Smartphones are packed with tons of features. Even when you think you know your phone in and out, something else can surprisingly be discovered, either from a feature in the settings you’ve never known about or an app that enables a capability that you’ve never thought of.
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I’ve recently come across a setting in my Android phone that made me scratch my head, called Qualcomm iZat. It’s located in Android’s Location settings and my phone describes it as hardware accelerated location estimation.
“Um, what?” was exactly my response when I stumbled upon it, along with “Why is this here?” Turns out that it’s pretty cool technology, developed by the renowned chipset manufacturer Qualcomm. So we thought it would be valuable to shine some light on the subject since it could really benefit users who haven’t been exposed to it yet.
We all know by now that our phone’s GPS often gets thrown off when we’re in a building. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been annoyed that I can’t see where I’m supposed to go until I exit the parking garage. Well, this is the driving purpose behind iZat. Qualcomm wanted to develop a way for the locator signal to penetrate deeper and without the boundary that we’re so accustomed to.
iZat is built into Qualcomm’s latest smartphone chipsets and uses the most accurate location determination method to date. It essentially uses a combination of GPS, WiFi, and cellular tower signals for the high accuracy triangulation of your current location. Qualcomm’s chips power many WiFi networks (via Qualcomm’s Atheros division), so they can be tapped into behind the scenes to assist with mapping out your position, even indoors (with help from the phone’s gyroscope, accelerometer, and compass sensors).
The Real Deal
You may be wondering “What’s the big deal?” Qualcomm has invested in this technology for good reasons. It wants positioning to not just tell you where you are, but who or what is around you. Suppose you’re in a big shopping mall or convention center and need help getting to a store or area. In the same way, you can navigate to a location in your car, you will be able to on foot. Also, in the same scenario, you can ping the location of friends and find them without inefficiently wasting time wandering the unknown corridors.
You can also get useful information in real time. For instance, as you move around, you can see on your map what store deals are a few steps away or which of your friends happen to be nearby. Qualcomm claims that it was mindful on the power usage of such technology. I mean, who would want to use it if it quickly drains your battery.
Tip: Because the iZat method requires that information is continually collected, Qualcomm has laid out a policy regarding the terms and privacy of the service.
Unfortunately, Qualcomm has a hurdle to overcome before iZat technology can be widely utilized. While the manufacturer provides the Atheros chips within the WiFi hotspots, partnerships have to be made before the public is allowed to tap into the networks for the location mapping. When the LG G3 was launched, we heard that South Korea was rolling out the technology, but things have been quiet since.
Now That You Know…
Hopefully, this information helped provide some insight into the evolution of location tracking. Once iZat widely rolls out, I’m certain that developers will find other neat ways for high accuracy mapping to make our lives more efficient. Are you looking forward to using the improved location technology?