Small GPS Tracking Chips

by Joe Mueller on August 11, 2009

I know this may be old news to some of the GPS enthusiasts of the world, but there is this company from New Zealand that is making some really ridiculously small GPS tracking chips – and I mean ridiculously small.  The company’s name is Rakon, and they make GPS chips for all sorts of things, but most of their chips are geared toward GPS cell phone market.  The fact that these chips are so small is important for all those in the GPS tracking community for several different reasons, the least of which is that small GPS chips are freakin’ cool.  The others mainly have to do with the future of GPS tracking.

But before we get into all the cool future stuff, let’s understand a little bit about the GPS chips that Rankon is putting out there.  These are powerful chips that function at some of the highest levels in the consumer grade GPS tracking products.  They do an excellent job at handling weak signal and dynamic environments, enabling maximum GPS performance when you need it most.  Their chips work indoor and outdoors, under tree canopies or in canyons, on country roads or beneath sky scrappers.  And the best part about these chips is that they are really small.  One GPS chip comes in at 2.5 mm x 2.0 mm – yeah, that is right, millimeters.  That is 0.09843 inches x 0.07874 inches for all those who live in countries that still use the backword inefficient imperial system.

Freakishly Small GPS Tracking ChipNeedless to say, when a cell phone company wants a small GPS tracking chip to install in their cell phone they are going to consider the folks at Rankon.

But it is pretty obvious that people who want to create GPS tracking cell phones are going to look for a small GPS chip. They want to conserve space inside their phone so that they can make is as slim and sleek as possible. Consumers want something that is going to be easy to use – meaning that it is lightweight but sturdy, small but not too small, powerful but not power hungry, and full of features (like GPS navigation and GPS tracking) but not too hard to use – and by giving them a small chip to use in the phone a company like Rankon is empowering phone creators to dream big with their phone designs.

This is the cool factor of this technology right now, but there is a lot of potential upside to having really small GPS chips for the future. One is that this technology can be used to help people keep track of their pets. Small GPS tracking chips for dogs could be implanted somewhere under the skin on the back of the dog and if coupled with the right technology this could provide real time GPS tracking of the pet’s whereabouts on a 24/7 basis.


The extra technology that you would need to generate to make something like this isn’t too hard to dream up. You would just need an ability to communicate wirelessly with a cell phone tower. This is technology that is already being made smaller and smaller. Today there are watches, which are much smaller than cell phones, that have the ability to make phone calls over the wireless networks that dot the countrysides of the world. I can only see this technology getting smaller and smaller too until one day it fits within a 2.5 mm x 2 mm space.

The next technology that would be needed will be some sort of power supply that is renewable and persistent. That way the small GPS tracking chip and the cell phone transmission component could be in constant use – giving it its 24/7 real time tracking capabilities. For this, I can think of two solutions. The first is to make this power source solar – so during the day the device works off the sun and then during the night is runs off stored power from during the day. This is probably a less than ideal solution since batteries never seem to have an infinite life cycle – heck, some batteries can’t even last a few months let alone 10-14 years that a dog is alive. The second solution is much better but much harder as far as I know – it is to harness the heat produced by the dog and use it to power the two devices.

This would be an incredible solution and would allow for tracking of all sorts of animal life. You could use it in a dog, but you could also tag all warm blooded animals with this type of GPS tracking chip and cell phone device combination in order to get huge amounts of position information for use in scientific research. Our ability to understand the movements of our companions here on this earth would grow at an incredibly pace.

This type of technology would also make these GPS tracking chips for children too. In fact, it would probably enable a future society to be able to know the exact location of every person in the world at the exact same time! If I wanted to get all 1984-esque, if there was a small microphone on the cell phone component then you would know where everyone in the world was and what they were talking about at any given moment. Now that would be something.

So in one way it is really cool that GPS tracking chips keep getting smaller and smaller, but in another way it is really creepy and a little unnerving. I know that technology is essentially amoral, but people sure as hell aren’t and I would hate to see what people would end up doing with this type of GPS tracking.

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