Out in Front: Ten Big Ones in Five

January 1, 2011  - By
Image: GPS World

At the opposite end of this book, my esteemed colleague Eric Gakstatter gives you his Top Five news stories of the recently passed year, from a system point of view. Spend five minutes here in this column, and I’ll toss up the Top Ten for GNSS business, as reported in this magazine.

Not the biggest money deals or revenue generators, at least not in the short term. But the most significant in terms of breaking new ground, pushing out frontiers, integrating with other technologies — the modes through which industry grows and prospers.

I’m leafing through my back copies in reverse order. This listing goes not by prominence, but by reverse chronology.

PNDs Up, Then Down By 2015. When you are doing well, rest assured that someone is gaining on you. Smartphones will gradually take over the personal nav market. Stay flexible, innovate, and be prepared to change horses in midstream.

Rockwell Delivers New MUE. While military user equipment gave this industry its start, the receivers themselves have always lagged behind product available to civil users. Still, security features in the GB-GRAM-M foreshadow what all receivers may eventually require.

Triumph V.S. from JAVAD. Supercharged with capabilities, a veritable surveyor’s arsenal, and probably a gamechanger — whether or not it makes it in the marketplace. A visionary product.

NovAtel OEMV-1DF. Almost every month, another smallest-yet consumer-grade GPS receiver emerges. But when high-precision, dual-frequency receivers grind down their footprint and power requirement, you know this is a future wave that will sweep everything along. Not the only tiny high-performance OEM receiver, mind you, just the latest.

LLC Rusnavgeoset. The joint venture between Trimble and a Russian company will help drive the commercialization of GLONASS, an aspect that system has not yet truly seen. We all talk about the second GNSS of choice, but the second commercialized GNSS is what we really want.

Smartphone Explosion. The flipside to the first story. This year’s models from Apple iPhone, Google Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7, and all their kin, if not built around location as Apple claimed, certainly have it as core feature. The flip of the flipside: pricing for the GPS component is cut-throat. Absolutely the worst you’ve ever seen.

GPS-Enabled USB Drive. That’s all it takes — well, download some software and buy a contract — to make a laptop location-aware.
Spirent Assisted-GLONASS Testing. One more sign that the Russian system, against betmakers’ odds, may yet become the trusty sidekick. Soon, if your mobile doesn’t have it, it’s not 

One-Chip Receivers-Plus. Hardly breaking news, since it’s been talked about and even done, sort of, for years. TI, Broadcom, Qualcomm, CSR, and silent runners like Sony and Panasonic are all adding some communication transceiver(s) to GPS and squeezing them onto a single piece of silicon.

No News Is Big News. Actually not reported here or anywhere, because neither party wants to reveal anything, but some of the biggest deals are cut by chip manufacturers (such as STMicroelectronics, to name just one), with automobile makers around the world. Like it or not, the car/truck is the dominant mechanical paradigm of our age. And if location is in it . . .

We are indeed fortunate to be part of, and partners in, such a vital scene. Best wishes for this New Year.

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