Israeli military has designed what’s probably the smallest gyroscope to date, as small as a grain of rice. What makes this special is that they’re sensitive enough to track your position without a GPS signal – given they know where you started.
It is the same technology used in planes and boats where your physical changes are compared to each other, calculating a new position without the need for an external reference point. So it is like dead reckoning at a much smaller scale that can fit into your smartphone. This opens up a whole new wave of possibilities such as indoor navigation where GPS signals are weak or non-existant. Maybe soon enough you can send your precise location to a friend in a dark movie theater who you’ve been saving a seat for; so you don’t have to wave your bright screen at him…
At the core of the new device are extremely small semi-conductor lasers. As the devices start to rotate, the properties of the light produced by the lasers changes, including the light’s intensity and wavelength. Rotation rates can be determined by measuring these differences.
These lasers are a few tens-of-micrometers in diameter, as compared to the conventional gyroscope, which measures about 6 to 8 inches, says Prof. Scheuer. The device itself, when finished, will look like a small computer chip. Measuring a millimeter by a millimeter (0.04 inches by 0.04 inches), about the size of a grain of sand, the device can be built onto a larger chip that also contains other necessary electronics.