India has already tightened up its laces to promote NavIC. It’s a more tongue-friendly name for the nation’s home-baked positioning system called Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
As per the latest reports, ISRO is now in talks with the Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi to launch smartphones with support for NavIC. Xiaomi will use mobile chips manufactured by Qualcomm to make that possible.
Back in October 2019, the US-based chipmaker announced that it would bring chipsets with the support for NavIC in the future. The chips are likely to surface in the market in the first half of 2020. Not just smartphones, the company will produce chips for automotive and IoT platforms as well.
Qualcomm also demonstrated NavIC to the masses at the India Mobile Congress in October.
Anyway, if the ISRO-Xiamoi deal gets confirmed, Xioami would become the first brand to support the Indian positioning system.
“Qualcomm has announced that its chip is going to have NaVIC and they are releasing it. Now almost Xiaomi is in agreement to have it. Xiaomi may launch its mobile phones with NavIC chipsets,” an ISRO official told Economic Times.
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What is NavIC (IRNSS)?
Up until now, the world has relied upon GPS (Global Positioning System), which is a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) initially developed by the US government and taken care of by the US Air Force.
But various nations across the globe have looked for alternatives to GPS. You might have heard about GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (European Union), making their way to the devices.
NavIC (or Navigation with Indian Constellation) is powered by a constellation of 7 satellites deployed at an orbital height of 36,000 km.
However, unlike the ones mentioned above, NavIC is an RNSS, which means it only covers India and the region up to 1500 km beyond the international borders. Hence, calling the tech “Indian GPS” is just for the purpose of reference.
There are plans to extend the range by bumping the number of satellites in the constellation. NavIC is meant to provide a standard positioning system (SPS) to all users and a Restricted Service (RS), which will be encrypted and only accessible to authorized users, including defense bodies.
It will be able to provide precise timing and location information with an accuracy of up to 20 meters. Further, it will aid terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation, disaster management, and vehicle tracking among various applications.