Broadcom First to Market with a Global Location Chip for Wearable Devices

This whole wearable computing thing doesn't appear to be disappearing anytime soon, so rather than ignore the market, Broadcom is embracing it by introducing what it claims is the world's first Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) system-on-chip (SoC) designed for low-power, mass-market wearable gadgets -- devices such as fitness trackers and smart watches.

An on-chip sensor hub helps users track and manage their health by giving precision tracking and location data. It constantly monitors user activity levels and location history to improve accuracy, all while consuming less power than traditional architectures, according to Broadcom.

Broadcom Runnter
Image Source: Broadcom

"Today's wearables like fitness trackers have surged in popularity, but often miscalculate speed and distance," said Mohamed Awad, Broadcom Director, Marketing, Mobile and Wireless Group. "As the largest supplier of discrete GNSS solutions, Broadcom brings its location expertise to deliver more precise fitness and health measurements to the accelerating wearable market."

Broadcom builds the chip on a 40nm process technology. It's capable of running on-chip algorithms to detect the user's context, compute speed and distance traveled, and provide fitness applications with the GNSS track.

As for when you might see devices using Broadcom's new chip, they're likely to appear this year. Broadcom said it will begin sampling the BCM4771 part by the end of the first quarter.