GPS is one of these science fiction applied sciences whose use is easy for the finish consumer and endlessly difficult for the engineers who design it. It’s now at the coronary heart of fashionable life: every part from Amazon bundle deliveries to our vehicles and vans to our walks by means of nationwide parks are centered round a pin on a map that displays us down to a number of meters.
But, GPS expertise is a long time outdated, and it’s going by means of a much-needed modernization. The U.S., Europe, China, Japan and others have been putting in a new generation of GNSS satellites (GNSS is the generic identify for GPS, which is the particular identify for the U.S. system) that can provide stronger indicators in what is called the L5 band (1176 MHz). Which means extra correct map pinpoints in contrast to the authentic generation L1 band satellites, significantly in areas the place line-of-sight could be obscured like city areas. L5 was “designed to meet demanding necessities for safety-of-life transportation and different high-performance purposes,” as the U.S. government describes it.
It’s one factor to put satellites into orbit (that’s the straightforward half!), and one other to construct power-efficient chips that may scan for these indicators and triangulate a coordinate (that’s the arduous half!). Up to now, chipmakers have centered on creating hybrid chips that pull from the L1 and L5 bands concurrently. For instance, Broadcom recently announced the second-generation of its hybrid chip.
OneNav has a completely completely different opinion on product design, and it positioned it proper in its identify. Eschewing the hybrid chip mannequin of mixing outdated indicators with new, it desires one chip monitoring the singular band of L5 indicators to drive value and power financial savings for gadgets. One nav to rule all of them, because it had been.
The corporate introduced right this moment that it has closed a $21 million Collection B spherical led by Karim Faris at GV, which is solely funded by Alphabet. Different buyers included Matthew Howard at Norwest and GSR Ventures, which invested in earlier rounds of the firm. All collectively, OneNav has raised $33 million in capital and was based about two years in the past.
CEO and co-founder Steve Poizner has been in the location enterprise a very long time. His earlier firm, SnapTrack, constructed out a GPS positioning expertise for mobile gadgets that sold to Qualcomm for $1 billion in stock in March 2000, at the height of the dot-com bubble. His co-founder and CTO at OneNav Paul McBurney has equally spent a long time in the GNSS area, most not too long ago at Apple, in accordance to his LinkedIn profile.
They noticed a chance to construct a new navigation firm as L5 band satellites have switched on in recent times. As they checked out the market and the L5 tech, they determined they needed to go additional than different corporations by eliminating the legacy tech of older GPS expertise and shifting completely into the future. By doing that, its design is “half the dimension of the outdated system, however a lot increased reliability and performance,” Poizner stated. “We're aiming to get location expertise into a much wider quantity of merchandise.”
He differentiated between upgrading GPS from upgrading wi-fi indicators. “With these L5 satellites, we don’t want the L1 satellites anymore [but] with 5G, you continue to want 4G,” he stated. L5 band GPS does every part that earlier renditions did, however higher, whereas with wi-fi applied sciences, they typically want to complement one another to provide peak performance.
There’s one caveat right here: the L5 sign continues to be thought of “pre-operational” by the U.S. authorities, since the U.S. GPS system solely has 16 satellites broadcasting the sign right this moment, and is focusing on 24 satellites for full deployment by later on this decade. Nevertheless, different international locations have additionally deployed L5 GNSS satellites, which signifies that whereas it will not be absolutely operational from the U.S. authorities’s perspective, it could be ok for shoppers.
OneNav’s aim in accordance to Poizner is to be “the Arm of the GNSS area.” What he means is that like Arm, which produces the chip designs for practically all mobile telephones globally, OneNav creates complete designs for L5 band GPS chips that may be built-in as a system-on-chip into the merchandise of different producers in order that they will “embed a high-performance location engine primarily based on their silicon.”
The corporate right this moment additionally introduced that its first design buyer will likely be In-Q-Tel, the U.S. intelligence group’s enterprise capital and enterprise growth group. Poizner stated that by means of In-Q-Tel, “we now have a growth contract with a U.S. authorities company.” The corporate is anticipating that its buyer analysis models will likely be accomplished by the finish of this 12 months with the goal of probably having OneNav’s expertise in end-user gadgets by late 2022.
Location monitoring has turn out to be a serious space of funding for enterprise capitalists, with corporations working on a spread of applied sciences outdoors of GPS to provide extra element and performance the place GPS falls quick. Poizner sees these applied sciences as finally complementary to what he and his group are constructing at OneNav. “The higher the GPS, the much less strain on these augmentation programs,” he stated, whereas acknowledging that, “it's the case although that in sure environments [like downtown Manhattan or underground in a subway], you'll by no means get the GPS to work.”
For Poizner, it’s a bit of a return to entrepreneurship. Prior to beginning OneNav, he had been closely concerned in California state politics. A number of years after the sale of SnapTrack to Qualcomm, he unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the California State Meeting. He later was elected California’s insurance coverage commissioner in 2007 underneath former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He ran for governor in 2010, dropping in the Republican primary towards Meg Whitman, who made her identify as the longtime head of eBay. He ran for his former seat of California insurance coverage commissioner in 2018, this time as a political independent, however misplaced.
OneNav is predicated in Palo Alto and at the moment has greater than 30 staff.
Source : TechCrunch