Global location chip targets wearables

February 21, 2014 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Adding a new level of activity and location tracking to the growing fitness and wearable device market, Broadcom Corporation claims to offer the industry's first Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) system-on-chip (SoC), designed for low-power, mass-market wearable devices such as fitness trackers and smart watches.

Consuming 75 percent less power than existing GNSS devices, the BCM4771 GNSS SoC with on-chip sensor hub enables consumers to more accurately track and manage their health and wellbeing by delivering precision activity tracking and location data while consuming less power than traditional architectures. This enables location intelligence and the extended battery life needed by the growing wearable market. Wearable wireless device revenues are projected to exceed $6 billion in 2018 with sports, fitness and wellness as the largest segment with 50 percent share of all device shipments, according to ABI Research.

The chip constantly monitors user activity levels and location history to improve accuracy while adding advanced features such as location batching. In addition, the BCM4771 significantly reduces power consumption and board area by combining its location capabilities with an integrated sensor hub, contextual awareness, and GNSS. The SoC is complimented by the company's Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED™) Smart and WICED Direct software development kits (SDKs) to provide additional wireless connectivity to the platform.

Designed in 40 nm process technology, the BCM4771 GNSS SoC includes a sensor hub that integrates sensor inputs for its on-chip algorithms to detect the user's context, accurately compute speed and distance traveled, and provide fitness applications with the GNSS track. Power savings and advanced accuracy are achieved by intelligently leveraging context detection through the tight coupling of sensor inputs and GNSS on a single SoC. The device also realizes a lower overall bill of materials (BOM) cost through the integration of a multipurpose sensor hub.