Start-up company unveils its first product the Airwave-1 chip

The company says the chip consumes only 1 per cent of power required by current GPS solutions and predicts that it will open up a whole new range of location-based applications.

Air Semiconductor's technology continuously tracks the user's location, thus allowing instant location updates, with negligible power drain. The company says it is the only technology capable of delivering instant and continuous positioning information to battery-operated devices and that it will open up a whole new range of location-based  applications. 

Airwave-1 requires as little as 1 per cent of the power required by current GPS solutions and consumes only 1mA when continuously tracking, according to company figures. Samples will be available in the summer of 2008.

The chip could be used, for example, to enable cameras to automatically geotag images. Online communities such as Google Earth and Flickr see over two million images a month geotagged manually. Also, services could be offered on mobile handsets, where the users̵7; location triggers an alarm, a reminder or a promotional message (walk past a shop and your phone tells you what's on sale).

The key point here is that location functionality could be added to handsets without significant impact on power budgets; this could herald a new generation of autonomous location sensitive applications on mobile handsets.

Air Semiconductor, which is based in  Swindon, the UK, was founded by David Tester and Stephen Graham, who have spent the last 18 months developing the new proprietary technology that utilises signals from GPS satellites in an innovative manner. The company is backed by venture capital fund Pond Venture Partners and is in initial discussions with several digital camera manufacturers.

Airwave-1 operates by providing continuous location tracking and hence eliminating time-to-first-fix.  It uses an adaptive technology which maintains a constant watch on its location but can almost instantly focus to provide a pin-point fix. The single-chip contains all RF and digital hardware and the software needed to calculate location data.  It outputs location data in a format that enables simple integration into consumer devices. 

̶0;The Airwave-1 approach to GPS is truly novel and addresses a real market need," said Will Strauss, President and Principal Analyst at Forward Concepts (Tempe, Arizona, U.S.A.). "Air Semiconductor's very-low-power technology allows them to address portable markets that have been impractical for GPS because of battery drain and first-fix timing concerns associated with current chip products,̶1; he added.

̶0;Pond has invested in Air as we see a combination of groundbreaking, next generation technology, a large potential market and a superb team,̶1; commented Mike Gera, a General Partner at Pond Venture Partners. ̶0;The team blends David̵7;s technical expertise, Stephen̵7;s commercial and marketing know-how with the first-class skills possessed by the rest of the team. At Pond, we see this as a winning combination that we are prepared to back strongly.̶1;

Stephen Graham, co-founder and CEO at Air said, ̶0;Air̵7;s technology is very novel, but because the result is so compelling and so easy to understand I am not surprised by the positive response we are receiving from camera manufacturers. Continuous location in battery operated devices is a breakthrough with wide-reaching implications; digital cameras is just the tip of the iceberg.̶1;

Image: David Tester (left), co-founder and CTO, and Stephen Graham (right), co-founder and CEO, of Air Semiconductor

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