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 Magnetic sensor could allow pigeon-style GPS

This story is from the category Sensors
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Date posted: 04/10/2007

A new type of sensor developed by scientists in the US could make it possible for humans to use a 'magnetic sense' to navigate on long journeys.

The sensor developed by researchers at Virginia Tech University, US, exploits a property called the 'giant magnetoelectric effect', where a material changes its electrical properties under the influence of a magnetic field.

The core of the sensor is made from layers of lead zirconium titanate, which has the largest magnetoelectric effect of any material. This means it can detect the tiny variations in field strength and angle needed for magnetic GPS.

Although less accurate than satellite GPS, the new sensor's use of the magnetic field means it is more reliable in certain situations. For example, in remote areas that have no satellite reception, or in bad weather conditions where the connection is temporarily lost.

What is required really, is a GPS that can switch from one system to the other, when required. Or which monitors both, continuously, returning the more accurate signal at any given time.

See the full Story via external site: technology.newscientist.com

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