How Hybrid Positioning Will Allow me to Easily Locate my Son

An article co-authored by Richard Catmur, my colleague at Spirent, was published last week in GPS World. It is a great introduction to the test methodologies currently prescribed for enabling location services on mobile devices. The article provides a well-rounded view of the lab based testing standards and also highlights the need for real world or real-world recording-based verification. The article also discusses the need for test standards addressing the growing adoption of hybrid location technology in smartphones.

To add context to Richard’s article, please consider the following analogy. 100 years back, parents did not have mobile phones and GPS tracking systems to locate their children at the end of the day. If a child did not come home by 7 PM, parents would have gone searching for the child from one friend’s place to another. Assuming the child’s friends knew of his whereabouts, the more friends the child had, the better chance the parents would find their child quickly. This is the same analogy that applies to position determination for mobile devices. The more sources of information that the device is capable of using, the better the positioning accuracy will be. Thus, the methods of Hybrid Positioning have become popular in the last few years. Hybrid positioning can be loosely defined as positioning methods that use more than one source of information, for e.g. GPS+GLONASS constellation, Cellular + WiFi information, WiFi + Sensor information etc. There is a lack of standardization for hybrid positioning beyond GNSS constellation combination and this is understandable due to the complexity of test scenarios as outlined in Richard’s article. The positioning industry needs a flexible, repeatable and configurable lab-based environment to test various combinations, and this is why Spirent has created the Hybrid Location Test System (HLTS).

A new test methodology discussed in the GPS World article is real-world recording-based testing. This is an interesting and important test area which is not currently defined in the industry test specifications. The real-world recording-based testing enables the optimization of positioning algorithms in problem areas like the super cities of the world. Spirent’s GSS6400 and GSS6425 are example solutions that enable real-world recording-based verification of GNSS receivers. Newer GNSS technologies are introducing challenges on how to define the optimal test methodologies and Spirent’s GSS6700 provides the perfect simulation environment that enables verification of the various GNSS constellation combinations (including GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and Beidou). Both the real-world recording-based and GNSS simulation test methodologies are incorporated in the Spirent HLTS test system.

I am excited about location technology and hybrid location technology in particular. Not only does it present an opportunity to my company to solve complex problems, but it also makes it more likely I’ll be able to locate my son easily when he grows up! Look for future blogs that will provide a more extensive explanation of the location technology testing challenges.

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