01 Mar 2017

Low power Satnav chips for portable & wearable applications

u-blox has launched its new UBX‑M8230‑CT global navigation satellite system (GNSS) receiver chip, offering a unique balance of performance and ultra-low power use.

The new UBX-M8230-CT is a development of the previous generation GNSS chips from u-blox. The new device is aimed at all manner of tracking applications and offers a considerably low level of power consumption.

Typically the power is down by a factor of three. Although this slightly impacts accuracy, it is still more than sufficient for most applications, especially where power is an issue. Such applications include fitness bands, sort watches, smart watches and general tracking devices.

As with all GNSS receivers the major power consumption is within the RF as it requires to be very low noise to receive the exceedingly low power DSSS signals from the satellites. The power consumption has been reduced by introducing an innovative time division system that enables the signals to be received sufficiently to provide accurate location, whilst reducing he power consumption. Even with this scheme the position update still occurs at a rate of at least once a second, which is more than sufficient for most applications.

“Constantly needing to know the user location in wearables has a strong strain on the battery, which has traditionally limited GNSS adoption. UBX-M8230-CT’s low power consumption combined with its high positioning accuracy and the ultra small design footprint of < 30 mm2 makes it possible to add GNSS to virtually all wearables,” said Florian Bousquet, Market Development Manager, Product Centre Positioning at u-blox.

The new device offers a number of new possibilities including using the device in devices like heart rate monitors that can be linked to position and hence situation awareness.

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