The Quantum Compass: Traditional GPS Could Become Obsolete
Monday, 12 November 2018
by 👩💻 Stephanie Boyd
Advancements in technology are always on the horizon, and while it’s baffling to see just how far we’ve come in recent years, some leaps just make sense. For one thing – traditional GPS, based upon satellite tracking above the Earth, has been part of our technological culture for years now – so what’s the next step along in the evolutionary chain? According to The Independent, it could well be something being referred to as a ‘quantum compass’.
M Squared, a firm specializing in lasers – and Imperial College London researchers – have been working together to build a device that will aim to offer a more accurate navigation service without the pitfalls that can face standard GPS. For one, the device – as it is right now – is able to overcome threats of signal jamming and building blockages. This means that, in years to come, it may prove to be a more reliable alternative to our current navigational standards.
What’s involved is a quantum accelerometer – which offers advanced navigational control – which measures tiny atoms with immense accuracy. The atoms involved are super-cold – which helps the process of being able to keep them in check.
The current device – which may well work its way into future tech – is already looking promising. “It’s self-contained and transportable,” M Squared CEO Graeme Malcolm advised The Independent, “So can be used to navigate anything that moves, from a ship to an aircraft.”
“Eventually, we could even use the technology to navigate ourselves, as we’re on a path towards miniaturizing it to the point it could fit in a smartphone.”
If anything, the teams working together see worth in bringing the pioneering tech to the world of industry. “We need new types of navigation because at the moment the world relies very heavily on the global network of satellites to tell everybody where they are,” Imperial College London’s Professor Ed Hinds advises. “It’s actually rather easy for that system to be emulated and in fact it’s been estimated that the UK alone stands to lose about a billion (UK) pounds a day if the satellite navigation system were denied.”
“This is just the start of the journey for quantum navigation. Scientists like Heisenberg and Einstein described these quantum ideas in their theories, but it’s taken until now to actually physically make them a reality,” Dr Malcolm states.
Therefore, we will have to see whether or not this new navigation standard heads to private devices – but according to the team behind this latest advancement, quantum could well be the next stage beyond digital.
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