If tech-rich wearables are ever going to win widespread acceptance, the components that enable them to communicate with servers and access data will have to be tiny. When the equipment is embedded in a tablet or a smartphone, no one notices — but a bulky heart monitor sensor or GPS chip would be unsuitable for a T-shirt or wristwatch for athletes.
It’s a problem Gal Jacobi, CEO of Petach Tikvah-based OriginGPS, has often pondered. His answer — a tiny GPS chip. “Although there has never been more demand for location information, size and power constraints have limited innovation in the wearables space,” said Jacobi. “Developers want to add features to wearable devices without making them bulkier and less fashionable.”
That dilemma led Jacobi to develop the new chip. With dimensions of 10x10x5.8mm and weighing just 2.5 grams, the Micro Hornet GPS chip is the world’s smallest. The Micro Hornet has the added benefit of including an integrated antenna, along with all the filters, radio frequency shields, and processing capabilities of full-sized chips. “The Nano Hornet breaks size and power barriers, making it ideal for devices that require low profile components,” said Jacobi. “We have pushed the boundaries of what’s possible and reduced the thickness of our already industry-leading Micro Hornet by nearly 35 percent.”
OriginGPS promises a better GPS experience even under marginal conditions using proprietary technology to keep out signals that could interfere with the chip’s ability to contact satellites. Industry tests show the OriginGPS chips as having a Time To First Fix (TTFF, the time it takes for a chip to fix on a satellite) of less than one second, and location accuracy within as little as two meters. In addition, said Jacobi, the chip detects changes in context, temperature, and satellite signals to achieve a state of near continuous availability.
Among its customers for some of its other small chip communication products is Spain’s Ficosa International, which produces systems and parts for the automotive industry. Last year, Ficosa showed off an in-Vehicle Telematic Unit that integrates communication and navigation via satellite, capable of picking up satellite signals from all of the world’s current and future location systems (GPS/ GALILEO/ GLONASS/ BEIDOU/ QZSS). The lightweight system is suitable for integration into any component of a car, even a windshield, the company said.
OriginGPS has a large and enthusiastic base of customers who praise the company’s technology, and according to the Israel Export Institute, OriginGPS’s miniscule GPS and GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) devices were well received at this year’s Mobile World Conference in Barcelona. “The Nano Hornet’s innovative architecture packs the most functionality and high-quality components in the smallest space by volume, to improve wearables fashion and function,” said Jacobi. “It boasts several key features that will improve the navigation experience of wearables and other Internet of Things devices.”