Designers Release ‘Aweigh’, An Open Source Alternative to GPS

“A team of student designers and engineers from the RCA and Imperial College have designed an open-source alternative to GPS, called Aweigh, that does not rely on satellites,” reports the design magazine Dezeen.

It’s similar to the sextant, calculating positions by measuring the angular distances between the horizon and the sun. ExRex (Slashdot reader #47,177) shares their report: They said that Aweigh can even work on a cloudy day when the sun is not in view, and unlike devices that use satellites, such as smartphones, Aweigh functions offline so a user’s positional data cannot be leaked through the internet.

“Satellites send information which can be intercepted and interfered with, but to interfere with Aweigh, one would need to artificially move the sun,” explained the team of four, made up of States Lee, Samuel Iliffe, Flora Weil and Keren Zhang. “If one of the devices is faulty or broken, it is only that user who suffers. If one satellite is faulty, then the consequences can affect millions of users.

“Most people don’t think about the way they navigate,” the group continued, “but as concerns over centralised technology and data privacy increase, individuals should have a choice over how their data is taken and used. Aweigh is about giving back choice….” Describing the system as “a set of tools and blueprints”, the team wanted users to be able to hack or fix the tools they use, so making the project open-source was important.
There’s a video about the device here. It locates the sun by reading light values with a customized Raspberry Pi board.

Although Slashdot reader RockDoctor asks an interesting question: does it work at night?