Super-Accurate GPS Chips Coming to Smartphones in 2018, Will Improve Cemetery Locations Accuracy

New GPS (Global Positioning System) chips will be used in future cell phones that will be accurate within 30 centimeters (11.8 inches), rather than five meters (16 feet) which is typical of today’s cell phones. At least, that’s the claim chip maker Broadcom is making. While this may not seem at first to be significant for genealogists, it should greatly improve the accuracy of locations recorded with a cell phone and its camera.

The big benefit for genealogists will be in the accuracy of locations recorded in BillionGraves.com and FindAGrave.com.

Millions of tombstones are already recorded today with accuracy of plus or minus 16 feet or sometimes even worse accuracy than that. Sixteen feet sounds like reasonable accuracy in many cemeteries, but it still is not good enough for quick location of tombstones in many family plots and certainly not close enough for pinpoint accuracy in a columbarium, a room or building with niches where funeral urns are stored.

The recent announcement from chip manufacturer Broadcom says that some of its next-generation smartphone chips will use new global positioning satellite signals to boost accuracy. In a detailed report on the announcement, IEEE Spectrum says that the new chips, which are expected to appear in some phones as soon as next year, will also use half the power of today’s chips and will even work in cities where tower blocks often interfere with existing systems.

I doubt if users of BillionGraves.com and FindAGrave.com will go back and re-visit all of the millions of locations already listed in those sites. However, as the new chips are used in more and more cell phones, the accuracy of future additions to those databases should be greatly improved.

You can read more about the new, high-accuracy GPS chips in a somewhat technical article by Samuel K. Moore in the IEEE Spectrum web site at http://bit.ly/2hsdymK.

One Comment

I am still trying to get other researchers I work with, to have them check out the GPS capabilities of their own smartphones. They will photograph markers, post them on FB (which seems to strip the GPS tags off in the process), and I still don’t know where the markers really were. A great many smartphone users I have mentioned this to, have no idea of their device’s current GPS capabilities, if any. Many of them believe their phone can only determine its location when it’s connected to the internet, when that is not the case.

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