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Latest acquisition means Apple may be leapfrogging navigation leaders

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When Apple first rolled out their own GPS system with TomTom in 2012, the results were both humorous and sad. The company wanted to get away from using Google Maps, but the first attempt was an utter failure. Since then, they have been pushing for better results and today’s acquisition may mark a new chapter for the tech giant that takes them from being a follower to being a leader in more than just maps.

Apple has acquired Coherent Navigation, a company that is considered to be on the cutting edge of “iGPS,” high-integrety global positioning systems. Some would say they are on the bleeding edge. While most GPS systems can be accurate up to 3-5 meters, Coherent Navigation is supposed to have technology that makes it much more accurate. What does this mean for Apple? Let’s speculate.

If it were simply for navigation, there would be very little use for such accuracy. Getting from one address to another does not require pinpoint precision; 3-5 meters is plenty of accuracy to navigate people to a destination. If, on the other hand, the goal was to integrate technology that could know a nearly exact location within inches (or even less than an inch) within a three dimensional grid, the possibilities are endless.

This would give Apple devices the ability to be very useful in targeting with application possibilities for gaming, virtual reality, and personal location functions. One wouldn’t need a phone to ring in order to find it in the couch. Virtual overlays would be possible within a room without the necessity to map it out first. Entire worlds could be created that fit within our own so that someone’s iPhone could not only take them to a store but could guide them directly to an individual product.

There is, of course, a dark side to all of this. What we’re describing is military grade. For example, one of the technologies tested by Coherent Navigation was Phase-Coherent Signal Simulators. It is designed to test civil GPS receivers against spoofing and jamming attacks. It would be too much speculation to think that Apple has military ambitions, but when a company is on top, there are no limits to what they can do.

All of this could be nothing. They might just be trying to make their maps better than their competitors. In fact, that’s probably the case. Still, it makes for interesting speculation. As paranoid Rob Lowe would ask, “What are you guys up to?”

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