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Project Objectives

The SGPS (Sunlight based Global Positioning System) Project tries to come up with a global positioning system based on the characteristics of the Earth's rotation. Mainly, we focus on Sun's properties, such as sunlight intensity which is the easiest (and cheapest) magnitude to measure. This site contains all the information needed in order to understand, implement, test and contribute to the system.

Global positioning systems already exists, but we can create a system which is going able to develop the same task but with a philosophy other systems do not have. The objective of the project is very clear:

  • To create a system which is able to localize its position by its earth coordinates.

The main project principles are:

  • The SGPS has to be open source (both software and hardware). This way, everyone can use and test the system, contributing to the system with more and more data and creating more robust algorithms.
  • It has to be independent. There are other solutions for global positioning (such as the standard GPS) but most of them depend on goverments or institutions. The SGPS is a stand-alone, institution-independent system. Anyone with a light sensor and a microprocessor can implement and use the system.
  • It has to be low-cost. As in the previous points, low-cost devices (controllers, sensors, etc) allow the system to be implemented easily by anyone.
  • It has to be energy-efficent to create an advantage against other global positioning solutions.

These principles motivate us to create a global positioning solution available for anyone around the world.

We focus on earth's properties such sunlight intensity, sky hue, sun segmentation... But any new idea which complies the aforementioned principles is welcome!


There are many reasons why we created this community and we keep working (hard working) on this system. The first reason is that we believe that GPS system is cool...but there are not any alternatives, not to talk to open source alternatives. We believe that working together, sharing the knowledge and the experience, we can come up with a reliable system that can be used by everyone: it does not matter who you are, where you are, how you are, why do you want to use the system... It just matter that you want to use it over other, closed systems.

Main alternatives such GPS, Galileo and so on are goverment dependant and also depends on a big infrastructure (tons of satellites, for instance). If a conflict occurs, these systems can be switched off to the civil people and most of our current technology can fail: GPS navigation, new smartphones applications...

Global positioning is not just important for civil people to have a better life. It is very important in research: sensors networks, enviroment measurements... all they need a reference point and currently this is a GPS coordinates, consuming a lot of resources (energy and computation) of the devices which main used is other than localize itself.

There are other important reasons, but these are the main ones. For example, GPS alternatives are being implemented but they are not working yet, and the GPS satellites lifetime is ending, so a new system has to be implement fastly. Even more, electromagnetic solar storms are becoming more frequent and powerful. One these storms can damage the satellites and make the GPS (or other) tumble down.

Current State and Achievements

So far, the SGPS has been proved to be a reliable idea. However, its main disadvantages are as important as its main advantages. We are focusing on improving the accuracy of the system incrementing the cost and the components as less as possible. Our ideas are to include sky hue information, or to include some light sensors in the same device. Other possibilities are to create machine learning algorithms to obtain better results or to apply a more complex signal processing in light measurements to make it easier to identify the sunrise and sunset times.

The project has the following achievements:

  • SGPS Paper: In this paper the current idea for the SGPS system is detailed. Although it is focused on underwater near-surface light intensity sensors, the idea is also applicable for sensors places anywhere on the Earth, by Javier V. Gómez (JotauVe), Frode Eika Sandnes and Borja Fernández.
  • SGPS Talk: Talk given by Javier V. Gómez (JotauVe) in the Open Source Hardware Convention 2011 (OSHWCON2011), held in Madrid (in spanish, subtitling pending).
  • Main idea: An Energy Efficient Localization Strategy for Outdoor Objects based on Intelligent Light Intensity Sampling, by Frode Eika Sandnes.

In Project Ideas it is possible to see what are we working on right now.

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