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Broadcom's WiFi SoC targets indoor positioning apps

Posted: 03 Apr 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Broadcom  indoor location  WiFi  fine timing measurement  SoC 

Broadcom has rolled out an 802.11ac SoC geared for indoor positioning applications. According to the company, the BCM43462 SoC is dual band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) with three-stream spatial multiplexing up to 1.3Gb/s. The chip boasts a more powerful ARM processor than previous devices, is able to process location coordinates within several nanoseconds, and uses fine timing measurement (FTM), also known as round trip time stamping.

"Venue operators, from stadiums and malls to campuses and dense urban areas, are all looking for ways to provide indoor location tracking capability and monetize their WiFi infrastructure," Mike Powell, director of product marketing for Broadcom's Infrastructure and Networking Group, told EE Times.

BCM43462 SoC

Indoor location technology is a burgeoning market, analysts say. (Source: Broadcom)

"A lot of this new location technology is coming along at the same time as 11ac, and... having indoor location technology that's good or better than outdoor location technology is going to be very important for end users," Powell said.

"FTM allows us to timestamp exact times when a packet leaves the access point to a smartphone, and back again. The SoC is able to do processing and location roughly within one meter of the user. We're talking three to four feet for advertisements," Powell said.

Broadcom's FTM technology differs from other indoor location chips, which often rely on received signal strength indicator technology, where signal strength and performance can vary depending on environmental factors such as crowd density or temperature. As FTM becomes standard, Powell noted, quick time stamping between access points and handsets is necessary.

"A lot of this capability is dormant in handset devices starting to ship with 11ac, so it's not one of those things that will take a long, long time to light up. As people deploy more access points, the clients will be there to interact," Powell said.

The chip is already sampling and will go into mass production at the end of 2Q14.

- Jessica Lipsky
  EE Times

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