Research Brief


No Need To Ask Directions, Laptops And Cell Phones Can Navigate With Sirf’s GPS Card

Sirf Technology Inc. of Sunnyvale California has announced a new chipset for notebooks and cellular phones that adds Global Positioning System (GPS) capabilities. Sirf Technology claims its GPS devices for notebooks and cellular phones provide better reception than current systems, particularly in areas such as the inner city or in dense forest.


Workgroup Strategic Services’ Analysis

Workgroup Strategic Services estimates the overall GPS market will grow to $11 billion by the turn of the century. Driving the GPS market will be the ubiquitous use of GPS in automobiles, cellular phone technology, consumer based recreational equipment, as a mobile sales force application, and the integration of GPS functions into corporate databases to fine tune customer profiles.

Workgroup Strategic Services believes much of the market for GPS will be within embedded systems such as automobiles, aerospace, and other specific applications. Additionally, the Sirf chipset will make an excellent vertical market solution for EMT and other dispatch environments. During recent research for a unique high bandwidth PC architecture, Workgroup Strategic Services found that the state police and EMT dispatch centers are trying to integrate GPS functions within its call centers. State police dispatch centers handle an enormous volumes of calls, for example, in Massachusetts all 911 calls come through the State Police dispatch center, at the rate of one per minute, before being routed to the appropriate local authority or EMT center. Within this environment, the need for GPS addresses a number of concerns. State police would like to integrate GPS and mapping software within its database of roadway landmarks and locations to better help the troopers respond to accidents and other events.

Further, if GPS functionality is incorporated within cell phones, something the state police is working to enable with cellular providers, two important things will occur. The first improvement is the ability to pinpoint a cellular caller’s location for quick response to accidents and other calls for help. According to state police dispatchers, many times a broken down motorist will not have enough information to provide his/her specific location. With GPS functionality in the cell phone, state police will know exactly where the call is coming from and can respond more quickly. The second benefit is the resulting reduction in fraudulent 911 calls to dispatch centers. Today, state police can pinpoint the location of a call from a hard-line phone but not cellular phones. With GPS functionality a part of cell phones, fraudulent callers will be somewhat surprised to find a trooper on their doorstep shortly after the call is made.

Workgroup Strategic Services also feels Sirf Technology’s GPS chipset will offer vertical market resellers a significant opportunity to develop value add solutions for users. The functionality inherent in the Sirf GPS chipset gives vertical market resellers a chance to create high margin solutions for its end users. This will be particularly apt for the scientific community where GPS solutions are part of its day to day set of tools. Target industries within the scientific field include geophysics research, meteorology, researchers tracking animal and migration patterns, and any research that requires navigation and geographical location information, especially those out in the field or other remote locations.


Announcement Highlights

Originally developed for military use and high level navigation purposes, GPS devices now sell for $2,000 for automobile navigation systems and as little as $200 for handheld GPS products. GPS communicates with a network of 24 satellites orbiting the earth, triangulating signals from at least four of them to determine the user’s specific location within 10 meters.

Sirf will initially provide GPS devices for new notebooks and cell phones, but is planning to offer a PC board as a retrofit for current notebook computers. Sirf’s GPS chipset also includes software to help integrate GPS within the notebook. Sirf will sell the chipset and software to manufacturers for $50. Sirf currently has agreements with a number of notebook and cellular vendors to use its GPS chipset.