A Replacement for GPS?
Global Positioning System, or "GPS," had made a trillion-dollar impact on the world. But the technology behind it is outdated. It’s not accurate or secure enough for today’s needs or tomorrow’s ambitions. An alternative is critical.
Xairos Systems is creating an alternative to GPS that’s more reliable, more secure, and more accurate.
This company’s solution is 1,000x more accurate than GPS and offers improved performance and better security. Since building a proof-of-concept of its technology, Xairos has been issued multiple patents, and received funding from professional investors like Techstars and Spaced Ventures. Now it’s scheduled to introduce its technology to the world in 2024.
Perhaps surprisingly, GPS isn’t really about maps or positions. It’s about time.
The precise measurement of time is as the heart of every GPS receiver. The distances between satellite and receiver are determined by measuring transit times of satellites signals. And it’s this time that is used to calculate position.
In the U.S. alone, there are 900 million GPS receivers. They’re used in industries ranging from finance to agriculture to transportation to emergency services. And this reliance has turned GPS into a very valuable service.
But GPS isn’t always accurate. Devices need to receive strong signals from multiple satellites in order to get a reading, which isn’t always possible. Furthermore, GPS is alarmingly susceptible to foul play. For example, GPS signals can be jammed or “spoofed” — a term for when someone uses a transmitter to send a counterfeit signal to a receiver.
A modern alternative is so desired that the U.S. government has added it to its agenda. In fact, a U.S. Department of Transportation report from 2001 detailed the need for a better navigation system. And that’s exactly what Xairos has created.
The company’s technology is referred to as Quantum Clock Synchronization or QCS, for short. Here’s how it works:
Essentially, this technology offers time-transfer using singular quantum signals — think of these signals as invisible lasers. In normal optical communications, a laser is pulsed to send data signals in the form of a series of “0s” and “1s.” And these signals are called digital streams.
But in quantum communications, the power of this laser is turned down to create a stream of individual particles of light known as photons. Xairos converts these individual photons into pairs that are “entangled,” meaning their properties are correlated beyond what’s possible in classical physics.
Xairos uses these entangled photos to synchronize two distant clocks, creating an accurate, reliable alternative to GPS.
Additionally, QCS exploits a quantum property known as the no-cloning theorem. Essentially, this states that it’s impossible to create an independent, identical copy of an arbitrary unknown quantum state. With respect to Xairos, it means an adversary can’t receive a quantum signal and retransmit or block it.
Notably, Xairos’ technology has the potential to support several fast-growing trends. These include 6G communications, data centers, and self-driving cars.
To generate revenue, Xairos will sell subscriptions to access its QCS. The company is pre-revenue, but has pilot projects for its initial system deployment, and aims to commercialize its technology next year.
David has three decades of experience in the space, business, and optical-communications sectors. In addition to his role with Xairos, he’s an advisor with TFWireless, a technology startup spun off from NASA focused on wireless-communication technology.
Previously, he was Chief Operations Officer with SpeQtral, an aerospace company developing quantum systems. Before that, he was the first employee at BridgeSat, a startup offering commercial space-based optical-communications systems.
Earlier in his career, David worked with Space Systems Loral, a company that designs and manufactures spacecraft for services including broadband internet, mobile communications, and Earth observation. He initially served as a design engineer before leaving to spend thirteen years as an engineer with Orbital Sciences Corporation, a space-manufacturing company. He then returned to Space Systems to serve as its Director of Marketing and Sales, and later its Vice President of Business Development.
David began his career as a vehicle engineer with Hughes Space and Communications, a company providing broadband-satellite services. He earned a Bachelor's degree in Aeronautical Engineering from California Polytechnic State University, a Master's degree in Aerospace and Astronautical Engineering from Stanford, and an MBA from MIT.
James is the inventor of the quantum clock synchronization protocol. He’s authored key papers on this protocol, including "Secure Quantum Clock Synchronization" and "Symmetrical clock synchronization with time-correlated photon pairs." He also developed Xairos' exclusive patents and IP holdings.
A longtime physicist, he began his career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, before joining the Naval Surface Warfare Center, a division tasked with developing warfare systems for the military. He then became Science Director at the Office of Naval Research, specializing in quantum science and technology.
More recently, James was a research associate at Applied Research Laboratories at the University of Texas at Austin. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Physics from the University of New Orleans, a Master's degree in Physics from Tulane University, and a Ph.D. in Computational Science from Chapman University.
Prominent accelerator for tech companies. Investments include Uber, ClassPass and Twilio.