Think GPS is cool? IPS will blow your mind | ExtremeTech

GPS satellite constellation

For all of their awesome applications — from portable navigation devices, to self-driving cars, to cruise missile targeting — the American Global Positioning System and its Russian cohort GLONASS have two fundamental flaws: They don’t work indoors, and they only really operate in two dimensions.

Now, these limitations are fair enough; we’re talking about an extremely weak signal that has traveled 20,200km (12,600mi), after all. Passing through concrete and other solid obstacles is hard enough for a strong, short-range cellular signal — you can’t seriously expect a 50-watt signal traveling 12,000 miles to do the same. Detecting a GPS signal on Earth is comparable to detecting the light from a 25-watt bulb from 10,000 miles.

The situation is a little more complex when it comes to detecting a change in altitude; GPS and GLONASS can measure altitude, but generally the data is inaccurate and too low-resolution (on the order of 10-25 meters) for everyday use. Even with these limitations, though, space-based satellite navigation systems have changed almost every aspect of society, from hardware hacking to farming to cartography to finding a girlfriend.

What if we had a navigation system that worked indoors, though? What if we had an Indoor Positioning System (IPS)? Believe it or not, we’re very nearly already there.

GPS vs. IPS

Notes

  1. hijabimullah reblogged this from realcleverscience
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  5. realcleverscience reblogged this from smarterplanet and added:
    To be honest, I’m kinda surprised that this isn’t already widespread. (There’s gotta be a word for that kind of spoiled...
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  10. coolcatteacher reblogged this from emergentfutures and added:
    IPS better than GPS?
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  19. ideatrotter reblogged this from smarterplanet and added:
    For all of their awesome applications — from portable navigation devices, to self-driving cars, to cruise missile...
  20. thecoreofthewatermelon reblogged this from smarterplanet and added:
    Isn’t GPS enough?
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