A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2018 Jun 12, 15:48 -0700
An interesting article in the mail just now from GPS World:
The article describes a new dual-frequency Xiaomi smartphone which has the potential to provide positions accurate to a few tenths of a meter (that's about a foot for us Americans). This is off-the-shelf accuracy for ordinary users which will enable significantly improved augmented reality capabilities among other applications. Most current devices under normal conditions provide positions accurate to a few meters. So this is approximately a factor of ten improvement in accuracy.
The accuracy of GPS/GNSS positions is only tangentially relevant to traditional navigation. There's an interesting way in which that accuracy matters. I find that folks approaching celestial navigation for the first time, learning about its capabilities, are more often than not a bit shocked to discover that the accuracy is only about one mile, and that's in good conditions. "That's it?", they say, and "it hasn't gotten any better?", they ask. Ten years ago, in my experience teaching, students were less shocked. We are indeed getting spoiled by the amazing accuracy of positioning by satellite signals.We are further spoiled, of course, by the exponential advancement of electronic technology. Rapid improvement is expected. A factor of ten every few years seems "normal" to us. This "Moore's Law" growth can't last forever, but it has shaped our era. Consider that an early transistor radio had about ten transistors... while your smartphone has about ten billion transistors. A billion here, a billion there... pretty soon we're talking serious revolution.