Feeds

Image recognition – defense against a Lampard replay?

Geo-location missing an open goal

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Anyone for GPS?

It would seem that if you can track an iPhone or a stolen laptop using GPS or post your exact whereabouts in a massive city like New York on your phone using Glympse, you could track the position of a ball and 22 players in the relatively small area of a football pitch. Load them up with GPS tracking, and you're off.

Unfortunately, while GPS services can give your general position in a Times Square, they aren't accurate enough for the beautiful game.

GPS needs a line-of-sight to the satellite overhead. Otherwise, you get inaccurate and delayed results as the signal is obscured by buildings or gets bounced around. GPS is accurate to within 50 to 100 feet.

Ted Morgan, chief executive of location-based service provider Skyhook, which powers the iPhone and devices from Dell, Samsung and Motorola, said football would be the worst of all scenarios for GPS. The desert just outside Baghdad is ideal because the lack of structures – and people.

"Human beings are the worst thing to have around because they are full of water - they make the signal bounce like crazy and you have stadium full of metal that acts like a satellite dish. Open fields are awesome," Morgan said.

GPS can be boosted using a couple of techniques. You can triangulate a device's location using information from nearby cell-phone towers – called Assisted GPS. Also, you can use Wi-Fi with a device measuring the strength of signal from Wi-Fi transmitters and triangulating based on the identity of the Wi-Fi transmitter that the receiver has passed near. Skyhook takes advantage of Wi-Fi, GPS satellites, and cell towers plus its own positioning algorithms – and still it's looking at between 30 and 60 feet.

Geoff Glave, product manager with Absolute Software that tracks stolen PCs using GPS and Wi-Fi, puts Wi-Fi's accuracy at between 100 and 200 feet. "If you are holding a device and move 14 inches you are not going to see it - not until you walk a couple of feet will you see a change," Glave said.

Wi-Fi has an added complication. For more accuracy you must map the venue to try and pinpoint an object – a timely and potentially costly exercise that can militate against its use. But again, you're talking about a range of nine to sixteen feet in accuracy, says Skyhook's CEO.

RFID tags could be another potential answer. However, tags are only registered when they are near sensors, so you'd need to cover the ball and players with tags and the pitch with sensors.

Morgan is horribly realistic about the chances for GPS for the foreseeable future. Researchers are chipping down the yards, but the sweet spot for geo-location remains consumer devices where you only need an approximate location – such as the position of a hotel or a restaurant on a street.

"I think technology is overkill. They should try the tennis stuff - that works pretty well," Morgan said of football. He didn't name it, but the chief of a GPS and WiFi positioning company relied upon by millions of iPhone and Android users to plot their positions was talking about Hawk-Eye. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
LOHAN acquires aircraft arboreal avoidance algorithm acronyms
Is that an ARMADILLO in your PANTS or are you just pleased to see me?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.