Tucked away as a side-note in Patently Apple’s report that cast more light on future iBooks features for kids and adults is a discovery of a new hardware feature that could be in the works for Apple’s portable devices. It is based on state-of-the-art positioning technology called ALLOYT which is capable of pinpointing your location accurately in places where traditional GPS doesn’t work. This includes places like underground garages, shopping malls, basements or just about any location where various obstacles or concrete material block line-of-sight to the global positioning satellites:
Apple briefly described the inclusion of a hybrid positioning system using a combination of satellite and television signals from a company called Rosum Corporation. Whether that example was used to identify a generic type of chip or that particular company’s chip isn’t known at this time. But the technology that the Rosum Corporation developed is definitely worth noting.
The very mention of a specific company in an Apple patent filing is unusual and indicative of the company’s future plans. And because it’s based on a readily available solution, Apple will want to take advantage of it before its rivals do. The Rosum solution enables mapping and GPS-enabled software to work in places where GPS is “blind”. The Redwood City, California-headquartered company developed and unveiled the chip in partnership with Siano in March of last year. It uses broadcast TV signals to provide precise frequency, timing and location information, prompting Bloomberg to call it a “breakthrough”:
The breakthrough chip opens up a multitude of new commercial opportunities by enabling femtocell synchronization and location, tracking of people and assets, and localized advertising over mobile TV devices in deep indoor locations such as shopping malls, hotels, campuses and factories with seamless delivery leveraging broadcast TV signals. The ALLOYT client combines the ALLOYT chip with a high-sensitivity A-GPS chip into a tightly-coupled hybrid TV-GPS solution which works across all types of environments: rural, suburban, urban, and indoor. Broadcast TV signals enjoy a 100,000x power margin advantage over GPS, and this extends location and synchronization capabilities deep into buildings and urban environments.