The 2014 edition of the European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) received a record number of entries, with the European GNSS Agency (GSA) Special Prize going to Elecnor Deimos for their Galileo for ARA - Design of a new Galileo Module for ARA platform project. This innovative concept aims to develop Galileo modules for the Google ARA modular smartphone concept – a potential game changer for positioning in the mobile phone market.
Since 2004, the European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) has been rewarding the best services, products, and business cases that utilize satellite navigation in everyday life. Over this time, ESNC has evolved into an international innovation competition – one that recognizes the best ideas in the field of satellite navigation. Entries come from a wide range of companies, research institutes, students and individuals.
The 2014 edition of the ESNC received a record number of entries and the European GNSS Agency (GSA) Special Prize was the most popular category – receiving a total of 152 submissions! Although all the proposals were very interesting, there can be only one winner. And this year the GSA special prize went to Elecnor Deimos for their Galileo for ARA project.
Giovanni Vecchione and Antonio Fernandez of Deimos Space received their prize, worth up to € 40 000, from GSA Head of Communications Donna Reay during the official Awards Ceremony for ESNC 2014, held on the evening of October 23 in Berlin, Germany.
“The Galileo for ARA project is looking to deploy one of Galileo’s unique and most powerful features – the E5 signal - in an innovative mass market initiative,” said GSA Executive Director Carlos des Dorides. “It showcases the positive effect that investment in European GNSS is having across Europe in driving world-class innovation.”
ARA – a modular smartphone
Led by Google with the aim of developing a smartphone comprised of individual modules, the ARA project intends to open the smartphone market to billions of new users across the globe.
“With a traditional chip structure, all of a smartphone’s functions are currently combined into a single component, which makes it difficult to add or change a function,” explains Deimos Space’s Giovanni A. Vecchione. “With a modular structure, you have the option to simply switch out a component, meaning a smartphone’s capabilities can be easily enhanced without creating unneeded electronic waste.”
Specifically, the winning project aims to develop a Galileo modular component with enhanced capabilities to be used within the framework of this module-based smartphone. To accomplish this, the team is working to shrink the receiver size to fit the modular concept.
“On the one hand, accomplishing this will extend the smartphone market to many new people,” adds Giovanni. “On the other, it will meet the increasing demand for special model smartphones where, for example, a user wants high precision GNSS capabilities.”
Giovanni explains that currently such special models are only available to the professional market: “Producing and using these types of phones today is too complex and expensive to be commercially viable to the consumer market,” he says. “But with a simpler and smaller, modular-based option, we will be able to open this market to the masses.”
E5 on your phone
Elecnor Deimos is the technology company of the Elecnor Group providing technological solutions for the Aeronautics, Aerospace, Defence, Transport, Energy and Environment, Telecommunications and Security markets.
GALILEO for ARA is the solution for demanding smartphone users looking to use one of Galileo’s most important features: the unique E5 broadband signal. The idea is to design an E5 GALILEO receiver module for the ARA platform. While mass market smartphones will use the E1 signal, the availability of high end phones offering enhanced accuracy through the use of the E5 signal will be appealing to many users.
A second module is foreseen that will implement an external antenna module interface that could be used with existing phones’ GNSS components and provide better performance to a specialised GNSS unit. The ARA phone will offer these components to those who need better precision (centimetre-level accuracy) in positioning, and multipath-resistant solutions designed for pedestrians and urban environments. Much has already been achieved using smartphones, and now is the time to enable new possibilities for the development of applications with high accuracy requirements.
The design of the modules will be done by Deimos-Space using the algorithms and expertise developed during their involvement with GSA managed FP7 research projects GRIP and ENCORE.
Deimos Space’s Giovanni A. Vecchione
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