may
be turned on only for the two seconds that it needs to acquire two
satellites and then it shuts off. In this case, XPS will likely save
much more power. For applications like turn-by-turn navigation, the
power demands are greater, but here XPS still may have an advantage. As
you get into urban canyons, the confidence of the positional accuracy
is lessened and the application may be forced to run on Wi-Fi. The
radios shut down and the applications look to the solution that will
save more power. For example, the iPhone with GPS will exploit many
types of location applications and uses the current version of XPS in
its latest release.
In addition to the three location determination methods noted above,
XPS will also offer "stationary detection techniques" to reduce the
"jitter and improve the pedestrian user experience." So, if your device
is having trouble picking up a signal because you are in motion while
walking, XPS is designed to perform a velocity calculation to make this
determination and derive your location faster.
Skyhook Wireless' fleet of field signal surveyors will also be mapping
the propagation patterns of cell towers locations and their
locations, and providing a database of this information with the XPS
Skyhook hopes to drive interest of device manufacturers to begin field
trials to verify its claims and get XPS into the phones. Skyhook also
announced that CSR, a manufacturer of GPS chips, will include XPS on
their chips, similar to a deal Skyhook penned with SiRF.