UK chip maker promises low-cost GPS

A U.K. designer of single-chip wireless devices will buy two software companies whose technology will drop the cost of putting GPS into mobile devices.

Cambridge Silicon Radio PLC, a designer of wireless chips, will buy two software companies whose technology it claims will drop the cost of putting GPS into mobile devices.

CSR will pay US$40 million for NordNav Technologies AB and $35 million for Cambridge Positioning Systems Ltd., the companies announced Monday.

CSR's primary revenue stream comes from supplying Bluetooth chips to major mobile vendors as Nokia Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and LG Electronics Inc. CSR lacked, however, the software to integrate GPS into its Bluetooth chips.

NordNav has developed a software-based GPS technology that offers several advantages over how GPS is integrated into today's smart phones, according to a CSR spokesman.

GPS currently requires a separate chip, which makes the devices bulky and more power-hungry, because more processing is required. It can also be expensive, with GPS technology adding $5 to $10 to the production cost of the device, which has discouraged some manufacturers.

With NordNav's software, CSR claims it will be able to drive the cost down of putting GPS into mobile devices to less than $1.

CSR is buying Cambridge Positioning Systems for software that speeds up the time it takes a device to acquire a signal and location. The company also produces software that improves acquiring a signal while indoors, the CSR spokesman said.

Over the next six months, CSR will integrate the GPS technology onto its Bluetooth software stack for the chip, the spokesman said. CSR will then eventually integrate the technology within the chip itself.

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