Feature Article

April 01, 2014

Broadcom Launches 5G Wi-Fi System on a Chip for Indoor Use

Broadcom has announced a new System on a Chip (SOC) based on 5G Wi-Fi that will offer indoor connectivity.

"Broadcom's latest 5G Wi-Fi innovation with integrated AccuLocate technology delivers highly accurate sub-meter pinpoint technology that rivals the capabilities of outdoor location based technology," said Ed Redmond, Broadcom Vice President and General Manager, Compute and Connectivity. "In addition to providing a more customized user experience, this technology has the added benefit of allowing venue operators to monetize their investment in existing Wi-Fi infrastructure."

With the new system, hardware manufacturers can build “beacons” that can transmit information to mobile device users indoors, such as in large stores, airports  and stadiums. Apple has already been using beacons in some of its retail stores to target promotions and special offers. The chip uses fine timing measurement (FTM) to track users, where previous devices used the much less accurate received signal strength indicator (RSSI) technology.

Device makers will also make it easy to roll out new devices, since all the hard work of integrating components has already been done for them. Having all of the components on one chip is a clear demonstration of Moore’s Law, where the number of transistors a chip can hold doubles approximately every two years, an observation made by Intel founder Gordon E. Moore that’s continued to hold ever since the 1960s.

Analysts expect the use of location-based technology is going to be big business, especially since devices like these will make it easy for retailers to track down the locations of shoppers within its stores, something retailers will find irresistible.

"Location based technology installations will break the 25,000 mark in 2014, while mobile devices capable of supporting indoor location will reach hundreds of millions within two years," said ABI Research senior analyst Patrick Connolly. "Rising demand for these services by the world's leading venue operators and retailers is generating an immense opportunity for leading component suppliers, such as Broadcom, who are early to market with innovative solutions."

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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