GPS is a godsend when it works. Problem is, there are plenty of places it doesn't work — tall skyscrapers, concrete overpasses, and other huge structures all block the satellite signal you need to navigate. Luckily, Swiss company u-blox just devised a chip that keeps you on course when the satellites drop out, using the most old-fashioned of navigation techniques: dead reckoning.
The u-blox 3D Dead Reckoning chip uses a bevy of accelerometers, gyroscopes and speed sensors to calculate a car's exact location, no GPS signal needed. By measuring the direction, speed and distance the car has travelled since the last GPS check-in, the chip can tell if the car's still on the intended route, or if it's veered off into lost-land. u-blox's demonstration video, narrated by a charming Walter Cronkite imitator, explains in more detail:
The 3D Dead Reckoning chip isn't packed in to any currently-available GPS systems, and it's not really clear whether the company intends to sell these things to equipment manufacturers or directly to consumers — though the press release indicates it shouldn't be too hard to install yourself.
It's one of those simple-seeming pieces of tech that makes you wonder, "why didn't anyone think of this before?" And I'm willing to bet it's a lot more reliable than your seat-of-the-pants guesses of how far off course you've ventured when you hit a GPS dead zone. [u-blox via MotorAuthority]