Qualcomm to add Wi-Fi positioning to GPS platform

Qualcomm to add Wi-Fi positioning to GPS platform
Skyhook Wireless, a Boston-based provider of Wi-Fi positioning technologies has signed an agreement with Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM) which now has a license to distribute Skyhook's Wi-Fi Positioning System (WPS) and incorporate the technology into its Assisted GPS platform.

Skyhook's WPS is a software system that produces location information by detecting Wi-Fi access points and comparing them against a known database of geo-located points. The technology is fast (a few seconds to get a fix in- and outdoor) and accurate in an urban environment with many Wi-Fi access points (40 to 100 meters accuracy). With this technology Qualcomm will enable future mobile device manufacturers, mobile operators, third-party service providers and application developers to utilize a single, integrated hybrid positioning solution.

“With more than 400 million gpsOne enabled handsets in the market, Qualcomm’s technology enables the vast majority of location-aware mobile devices on the market today,” stated Jason Bremner, senior director of cellular products for Qualcomm. “Combining Skyhook’s technology with our gpsOne offering will enable users to obtain location fixes much more rapidly and provide for a more ubiquitous LBS experience whether indoors, outside or in complex environments such as urban areas.”

This new partnership adds up to agreements already signed by Skyhook Wireless with other semiconductor companies - such as SiRF, CSR and Broadcom - and digital map powerhouse NAVTEQ. Skyhook’s technology is already embedded into the iPhone, powering hundreds of LBS application. The recent foray of Google into Wi-Fi positioning (read more here) is also likely to move forward the adoption of this technology.

Despite the fact Google provides it for free there is some value added offered by Skyhook Wireless. First, the Boston company provides a detailed coverage to its customers and a service level agreement which is not the case for Google which exact coverage and reliability is unknown. Second, Skyhook also helps GPS chipset providers develop hybrid solutions using Wi-Fi to enhance GPS and Cell-iD instead of only providing a fallback solution if GPS is not available.

Monday, November 17th 2008

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