Patent published on December 5, 2023

Patent Promises to Improve Qualcomm's Underwater GPS Tracking for Swimmers

In the quest to improve our everyday devices, Qualcomm has recently secured a patent US11835631B2, promising an inventive solution to the challenge swimmers often face: accurately monitoring their performance during open water activities.

Imagine this: being an avid underwater enthusiast or a professional swimmer, you wish to gauge your swimming strokes' accuracy or track your path during an open swim. However, these underwater gadgets often lose reception, as the water significantly attenuates, or weakens, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals. This problem is particularly acute when the gadget is submerged in water for extended periods. For instance, capturing breaststroke data can be taxing as the wrist - sporting a tracking device - remains submerged for the stroke's large portion. The result? Inaccurate or entirely lost data.

The ongoing issue persists, with GNSS signals' penetration being highly problematic underwater. It takes an unacceptable amount of time to acquire valid ephemeris—the data required for locating a satellite in its path—extending the wait, and subsequently frustrating the user. As data files are often large, transmitting them to the device takes a long time, adding to the swimmer's ordeal.

Qualcomm's patent, however, seeks to address all this. Through a wearable gadget featuring an antenna positioned to face away from the wearer's body, it receives multiple GNSS signals to determine its geographic location without significant compromise from water attenuation. This gadget adjusts itself throughout the swim, compensates for signal weakening, and maintains constant contact with other devices. The significant innovation here is the novel design that allows the satellite signals to reach the antenna directly, without suffering from water's disruptive influence.

If successful, the device could mean the world to open water swimmers and triathletes. Imagine real-time, accurate data on your geographical position, energy expenditure, and swimming strokes' accuracy - all at the flick of your wrist, irrespective of how often it breaks the water surface. This device holds the potential to completely reinvent underwater swimming activities, from training to sports events, until it becomes an indispensable swimming tool. It may even find usage in various other water-related activities and professions like scuba diving, lifeguarding, or marine biology field research.

As we dream of the endless possibilities that this patent might unfold, let's bear in mind that patented technology often faces multiple hurdles before reaching the market, if at all. The technical idea is now secured under patent law, but whether it will enter our tangible world is a story in waiting. For now, let's watch the space and keep our fingers crossed!

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