GEO++, a German-based company, with support from the European GNSS Agency (GSA), presented a new high-accuracy positioning application for Android smartphones at this year's Mobile World Congress (MWC).
With over 107,000 visitors attending its 2019 edition, the MWC continues to be the largest mobile event in the world. It was the perfect stage for highlighting some of the most exciting Galileo-driven projects being supported by the GSA.
Everybody can benefit
Readers will know that Galileo is now the world's leading provider of dual-frequency GNSS signals, with more functioning dual-frequency satellites in orbit than any other GNSS constellation. Now, Geo++ GmbH, a geodesy and navigation company based outside Hanover, has developed a precision positioning app for smartphones called 'Geo++ Android Positioning Library', augmenting dual-frequency code and phase GNSS observations with SSR correction data.
"We've been doing precise positioning for 20 years, but typically for survey-grade receivers," said Jannes Wübbena, Managing Director of GEO++. "These can cost up to a couple of thousand euros, and then you can do centimetre-level accuracy. What we wanted to do here is create a new application that can provide precise positioning for smartphones. We wanted to get to a similar level of accuracy but with the limitation that we are using the low-grade, inexpensive GNSS receivers that are in these phones, making it possible for everyone to benefit from the highest accuracy positioning."
Read this: The GSA and Galileo at MWC Barcelona
Geo++ Android Positioning Library tackles the task of precision positioning by utilising GEO++'s network RTK technology in the backend to apply generated GNSS corrections to the smartphone measurements. For the GSA, this is exactly the kind of innovative application, leveraging the advantages of Galileo, that will enable new and more powerful and more value-generating Location-Based Services (LBS) for the mass-market.
Wübbena's company has already gained a lot of experience in this area with its Geo++ RINEX Logger app, which is available free of charge on the Google Play store.
Putting a new tool in your hand
"If you look back ten years ago, people generally had a smartphone for staying connected, but then if they were interested in photography they would also walk around with a digital camera." Wübbena said. "Nowadays it's more common for people just to have a smartphone to do both, because the camera in your phone is just as good as a lot of digital cameras. With our new precision positioning capability, we think this brings your smartphone in a similar way into the realm of high-precision measurement devices." So, as with the digital camera, Wübbena suggested, in the near future, smartphones could also take on the functions of some specialised and expensive measuring equipment.
Wübbena described a scenario in which a person needs to do some work on his or her garden wall. "Let's say you want to measure your wall because you don't know how long it is. We hope that in the future you will be able to just pick up your phone and measure, from one point to the next and down to an accuracy of few centimetres, how long your wall is."
Wübbena said, "The new Geo++ Android Positioning Library doesn't require any special equipment on the part of the user. This works with any off-the-shelf, dual-frequency-capable smartphone, which have been available since 2017." Indeed, MWC attendees will attest to the growing number of dual-frequency GNSS-equipped smartphones coming onto the market, thanks largely to the work of the GSA.
"Everyone will have one of those sooner or later," said Wübbena. "We are approaching smartphone and chipset manufacturers, to work together with us, to actually give an added value to their chips, so that we can sell our dual-frequency-powered apps more readily to the Googles and Apples."
Hottest mobile trends
Working in a highly competitive market is not a problem for GEO++, Wübbena said. "Our main advantage compared to what others are doing is that our service is more reliable, because we take care of all the biases that occur when you process these signals. We have a lot of experience with hardware-independent, high-precision solutions. We have been doing antenna calibration for IGS [International GNSS Service] for example, so we can use this knowledge to calibrate our network devices really accurately, and then deliver the best correction data to our users."
Geo++ Android Positioning Library was one of a number of Galileo-powered solutions being showcased at MWC, sharing space at this year's GSA-Galileo stand. In the run-up to the event, GSA Head of Market Development Fiammetta Diani said: "With the goal of exploring the hottest trends influencing the mobile industry, MWC Barcelona is the ideal platform to promote innovative European GNSS-based solutions and applications. As a global event, it’s also the place to show the world how European Union space research enhances Europe's industrial competitiveness and plays a pivotal role in tackling various societal challenges.”
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