updated 04:40 pm EDT, Mon June 30, 2008
Skyhook XPS 2 Tracking
Skyhook Wireless on Monday launched a new map positioning system that will potentially solve many of the problems associated with GPS navigation today. While the company has already designed a system that can alternate between real GPS and rough triangulation using cellular towers and Wi-Fi, a new method nicknamed XPS 2.0 can combine multiple services at once to find a position even in poor conditions.
By using even weak GPS signals as well as cell tower reception and identified Wi-Fi hotspots, a GPS device or a phone can find its position from a cold start within four seconds -- several times faster than the 30 to 60 seconds needed for traditional assisted GPS, which uses just the native map receiver and Internet data. The Skyhook offering is also more reliable indoors or other high-interference, introduces elevation mapping even without GPS, and is able to use fewer GPS satellites to achieve an accurate lock.
XPS 2.0 is just becoming available to device makers today and is likely to be found primarily in cellphones and multi-role GPS devices. Existing examples running earlier Skyhook positioning include the iRiver W10 and the Eye-Fi Explore wireless camera card. Apple's iPhone line also uses Skyhook for basic positioning, though it's unknown whether it plays a part in assisting iPhone 3G devices in obtaining a lock faster than possible through GPS alone.