GNSS Chip Cuts Power Consumption for Wearable Devices

March 4, 2014
Broadcom’s latest system-on-a-chip integrates location technology into wearable devices while consuming little power and extending battery life.

The wearable devices market is expected to reach over $6 billion in revenue by 2018, led by the sports, fitness, and wellness segment. To serve this growing market, Broadcom has recently developed a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) system-on-a-chip (SoC). Targeting low-power, mass-market wearable devices, the SoC is said to improve the accuracy of speed and distance measurements while consuming 75% less power than existing GNSS solutions.

The health and fitness market segments account for 50% of wearable-device shipments, but battery life has remained a continual issue. This SoC consumes less power to extend battery life. Such power savings are derived from the combination of location capabilities, the integrated sensor hub, contextual awareness, and GNSS. Designed with 40-nm process technology, for example, the BCM4771 utilizes an on-chip sensor hub to enable more precise activity tracking and location data. That hub integrates various sensor inputs for its on-chip algorithms that serve different fitness applications.

According to the article “Broadcom location chip promises longer wearables and true-AR” by Chris Davies of, “Since the chip is aware of speed and distance traveled, as well as being able to calculate metrics like steps-taken, it can selectively shut down non-relevant sensors - like ignoring steps when it knows the device is most likely in a car - to trim power demands.” The technology has the potential to reshape how location-based positioning technologies are integrated into future wearable devices.

About the Author

Iliza Sokol | Associate Digital Editor

Iliza joined the Penton Media group in 2013 after graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a BS in Advertising and Marketing Communications. Prior to joining the staff, she worked at NYLON Magazine and a ghostwriting firm based in New York.

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