tech

What is NavIC? The ISRO tech smartphone brands are clamouring to claim

After Indian Space Research Organisation announced NavIC, smatphone makers made a beeline for the tech that might replace the GPS on devices.

After Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced NavIC, smatphone makers made a beeline for the tech that might replace the GPS on devices.
After Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced NavIC, smatphone makers made a beeline for the tech that might replace the GPS on devices. (Pixabay)

After Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced NavIC, smatphone makers made a beeline for the tech that might replace the GPS on devices. Xiaomi announced recently that they were going to bring NavIC to smartphones in 2020 and Realme followed it up by saying that their recently launched Realme X50 Pro has the tech in it already.

ISRO has partnered with Qualcomm to integrate NavIC to its new processors that are meant for budget and mid-range smartphones and the chip-maker has announced that its Snapdragon 765, 720G, 460 and 662 support NavIC, as does the Snapdragon 7c that's meant for laptops and computers.

Also Read: Remember ISRO's NavIC chip? Xiaomi is going to bring it to their smartphones in 2020

Interestingly, the Realme X50 Pro runs on the Snapdragon 865 and Qualcomm has not yet confirmed if the 865 supports NavIC or not.

However, doubts aside, NavIC is important for both India and smartphones since it will push India's Make in India agenda further with indigenous tech that can replace GPS. While we wait to find out what Qualcomm has to say about the 865, here's a refresher for all the key things you need to know about NavIC:

What is NavIC?

NavIC stands for Navigation with Indian Constellation and is based on the Sanskrit word for navigator or sailor. NavIC essentially refers to Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), which is a collection of navigation-based satellites that works on providing accurate position information service to India. At the moment, NavIC consists of seven satellites - three of which are in a geostationary orbit over the Indian Ocean and four that are in a geosynchronous orbit.

This service is quite similar to GPS (Global Position System).

The back story

Back in 1999, India sought GPS data from the US to track Pakistani troops in Kargil. The request was denied by the US. Since then, India has been working on an indigenous satellite system for location services.

Almost two decades later, the NavIC system is inching closer to the commercial usage.

It is worth noting that the system aims to provide two types of services. The first "Standard Position Services" (SPS) will be available to all civilian users and the "Restricted Services" (RS) will be available to authorised users including defence and intelligence agencies.

NavIC also puts India in an elite club of nations that have their satellite-based location services like US' GPS, the Russian Glonass, China's BeiDou and Europe's Galileo.

Better than GPS?

NavIC is said to be much better than GPS because it is supposed to be accurate up to 5 meters - more efficient than GPS' 20 to 30 meters accuracy.

NavIC's applications

ISRO says the NavIC is mainly aimed at users in India as well as users in the region extending up to 1,500km from the country's boundaries.

Users can expect their future phones to use NavIC to access location-based services such as Uber, Ola Cabs, Google Maps etc. ISRO said that users can expect the satellite system to help provide visual and voice navigation for drivers.

According to ISRO, the technology can be used for things such as disaster management, terrestrial navigation assistant to hikers and travellers, vehicle tracking and fleet management, precise timing, aerial and marine navigation and more.

Also Read: India's first smartphone with ISRO's NavIC tech is already available for purchase