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The founder of GPS antenna manufacturer Sarantel has attacked the electronics industry for not taking responsibility for ensuring that GPS products are of sufficiently high quality to be useful.

Dr Oliver Leisten, the company’s CTO, also said the Government had a role to play from a road safety point of view. “The customer is the person who...

The founder of GPS antenna manufacturer Sarantel has attacked the electronics industry for not taking responsibility for ensuring that GPS products are of sufficiently high quality to be useful.

Dr Oliver Leisten, the company’s CTO, also said the Government had a role to play from a road safety point of view. “The customer is the person who has to have the savvy to understand the difference between a quality product and a lousy product,” said Leisten. “I don’t think that is a responsible position for the industry to hold.”

“I think the Government ought to do something about the question of navigation. If they take an interest in road safety, one material issue should be the quality of device used to direct the public on roads they’re not familiar with,” added Leisten.

Sarantel recently delivered the one millionth example of its dielectrically loaded, helically wound antennas. Leisten said the majority have gone into handheld GPS devices, but the low near-field nature of the antennas also makes them suitable for emerging MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) designs for improved bandwidth and range in applications such as Wi-Fi.

“You feel the weight of responsibility for getting it right,” continued Leisten. “The designers of the gizmos that go into the shops need to be mindful that they have that responsibility. It’s not really any good just to say in the blurb that you shouldn’t use this product for navigation. It’s been sold for navigation.”

However, Tim Fowler, business development manager in the wireless business unit at Cambridge Consultants, said the accuracy required depends on the application.

“There are certain GPS devices that give you reasonably good fix, but depending what application you’re going to apply it to that will make a big difference to how important it is to find somebody,” he said.

For example, using GPS to localise someone to around 50m in the mountains is very useful when compared to alternative search techniques.


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