This could turn into interesting news for digital camera owners, Trimble Navigation today announced FirstGPS, a chipset solution to enable small portable devices to "know where they are". Featured in Epson's Japanese "Locatio" product which is a PDA, phone, navigator, digital camera with built-in Internet access. FirstGPS has the lowest power consumption of any GPS receiver, requiring only 30-50 milliwatts at 3.3 volts. It's likely we'll see digital cameras of the future with built in GPS locators.

Trimble press release:

Trimble Unveils Innovative GPS Architecture for Mobile Devices


Epson Locatio:
PDA, phone, GPS nav, digital camera and Internet access all in one.

SUNNYVALE, Calif., June 22 /PRNewswire/ -- With the goal of providing the smallest and lowest power Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver for mobile devices, Trimble (Nasdaq: TRMB - news) unveiled today its new FirstGPS(TM) architecture. Trimble's FirstGPS architecture is specifically developed for power-sensitive mobile information devices such as laptops, PDAs, digital cameras, smart phones, pagers and automobile navigation systems. The architecture allows high-volume manufacturers of consumer products to add GPS location with minimal impact on the device's size or battery life.

Trimble's FirstGPS architecture is a proven technology already in use in Japan. Partnering with Seiko Epson, Trimble's pre-production architecture was first implemented in the Locatio. Seiko Epson's Locatio is the world's first combination PDA, wireless phone, personal navigator and digital camera capable of accessing the Internet. Additional information in Japanese can be found at http://www.i-love-epson.co.jp/locatio/.

``Trimble's new architecture enables a broader range of high-volume mobile information platforms to add GPS functionality where size, power, flexibility and cost are key factors,'' said Dennis Workman, Trimble's vice president of Component Technologies. ``We have a mission to make location technology a part of everyday life. These technology advances will make a greater number of consumer applications possible.''

Ultra-low Power Consumption

Trimble's FirstGPS architecture offers the lowest power consumption of any GPS receiver on the market today. Requiring only 1/3 the power of most receivers (30-50 milliwatts at 3.3 volts when updating positions every second), FirstGPS is ideal for power-sensitive applications. For devices that only need location-on-demand, several sleep and low-power modes allow for further power savings and longer battery life.

Host-based Architecture

Trimble's FirstGPS is the only host-based architecture on the market today that allows flexible integration of GPS with other real-time software tasks. Without burdening the other applications running on the mobile device, FirstGPS leverages the host microprocessor (CPU) and memory to calculate the GPS position, velocity and time solutions. This innovative architecture, which is microprocessor and real-time operating system (RTOS) independent, eliminates redundant CPUs and memory thereby reducing overall component count and product cost.

The FirstGPS architecture continues Trimble's tradition of superior and reliable performance in urban canyons and other weak-signal environments. While FirstGPS is designed for autonomous operation, this flexible architecture can also take advantage of server-based techniques for faster signal acquisition, higher position accuracy and enhanced sensitivity.

Compact Form Factor

FirstGPS architecture is extremely compact. Its high level of integration and low component count enables a footprint as small as one square inch (25mm x 25mm). This small footprint facilitates the integration of GPS functionality into a variety of mobile devices without adversely affecting product form factor and size.

Availability

Trimble will offer 8 and 12 channel versions of the FirstGPS chipset. Samples for OEM evaluation will be available in the third quarter of 2000.