Have you ever sent your location to somebody and then realized you’re a few buildings away from the marker on the map? Well, that’s exactly what Xiaomi aims to fix with dual frequency GPS receivers on their new flagships, the Mi 8 and the Mi 8 Explorer Edition.
Why should you care about Dual-band GPS?
The new technology is said to offer accuracy to within about 30cm which is phenomenal, considering the present day accuracy is up to 5m only. For those of you keeping count, that’s about 16 times more accurate than your current smartphone!
Xiaomi showed us a quick demo of this technology during the launch event today in Shenzhen, China, where a car with completely blacked out windows is driven through a closed path with the driver using nothing, but just Xiaomi’s Mi 8 smartphone with dual GPS receivers to navigate his way, and still manages to make sure the car is within the stipulated bounds. This shows the level of accuracy Xiaomi is trying to achieve with their latest flagships when it comes to GPS navigation.
Dual-Frequency GPS: L1 and L5 bands
A conventional smartphone without this technology uses just one frequency band, namely the L1 band in order to provide a satellite view of your position, which in turn can be viewed on your smartphone. Using dual receivers on the Mi 8 and Mi 8 Explorer Edition, Xiaomi is using two frequency bands, the L1 and L5, beamed from satellite constellations and uses a combination of the two frequencies instead of one to compute your current position. This results in better accuracy even in cities with high-rise buildings without any interception. The dual-frequency approach is currently used in the oil and gas exploration industry, but hardly in consumer markets; till now.
The L1 band provides an initial position that is refined with the L5 band, which is also less prone to distortions caused by signals bouncing off buildings in a city. This technology is pretty recent as there weren’t as many satellites in orbit to offer enough coverage in every part of the World. This, however, seems to be fixed now with as many as 30 L5 satellites in orbit, enough to mass-market the technology Xiaomi is using.
We are not sure who’s providing the Dual-frequency GPS chip to Xiaomi, but we know Broadcom, who has bee a world leader with GPS tech has been working on the exact solution for a while now. We won’t be surprised if Mi 8 is indeed carrying Broadcom’s tech for dual-band GPS tracking.
With Xiaomi making the first move towards a more accurate GPS experience on smartphones, it’s just a matter of time before other OEMs jump onto the bandwagon and use the dual receiver GPS technology on their devices. Yet again, Xiaomi has proved to be a trendsetter by adopting latest technologies in their devices.