GPS is one of these science fiction applied sciences whose use is easy for the finish consumer and endlessly difficult for the engineers who design it. It’s now at the coronary heart of fashionable life: all the things from Amazon package deal deliveries to our automobiles and vans to our walks by way of nationwide parks are centered round a pin on a map that screens us down to just a few meters.
Yet, GPS expertise is many years previous, and it’s going by way of a much-needed modernization. The U.S., Europe, China, Japan and others have been putting in a brand new generation of GNSS satellites (GNSS is the generic title for GPS, which is the particular title for the U.S. system) that can supply stronger alerts in what is called the L5 band (1176 MHz). That means extra correct map pinpoints in contrast to the authentic generation L1 band satellites, notably in areas the place line-of-sight may be obscured like city areas. L5 was “designed to meet demanding requirements for safety-of-life transportation and other high-performance applications,” as the U.S. government describes it.
It’s one factor to put satellites into orbit (that’s the straightforward half!), and one other to construct power-efficient chips that may scan for these alerts and triangulate a coordinate (that’s the onerous half!). So far, chipmakers have targeted on creating hybrid chips that pull from the L1 and L5 bands concurrently. For instance, Broadcom recently announced the second-generation of its hybrid chip.
OneNav has a completely completely different opinion on product design, and it positioned it proper in its title. Eschewing the hybrid chip mannequin of mixing previous alerts with new, it needs one chip monitoring the singular band of L5 alerts to drive value and energy financial savings for units. One nav to rule all of them, because it have been.
The firm introduced at this time that it has closed a $21 million Series B spherical led by Karim Faris at GV, which is solely funded by Alphabet. Other buyers included Matthew Howard at Norwest and GSR Ventures, which invested in earlier rounds of the firm. All collectively, OneNav has raised $33 million in capital and was based about two years in the past.
CEO and co-founder Steve Poizner has been in the location enterprise a very long time. His earlier firm, SnapTrack, constructed out a GPS positioning expertise for cell units that sold to Qualcomm for $1 billion in stock in March 2000, at the peak of the dot-com bubble. His co-founder and CTO at OneNav Paul McBurney has equally spent many years in the GNSS house, most lately at Apple, in accordance to his LinkedIn profile.
They noticed a chance to construct a brand new navigation firm as L5 band satellites have switched on lately. As they checked out the market and the L5 tech, they determined they needed to go additional than different corporations by eliminating the legacy tech of older GPS expertise and shifting totally into the future. By doing that, its design is “half the size of the old system, but much higher reliability and performance,” Poizner mentioned. “We are aiming to get location technology into a much broader number of products.”
He differentiated between upgrading GPS from upgrading wi-fi alerts. “With these L5 satellites, we don’t need the L1 satellites anymore [but] with 5G, you still need 4G,” he mentioned. L5 band GPS does all the things that earlier renditions did, however higher, whereas with wi-fi applied sciences, they usually want to complement one another to supply peak efficiency.
There’s one caveat right here: the L5 sign continues to be thought-about “pre-operational” by the U.S. authorities, since the U.S. GPS system solely has 16 satellites broadcasting the sign at this time, and is concentrating on 24 satellites for full deployment by later on this decade. However, different nations have additionally deployed L5 GNSS satellites, which implies that whereas it is probably not absolutely operational from the U.S. authorities’s perspective, it might be ok for shoppers.
OneNav’s objective in accordance to Poizner is to be “the Arm of the GNSS space.” What he means is that like Arm, which produces the chip designs for practically all cell phones globally, OneNav creates complete designs for L5 band GPS chips that may be built-in as a system-on-chip into the merchandise of different producers in order that they’ll “embed a high-performance location engine based on their silicon.”
The firm at this time additionally introduced that its first design buyer can be In-Q-Tel, the U.S. intelligence neighborhood’s enterprise capital and enterprise improvement group. Poizner mentioned that by way of In-Q-Tel, “we now have a development contract with a U.S. government agency.” The firm is anticipating that its buyer analysis models can be accomplished by the finish of this 12 months with the goal of probably having OneNav’s expertise in end-user units by late 2022.
Location monitoring has turn into a serious space of funding for enterprise capitalists, with corporations engaged on a spread of applied sciences exterior of GPS to supply further element and performance the place GPS falls brief. Poizner sees these applied sciences as finally complementary to what he and his staff are constructing at OneNav. “The better the GPS, the less pressure on these augmentation systems,” he mentioned, whereas acknowledging that, “it is the case though that in certain environments [like downtown Manhattan or underground in a subway], you will never get the GPS to work.”
For Poizner, it’s a bit of a return to entrepreneurship. Prior to beginning OneNav, he had been closely concerned in California state politics. Several years after the sale of SnapTrack to Qualcomm, he unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the California State Assembly. He later was elected California’s insurance coverage commissioner in 2007 beneath former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He ran for governor in 2010, shedding in the Republican main in opposition to Meg Whitman, who made her title as the longtime head of eBay. He ran for his former seat of California insurance coverage commissioner in 2018, this time as a political independent, however misplaced.
OneNav relies in Palo Alto and at present has greater than 30 workers.