Category Archives: Computer Hardware

GPS World: First Galileo Position Fix With Open Source Receiver

GPS World recently reported that researchers had obtained the first position from Galileo satellite signals using an open source GNSS receiver design. The position fix was obtained by a research team at the Statistical interference Department at the CTTC. The work done by the research team was part of the open source GNSS SDR Project.

The article also talks about the benefits of an open source GPS receiver. It says:

“With GNSS-SDR, researchers and technology enthusiasts can easily change the implementation of a certain functional block and assess the impact of that change on the whole receiver performance,” said Pau Closas, GNSS-SDR scientific advisor and Head of the Statistical Inference Department at CTTC. “This paves the way to innovative mass-market, industrial and scientific applications that could make use of Galileo signals but require non-standard features which are not present in mass-market receivers nor in costly professional equipment.”

An open source GPS receiver…That is super groovy cool!

Landon Blake


Geography Matters: Predicting The Spread of Malaria By Tracking Cell Phones

Market Place Tech Report had a recent podcast that talked about the use of cell phone location data to predict how outbreaks of Malaria will move through a population. This is a great example of how geography matters, and illustrates how geospatial data from mobile phones will allow us to learn a great deal more about the movement of people…and diseases.

Landon Blake

Bloomberg BusinessWeek: Cheap Tablets Are Coming

The November 4th Issue of Bloomberg BusinessWeek has an article entitled “Get Ready For The Surge Of Cheap Tablets” about the upcoming wave of cheap tablets (under $150). What is enabling the arrival of these inexpensive handheld computers? Cheap hardware components. The article says: “The falling cost of components is making the tablet market easier to crack. Chinese semiconductor companies such as Rockchip now sell chip systems for $5, one-quarter of what U.S. companies charge. Displays that cost more than $100 two years ago are tens of dollars today. All told, a garden-variety tablet’s parts, from memory to shell, now cost $60, compared with $175 in 2011.”

Building a quality and inexpensive tablet isn’t as easy as assembling a quality and inexpensive personal computer. The article explains why: “There’s a higher learning curve to cranking out bargain-priced tablets than there was to slapping together cheap desktops. With a supply of standardized components, PC assembly mainly requires a screwdriver or a good outsourcing firm. Tablets have to be light and attractive enough for consumers to want to carry them around all day, so engineering and design are crucial. U.S. telecom regulations require that cellular-equipped tablets be tested in all major cities and regions where a company wants to sell them.”

Landon Blake


Bloomberg Businessweek: Google Glass Goes Professional

The September 23, 2013 Issue of Bloomberg Businessweek has an article about application developers for Google Glass who are developing Google Glass apps for working professionals, not for consumers. Some of the examples mentioned in the article are a Google Glass Application for medical surgeons, factory inspections, and security at large public events.

I thought this article presented a cool twist on Google Glasss. I’ll bet there are even more applications of the new technology for the working world than their are for soccer moms.

The Sunburned Surveyor

The Economist: Google Buys Israeli Company “Waze”

In a demonstration of the value of online maps and map data, Google recently paid over 1 billion dollars for Israeli consumer mapping company Waze. According to an article in the Economist Magazine on June 15th, Apple and Facebook were also interested in purchasing the Waze, but Google beat them to the punch. The deal by Google may have been a strategic move to deny its big competitors a great consumer mapping company and application, but we can expect Google will also take advantage of the companies software and mapping data. The article states: “Smartphones on which Waze’s app is open are tracked automatically. They contribute to an ever-changing map that shows drivers the best way to beat the traffic on the way to work or home. Drivers can also choose to report jams, as well as accidents, roadworks, speed traps and petrol prices. Thousands have also edited Waze’s maps. Waze users’ data, if eventually built into Google’s maps, should give a timelier, fuller picture of conditions on the roads.”

The Sunburned Surveyor

PS – This article on TechCrunch has some more details on what Google gets out of buying Waze.

The Economist: Intel Finds The Tablet Chip Market A Bit Competitive

On June 8th, 2013 the Economist Magazine reported that Intel is finding the chip market for tablets more competitive than the traditional market for processors in personal computers. Intel’s main competitor, ARM, does much stronger in the market for tablet chips. Tablet makers like Samsung also like to source from multiple suppliers, so Intel is just fighting against ARM in the tablet market. According to the article, Intel has designed a new processor for mobile devices, called Atom, to help it compete.

I like to see this competition. It is good for Intel, and for consumers.

The Sunburned Surveyor

New Garmin GNSS Receiver Built On Top of Android

The new Garmin Monterra GNSS Receiver for outdoor enthusiasts is now being built on top of the Android Operating System. This means users of the Monterra can now download apps from the Android Play Store that take advantage of the Monterra’s location capabilities.

It makes sense that Garmin is making this move. More and more smart phones have built in location capabilities, and those capabilities will only improve. Why by a Garmin device with limited functionality when you can get a smart phone that does what a recreational grade GNSS receiver does?

Garmin is taking advantage of an open source operating system to offer a lot more functionality to its users. This also allows it to tap into a large pool of Android App developers that can create innovative location based applications for its users and its devices.

This is an interesting move by Garmin. I look forward to seeing if it will help Garmin to survive. I still can’t bring my self to spend several hundred dollars on a recreational GNSS receiver when my smart phone always knows where I am.

The Sunburned Surveyor