GNSS Chipset Expansion Must be Underpinned by Quality

With a recent report predicting that consumer and precision GNSS receiver IC shipments will reach two billion units by 2016, it is important to remember that quantity must be underscored by quality. The report, by ABI Research, highlights the importance of new vertical markets, such as tablets, cameras and fitness equipment, as well as the growth of LBS (location-based services) and LBA (location-based advertising) applications, all of which will contribute to a quadrupling of the market within five years.

The report also predicts that multi-GNSS GPS + GLONASS functionality will become standard by 2013, with additional support for Compass following shortly thereafter. Hybrid systems will also come to the fore, with both Wi-Fi positioning and inertial sensors becoming standard features in the cellphone market.

Such rapid advances, particularly in the consumer sphere, can only come about with the entry to the market of a whole raft of manufacturers with little or no experience in GNSS receiver design. And while the quality, reliability and accuracy of the semiconductors themselves are not in question, it is the expertise of these new manufacturers in applying them and integrating them that could lead to unwanted consequences.

While the consumer's appetite for location enabled devices continues to grow, it would only take a few high-profile failures for the market to be set back years. So it is essential, both for the health of the market and for the reputations of the manufacturers involved, that the quality, reliability and accuracy of the products reaching the market are not compromised.

With test solutions available now for GPS, GLONASS and Compass GNSS receivers, together with a great deal of research into systems capable of testing hybrid technologies, there is no excuse for releasing untried and untested designs onto the market. It doesn't matter whether the product is a navigation system, a tablet PC or a running shoe, the consumer expects and deserves that it will function exactly as expected under all reasonable conditions.

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