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Mobile microchip tracks your location

Mobile microchip tracks your location

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Broadcom's mobile microchip can detect your position down to a fine point using sensors, wireless and GPS information.

Smartphones are becoming more innovative and advanced every year. Now, Broadcom has developed and implemented a new microchip for these mobile devices that goes a step further in sensory technology -- by being able to detect your location down to centimeters.

The microchip is able to sense a smartphone owner's proximity both vertically and horizontally. By processing data from a variety of sources, the chip can tell you what chair you're sitting on, on what floor, and what building -- in what city. This kind of precise location tracking can be used both inside and out, according to MIT.

MIT reports:

"The unprecedented accuracy of the Broadcom 4752 chip results from the sheer breadth of sensors from which it can process information. It can receive signals from global navigation satellites, cell-phone towers, and Wi-Fi hot spots, and also input from gyroscopes, accelerometers, step counters, and altimeters.

The variety of location data available to mobile-device makers means that in our increasingly radio-frequency-dense world, location services will continue to become more refined."

In theory, these abilities -- what Broadcom calls "ubiquitous navigation systems" -- could be used in order to improve navigation indoors, and also utilizes technology which does not yet exist in the commercial sphere -- Bluetooth beacons. By using this wireless standard for short-range communication, the smartphone chip could be integrated into retail activity.

Scott Pomerantz, vice president of the GPS division at Broadcom said:

"The use case [for Bluetooth beacons] might be malls. It would be a good investment for a mall to put up a deployment -- perhaps put them up every 100 yards, and then unlock the ability for people walking around mall to get very precise couponing information."

"The density of these sensors will give you even finer location," says Charlie Abraham, Vice president of engineering at Broadcom. "It could show you where the bananas are within a store—even on which shelf there's a specific brand."

The microchip's tracking capability is based on the accumulative data of WiFi databases, which many mobile operators are already developing. One of Broacom's biggest customers is Apple, who previously used Skyhook for location services -- before developing and employing their own system.

Image credit: Uwe Hermann

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure