Todd Humphreys: How to fool a GPS

We all know that our actual location-based systems and services, such as Google Maps, Foursquare or Google Places very much depend on the Global Positioning System (GPS). Of course there are some supporting technologies, such as Assisted Global Positioning System (AGPS) which combines the GPS signal with additional data that comes over other networks (like GSM) to increase the accuracy and availability of GPS. Today alternative location based systems such as WLAN based locationing systems are not as widespread as GPS, so GPS remains the one and only globally available positioning system on which we all heavily rely on, even if we know  that GPS has serious security flaws.

In this interesting TED talk Todd Humphreys forecasts the near-future of geolocation when millimeter-accurate GPS “dots” will enable to find pin-point locations, index-search your physical possessions … or to track people without their knowledge. And the response to the sinister side of this technology may have unintended consequences of its own.

Todd Humphreys talks about the GPS technology and its future and how we can address some of its biggest security problems.

Google launches MyTracks 2.0 for Android

My Tracks_android

Google recently launched MyTracks in version 2.0. MyTracks supports bikers and runners to keept track of theyr running activities and routes. It was also used by the Team HTC-Columbia during the Tour de France, in order to track the realtime route of the different bikers. MyTracks offers all necessary tour statistics and provides useful integration interfaces for Google Earth and other systems. You can use Google MyTracks as a free app on your Smartphone. See following screenshots taken from MyTracks app:

Similar apps for tracking outdoor activities are: Endomondo and Runtastic. I love Endomondo to tracking my mountain bike tours, where i usually take my daughter with me in a children’s bike seat. Following screenshots show some features of Endomondo, such as tracking tours and workouts, analytics, diagrams, community sharing and many more.



Endomondo Sports Tracker



Track your thief: open source tracking device

A successful burglary was the root of this project on kickstarter, which offers an open source tracking device with onboard GSM shield for reporting back to the owner of the tracked device. The tracking board contains all hardware you need to find out who stole your TV set or Playstation (and where it is stored at the moment). In detail the board contains:

  • GPS – An ultra sensitive -165dBm receiver with on board passive antenna that can be configured to a 10Hz update rate.
  • GSM – SIM900 Quad band GSM module to connect to the GSM cellular network. Unlocked SIM card necessary (not included).
  • USB Battery charger – charge rate set to 500mA by way of mini USB connector. Can be charged directly from most computers.
  • Lipo Fuel Gauge – MAX17043 single cell lithium polymer fuel gauge.
  • Accelerometer – BMA250 Triple axis +/-2 to +/-16g 10 bit accelerometer.
  • Microcontroller – ATMega328p running at 3.3v 8MHz with the Arduino bootloader installed
  • Power,GND,I2C,SPI,4 Analog/Digital and 1 digital IO pin headers
  • Optional underside coin cell battery (CR1225) backup holder to retain GPS memory if main battery is disconnected