Entrepreneurship class: We're creating a GPS company, how do we get licensing?
October 23, 2011 6:27 PM   Subscribe

Obtain a commercial license to use GPS?

I'm in a Entrepreneurship class and we have to do a feasibility study on a business idea of our own. Our team came up with a idea to have GPS Stickers. Where you can track objects that have these stickers on them.

Apparently the defense department is the one in control of GPS systems. How do we obtain a license to use the GPS system for commercial production? Any idea on the costs of this?
posted by snow_mac to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
GPS just sends signals out. No license required to listen to them.
posted by gjc at 6:40 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's been done.

As gjc says, the signals are being beamed for free. It's the tracking software, which you would be developing, that's proprietary.
posted by beagle at 6:46 PM on October 23, 2011

GPS satellites don't read signals transmitted from GPS devices. Instead, GPS devices receive signals sent from the satellites. It's strictly a one-way system: the satellites broadcast continuously. The presence (or absence) of GPS receivers has no effect on the satellites.

As a result, your stickers are going to have to be GPS receivers, and they'll also need some way to transmit location data (e.g. via the cellular phone network, with all the complications that entails). A major side-effect of this is that you'll need FCC certification for the part of the device that communicates with the outside world.
posted by jedicus at 6:51 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

APRS: Automatic Packet Reporting System is a robust and widely-deployed amateur radio location and messaging system (see, for example aprs.fi). You can build a transmitter for ~$200. It would be worth seeing if you could shift operations onto a commercially-licensed VHF frequency, and run it from there.
posted by scruss at 7:41 PM on October 23, 2011

Do you want to just have the sticker on the item record where it's been or do you want to be able to locate the item in real time? (I'm thinking of the "GPS My Droid" program I have on my phone, where I can text the phone and find out where it is.)

If you want to know where the sticker is in real time, it's going to have to transmit a signal somehow, probably over a cellular network. So you would probably need to partner with a phone company. And your sticker would have to contain an antenna to receive the GPS signal and a transmitter to send your cell (or whatever) signal. And a battery to power the transmitter.

I helped a class group last semester who had this same idea, although I think it was for a marketing class... are you the same person or is this just every business student's dream product?
posted by mskyle at 6:56 AM on October 24, 2011

posted by mskyle at 6:57 AM on October 24, 2011

There are barcoded stickers that get tracked as part of the game of geocaching; they are called Travel Bugs. You can read more about them here: http://www.geocaching.com/track/faq.aspx
posted by wenestvedt at 8:59 AM on October 25, 2011

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