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Challenge Seeks Smartphone GPS Jamming Detector

GPS satellite (


A new challenge on InnoCentive asks for a method of detecting GPS signal jamming devices using smartphones. The competiton (free registration required) has an award of $20,000 and a deadline of 3 January 2013. InnoCentive in Waltham, Massachusetts conducts open-innovation, crowd-sourcing competitions for corporate and organization sponsors.

Global Positioning System (GPS) signals can be drowned out by competing noise sent on the same frequency, and as a result, can be dangerous for navigation systems on ambulances or busses dependent on GPS, as well as causing untold inconvenience for drivers with GPS units in their cars or trucks. Jamming GPS signals is illegal in many jurisdictions, and GPS jamming devices are illegal in the U.S.

Despite education campaigns and enforcement actions by the Federal Communications Commission, GPS jamming is technically a simple task, and jamming devices remain relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain; in some cases they are sold openly. Detecting the presence of these devices has so far required a large number of sometimes expensive sensors, to cover the same area as a cheap jamming device.

The sponsor of this challenge, not disclosed by InnoCentive, seeks a solution to this problem that can be implemented with one or more smartphones and described in a written proposal. InnoCentive says the sponsor is particularly interested in robust and scalable solutions that can detect the location of a GPS jammer with hardware, software, or a combination of the two. If a smartphone software app is proposed, the proposal needs to explain why smartphone owners would be motivated to use the proposed app.

Written proposals submitted by entrants in the competition will be reviewed by the sponsor. Competition winners will be asked to transfer a non-exclusive intellectual property license to the sponsor to practice the submitted solution. InnoCentive says the sponsor may be interested in engaging entrants in follow-on work for the design of a prototype.

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