LocataLite  (Source:
"LocataLites" are ground-based versions of GPS satellites that are the size of a hardcover book

Global Positioning System (GPS) technology has made its way into most of our lives either through social networking (when you check in somewhere on your Facebook) or when driving a vehicle. Current GPS tech uses satellites to pinpoint a device's location, but Australian company Locata has developed ground-based location technology that is more accurate.

Locata's new system consists of devices called "LocataLites," which are ground-based versions of GPS satellites that are the size of a hardcover book. LocataLites will be installed locally in several locations, sending out signals using the same frequency as Wi-Fi that receivers utilize to calculate an accurate location. These signals can cover several kilometers, and since LocataLites placed in the ground as opposed to tens of thousands of miles into space like traditional GPS trackers, it takes less time for LocataLites' signals to reach receivers.

While traditional GPS devices pinpoint a device's location accurate to a few meters, LocataLites will pinpoint a location accurate to a few centimeters. This sort of accurate positioning could have many benefits, such as enhancing cell phone apps and keeping track of goods and machines at construction sites and other businesses. In fact, the technology has already been promised to the U.S. Air Force, which will use the LocataLites to track aircraft on the Air Force's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Also, the LocataLites are already in use at the Boddington gold mine in Western Australia to position digging and drilling equipment.

In addition to accuracy-related benefits, Locata's new ground-based GPS tech also has cost-related advantages. Traditional GPS satellites use expensive atomic clocks to "timestamp" the signal it sends back to Earth, and receivers use that timestamp to calculate the distance from a satellite based on the time it took to get there. LocataLites do not have these pricey atomic clocks, but rather a cheaper timing chip coupled with Wi-Fi technologies that are simpler to deploy.

Locata plans to release more information next month that will allow other companies to manufacture receivers.

"It's like the early days of GPS," said Nunzio Gambale, one of Locata's co-founders. "The real explosion will happen when there are chip-scale receivers that can fit into your pocket."

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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