Feeds

Image recognition – defense against a Lampard replay?

Geo-location missing an open goal

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.