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New technology leads GNSS and PNT markets

May 31, 2017  - By
Image: GPS World

GNSS and PNT markets continue changing, sometimes very rapidly. No news there. Technology advances relentlessly, opening up new application areas and new price points as it goes.

The market for inertial navigation systems (INS), a subset of that PNT universe, is no exception. The number of available options in inertial has grown substantially. Micro-electrical-mechanical systems (MEMS) sensors lead the charge. Smaller, lighter, lower power and less expensive than previous inertial measurement units, they are truly changing the game and exploding past their previously limited deployment.

So much so that I now need to find a MEMS expert to join our editorial board, advise me on article selection, and attend an ever-widening spectrum of PNT-relevant conferences on behalf of this magazine.

That’s not the only smaller, faster, lighter, cheaper advance warping the speed of change in PNT. Our reporter Robin Wrinn got a look at the 33rd Annual Space Symposium at the ways 3D printing is changing how GPS satellites are put together. I had to rub my eyes when I read her account. Yes, GPS satellites. The column in The System of Systems (page 10) touches only lightly upon this phenomenon. I had to edit all the rest out as we are so short of space in this issue. But go online, where space no longer constrains us, for a fuller account and startling photos.

If this trend goes on much longer, I’ll need a 3D printing expert on the editorial board as well. Indeed, we gave some consideration a few years back to bringing 3D printing “under the umbrella,” so to speak, inside the magically expanding tent — like something out of Harry Potter — that encloses all the technologies we must cover, just to keep up with you folks.

I sense something else lurking about, awaiting an entrance. And for this I’ll really need an expert adviser. I don’t even know what to call it. Somehow it combines virtual reality and gamification. Yes, really. Games are about to begin playing a role in PNT. First in mapping, through the visualization of data; this is explored in our May Defense PNT & Geointelligence Insider newsletter column.

Gamification is “the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts.” To what purpose? To improve productivity, of course. Though we may call it accuracy, or availability, or robustness in our realm. It begins with crowdsourcing, probably. Though I feel the ice getting thinner, the limb weaker beneath me as I climb out upon it. Think I’ll stop now.

This article is tagged with , and posted in GNSS, Opinions

About the Author: Alan Cameron

Alan Cameron is the former editor-at-large of GPS World magazine.