In most the stories of Virtual Reality (and Augmented Reality), the technology involved is intended to be used indoors, in a fairly small space. The tracking systems being used nearly always involve some external source mounted nearby. While this is a solution for indoor use, it is not a solution for outdoors. As we move around the world, it would be cool to be able to access Internet information about whatever we are looking at. To do this, we need a tracking system much more accurate than GPS. Well, it looks like some researchers might have cracked it with an improved way to read GPS signals.
The system relies on GPS, which is only accurate to a few meters on its own. To get to centimeter-accuracy, the project combines the GPS information with low-cost antennas typically found in mobile devices. Combining GPS with other sensors isn’t a new idea, but the system has always been too big and too expensive (a few hundred dollars) to fit into a smartphone. Besides nailing your location, the system can also determine orientation to “less than one degree” of accuracy.
That’s pretty cool stuff. Where it also gets really interesting though is with robots and drones. Being able to pinpoint your position outdoors will help robots navigate the world much more efficiently. In terms of education I can see this enabling augmented reality field trips. 🙂
What I like about this is it seems cheap to implement. I imagine this will migrate into an upcoming generation of smartphones. Is Apple already working on the marketing name for it? How about iPosition?
(as an aside I want to work in Apple’s marketing department. As far as I can tell, you just put an “i” on the front of normal terms)