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Apple Appears to Have Acquired GPS Firm Coherent Navigation [Confirmed]

In one of its latest efforts to bolster its mapping capabilities, Apple appears to have acquired Coherent Navigation, a Bay Area GPS-related firm founded in 2008 by engineers from Stanford and Cornell.

One of Coherent Navigation's areas of focus was High Integrity GPS ("iGPS"), a system that combines signals from the traditional mid-earth orbit GPS satellites with those from the low-earth satellites of voice and data provider Iridium to offer greater accuracy and precision, higher signal integrity, and greater jam resistance. Iridium touts iGPS as having the potential to provide location information accurate to within centimeters.

coherent_navigation_website
A number of Coherent's key employees recently began working for Apple, including tech veteran and CEO Paul Lego in January and co-founders William Bencze and Brent Ledvina as of last month. Coherent's website has also been taken offline, but on April 30 the name servers for the domain were updated to point to Apple's servers.

It is unclear exactly what the Coherent Navigation team is working on at Apple and whether there was a specific technology Apple was interested in or if it simply wanted to apply the expertise of Coherent's employees to its own projects. Lego simply notes that he is now a member of Apple's Maps team, while Ledvina and Bencze are working in similar location engineering roles.

Coherent Navigation would be just the latest in a long string of mapping-related acquisitions Apple has made over the last several years, including the developers behind Pin Drop, Locationary, WifiSLAM, Hopstop, Embark, and Broadmap. Apple has continued to improve its mapping services since a rough transition away from Google Maps with the release of iOS 6 in 2012, with the company working to add features like transit information and perhaps Street View-like imagery to its services.

Update: Apple has given its standard confirmation statement to The New York Times.
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” the company said.
No other details on the deal have been released.



Top Rated Comments

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18 months ago
I predict Apple Maps will totally blow away Google Maps after after the June 10th WWDC announcements. They have been working on this release for about 3 years and have purchased the following companies:

PlaceBase
Poly9
C3 Technologies
WiFiSlam
Locationary
HopStop
Embark
BroadMap

Read about these companies expertise and you will better understand Apple Maps. The Apple Maps platform already beats Google Map in several categories not to mention user interface and architecture.

If Apple bought Coherent, it is for their expertise in working with Iridium's network which allows communication globally when out of cellular range. You can buy an Iridium Go on Amazon for about $800 which will allow you to communicate globally with your cell phone.

Check it out here: https://youtu.be/hcrBE5hkuRU

Check out this Stanford presentation...
http://scpnt.stanford.edu/pnt/PNT09/presentation_slides/12_Bencze_iGPS.pdf
Rating: 17 Votes
18 months ago
I wonder if Apple knows that it is the data within the maps that is woefully inadequate?

Apple maps is unusable in the Caribbean and the Middle East.
Rating: 14 Votes
18 months ago

For Apple Car?


That's what I was thinking. A self driving car needs a very detailed map / navigation system.
Rating: 13 Votes
18 months ago
I've seen some big advances in the Maps on my phone.. I still keep Google Maps as a backup.. But its definitely getting better..
My only disappointment is the search.. Some things aren't their.. or lets say I search for iHop.. Well if an iHop is 2 minutes away.. it only shows that iHop. It doesn't allow me to zoom out and see all iHop locations so that I can choose which one I want to go to.. And thats what sucks
Rating: 10 Votes
18 months ago
For Apple Car?
Rating: 7 Votes
18 months ago

I wonder if Apple knows that it is the data within the maps that is woefully inadequate?

Apple maps is unusable in the Caribbean and the Middle East.


Heaven forbid they continue to develop hardware while the software continues to play catch up, which was always going to take years to improve.

I primarily use GPS in the backcountry where there is no cell service and online maps cannot be used. Any improvement in signal retention is helpful.
Rating: 7 Votes
18 months ago

For Apple Car?


You might be on to something. A self-driving car would need super accurate gps to navigate safely. This company claims that their gps is accurate to the nearest centimeters?!?

On the other hand, with all of these map related acquisitions, Map will be so cool in the future. People are complaining about Apple Map now (I always find it very good for my navigations) and don't look to the future and just simply discard map. I call that short sighted.
Rating: 7 Votes
18 months ago

Oh! Never knew there were any issues with location. I use Google Maps for navigation and never had any issues.


...which is funny because the Google Map app will leverage the exact same chip within the iDevice.

As you said, spinning this as if it will improve Maps is missing the point of the data itself being poor. If Maps can get us to the wrong location "within centimeters" vs. a few feet as it does now, it's still the wrong location. I don't need to be taken to a more accurate point when it's the WRONG location. What I'd like to see is that Apple is acquiring a source of much better location(s) data and/or talent that is proven capable of rapidly replacing poor (location) data with better data.

I continue to wonder why Apple isn't devising some kind of querying system that will plot (at least popularly-searched locations) per Apple's database against where Google and other mapping options thinks that same location is. When the results are mostly in harmony, flag that as good data in the Apple Maps database. Where the maps differ, either:
A. adjust the Apple data to go more with the mainstream (multiple sourced) location OR
B. show where other mapping services think it is along with where Apple thinks it is.

I could really only imagine Apple doing A (if that), but that does seem to be a systematic way to fix data weaknesses quickly (at the speed of computer processing).

And APP developers: I for one would gladly pay pretty well for a mapping app that would plot points from multiple mapping (data) sources on the same map (Apple Maps thinks it's here, Google thinks it's here, Garmin thinks it's here, etc). I imagine this would make it much easier to recognize the times when Apple's plot will probably take me to the wrong place as well as the times when Apple's plot is likely right.
Rating: 5 Votes
18 months ago

I predict Apple Maps will totally blow away Google Maps after after the June 10th WWDC announcements.


Claim chowder, guys!

They have been working on this release for about 3 years and have purchased the following companies:

PlaceBase
Poly9
C3 Technologies
WiFiSlam
Locationary
HopStop
Embark
BroadMap

Read about these companies expertise and you will better understand Apple Maps. The Apple Maps platform already beats Google Map in several categories not to mention user interface and architecture.

If Apple bought Coherent, it is for their expertise in working with Iridium's network which allows communication globally when out of cellular range. You can buy an Iridium Go on Amazon for about $800 which will allow you to communicate globally with your cell phone.

Check it out here: https://youtu.be/hcrBE5hkuRU


The C3 purchase was long ago, and we already know what came of it: FlyOver. Which, frankly, is kind of neat to look at, but rarely available. And even when it is, it's nowhere near as useful as Street View.

As for stuff like HopStop and Embark, hopefully it'll lead to Apple Maps eventually supporting mass transit. But even when it does, I don't see how that'll "blow away Google Maps", who already support that.

Personally, Maps works fine for me as far as navigation goes. It's pretty bad for POI, especially compared to Google Maps. I'm fairly confident that'll improve over time, but I see them catching up at best, not getting way better than Google.
Rating: 5 Votes
18 months ago

Google Maps's offline maps feature would likely be helpful for you. Just select the area of the map you want to save locally on your phone while you have Wi-Fi or cell service. I used that feature while on a cruise last year and still had the little blue dot showing my location in the middle of the Caribbean Sea with my iPhone in Airplane Mode and not connected to Wi-Fi.



Thank goodness! If you had used the notoriously inaccurate Apple Maps, you undoubtedly would have walked right off the side of your ship and fallen into the ocean. :rolleyes:
Rating: 4 Votes

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