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Broadcom launches satellite chip for wearable devices

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Broadcom has unveiled the industry's first Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) system-on-chip (SoC), which it said will help consumers track their health and fitness better by using more accurate fitness trackers on smart watches.

The BCM4771 chip uses 40 nanometer process technology and has a sensor hub that integrates inputs for algorithms to detect a user's location, measure speed and distance travelled and aid fitness applications with its GNSS track. 

By tightly bundling the sensor inputs and the GNSS onto one SoC, the semiconductor company said it can offer device manufacturers greater cost savings and advanced accuracy compared to other chips. 

The chip can be used with the company's Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) Smart and WICED Direct software development kits. In addition, it has a cheaper bill of materials costs because of the integration of a multipurpose sensor hub.

Mohamed Awad, Broadcom Director, Marketing, Mobile and Wireless Group, said: “Today’s wearables like fitness trackers have surged in popularity, but often miscalculate speed and distance. As the largest supplier of discrete GNSS solutions, Broadcom brings its location expertise to deliver more precise fitness and health measurements to the accelerating wearable market.”

Samsung dominates the wearable band market thanks to its Galaxy Gear smartwatch range, according to research issued this week from Canalys. 

By the end of 2014, the research agency predicts that eight million devices will be shipped, with the market hitting 23 million shipments by the end of 2015.

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