Microsoft Research develop new extremely low power GPS location system



imageMicrosoft Research has developed a way to off-load much of the workload of the GPS chips to the cloud, thereby making them much more energy efficient, and more suitable for continuous location tracking.

Jie Liu, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, and his team developed a GPS system called CLEO, for Cultivating the Long tail in Environmental Observations,  that collects only a few milliseconds of the most crucial information from satellites. This data is then combined with other important information from public, online databases, such as satellite trajectories and Earth elevation values, to calculate the device’s past locations. The data fusion and location calculations happen on a remote server.

This reduces GPS power consumption from one that will drain a phone’s batteries in 6 hours to one that can run continuously for a year and a half on two AA batteries.

Liu believes that low-power GPS systems on mobile phones could make continuous location logging feasible, which could for example let you keep a  record of your driving habits or deliver search results based on your usual walking or driving directions.

“Those continuous location-sensing applications have a lot of value, and today we’re not doing that,” Liu says.

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