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Microsoft Research Brings GPS to the Cloud

GPS is a big battery drain for smartphones, tablets, and other GPS devices. Microsoft is trying to solve this problem by combining short bursts of GPS data with other data sets, allowing the server-side to do more of the processing with less information.

Microsoft has a lot of talent in the area of machine learning and may be uniquely qualified to tackle this issue. More battery-efficient GPS is something we could all benefit from, at any rate.
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I've wondered if google wasn't doing the same as a side project from Ingress. Not that it's the main purpose, but very conceivable.

It could be a lot of data that they're collecting.
+Bram Warrick You can almost bet there's at least a seed-project trying the same thing at Google.

Google and MS both spend a lot on R&D.  For every idea we see some to a named fruition, there are probably a thousand smaller projects that either went nowhere or got folded into something else.
Would they share with the world? Or, only allow it to be used on Windows?
Ahh Microsoft research the department that makes really cool things that microsoft never brings to market or if they do it is a gimped up version of it. 
It's not the calculations and data that consume battery: It's attempting to maintain contact with several satellites as the phone moves from place to place (such as a turn-by-turn navigation scenario) that uses up so much power. Microsoft's suggestion, evidently, is to trade at least some of those satellites for atomic clock-servers on the ground.

If it works, it will be less accurate than true GPS and much less reliable due to network issues such as congestion, dropouts and packet loss.

The advantage is to the carrier, who can make the device even more useless without a data plan by crippling the onboard GPS, and third parties who might have a keen interest in monitoring your movements  (advertisers, police) who wouldn't otherwise know where you were literally every second of the day.

Thanks but no thanks, micro$uck. I like my GPS the way it is.
+Gary Royal You say it's maintaining satellite contact that is the data drain. Sure it us. But the amount of contact necessary can potentially be reduced if shorter contact periods can yield the same level of data, like moving from full to partial fingerprint analysis. I've never known MS to be especially concerned with the good old carriers. Let's see how this works out.
More accurately, it's trying to maintain a signal lock under varying conditions that uses up all the power.

GPS works by comparing the clocks of several satellites and a receiver; the difference between the source and reference clock tells you the distance between the two clocks, and given the coordinates of the satellites in space you can compute the position of the reference clock by triangulation. 

If the phone were stationary, the coordinates would never have to be updated, so the GPS could go back to sleep indefinitely. But a moving phone (in navigation mode) has to constantly retune its radio for satellites that appear or drop over the horizon, or the signal gets blocked by a highway overpass, and so on. In a navigation scenario the data has to be updated in real time to be useful, 'cause you need to know to make a turn before you reach the intersection rather than afterward. That burns some juice, though anybody who actually relies on their phone as a GPS will have a car charger, so the battery issue is moot.

But assume that for some reason (certainly not accuracy or reliability) you used a ground server for one or more of your source clocks. You would have as a byproduct a real-time log of the reference clock's movements though space. If you think Microsoft would merely dispose of this surplus data about you, you're missing the point of collecting it altogether.

The battery issue is a red herring. Read between the lines.
+Gary Royal Wow, you really distrust Microsoft. Can't say I entirely blame you.
I think they're desperate enough to hold onto the enterprise market to make geo-surveillance of managed devices a feature of Windows Phone platform, yeah.
It's a shame, but the on/off button is probably patented. Otherwise we could just turn GPS off. I guess no one would know where we are though. Damn!
That's exactly the issue. Microsoft says it's developing a GPS device that need never be turned off, so who needs a switch? You can always remove the battery (oh wait, on Windows Phone models you can't). Oh well. If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear, right?
+Gary Royal Privacy rights are as they always were, on the brink. Can't slow technology. It takes a culture to demand our right to privacy.
MS can do any damn fool thing it wants, it's imploding anyway. 
I bet McAfee wishes his iPhone had a button for GPS.
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