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Date: 18-04-13

First single-chip indoor GPS IC packs DSP, analog and RF

BlinkSight has released the first single-chip ‘indoor GPS’ solution for RTLS and wireless sensor network (WSN) applications. Based on ultra-low power impulse radio technology by imec and Holst Centre, the new chip delivers real-time information to track and trace people and objects in indoor environments.

“The real-time location business is emerging and the global market for connected devices is growing at tremendous speed,” said BlinkSight CMO Guus Frericks. “Adding highly accurate indoor capabilities to connected devices such as smartphones paves the way for a broad range of game changing consumer applications across ‘Internet of Things’ segments like smart homes, offices and retail.”

This IC helps in real-time 3D location information that is accurate to within 10 cm. The device combines digital processing elements and precision analog RF in a single chip. It can operate in both the 3.1-4.8 GHz and 6-10 GHz bands for use around the world and seamless co-existence with other wireless technologies.

With an operating voltage range of 1.5 to 3.6 V, the new device can be powered by battery source. Suggested applications include tags, wireless sensors, base stations and mobile devices. BlinkSight says a base station equipped with BlinkSight’s technology could track and trace thousands of fast moving tags in real time. In addition the tags are interactive and capable of sending dynamic data (e.g. temperature).

“Our solution is easy to install and thanks to the collaboration with imec we’ve been able to bring a working solution to market very fast,” said BlinkSight CEO and founder Stéphane Mutz. “A lot of effort went into minimizing power consumption, and we expect to have tags powered by energy harvesting available soon. We aim to bring a complete turnkey system to market and want to work with industry leaders to bring accurate indoor GPS capabilities to connected devices.”

“Imec was a pioneer of impulse radio and the first to demonstrate an integrated impulse radio prototype. We are thrilled that BlinkSight is now successfully bringing the technology to market.” said Harmke de Groot, Program Director Ultra-Low Power Wireless and DSP at Holst Centre/imec.

Fabricated in standard 90 nm RF-CMOS, the chip is manufactured at TSMC in Taiwan.
Key features as per BlinkSight:
• Single chip impulse radio transceiver optimized for indoor GPS applications
• Standard 90 nm RF-CMOS technology
• Single 1.5 to 3.6 V power supply
• Embedded software programmable ultra low power 128 bit vector DSP ( 60 m LOS (Line of Sight) / > 20 m N-LOS (No Line of Sight)
• 3D positioning accuracy better than 10 cm
• 5+ years operation from a standard coin battery

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