Portable electronic devices such as mobile phones, navigation devices, personal organisers, cameras and watches could soon incorporate Qinetiq's award-winning Global Positioning System (GPS) technology.
This possibility follows the signing of an agreement between the UK research firm and C&N, based in Tokyo, Japan.
Under the agreement Qinetiq, which has a large operation at Malvern, and C&N, will optimise Qinetiq's Q20 high-sensitivity GPS technology for the consumer electronics market and develop integrated circuits to support the use of Q20 in location search systems.
Qinetiq's Q20 GPS chip is one thousand times more sensitive than standard GPS devices and enables satellite tracking in extremely low signal environments - including inside buildings.
A new version of the Q20 technology launched last year uses minimal power, an important consideration for portable electronic devices.
Q20 has a variety of applications from high-value asset tracking to security. Qinetia already sells GPS modules to Sepura for use in TETRA hand-portable radios, but the agreement with C&N represents the first foray into the consumer electronics market.
Jim Panter, managng director of Qinetiq's GPS business, said: "Japan is a world-leader in the exploitation of GPS technology for consumer electronics.
"We are delighted to be working with C&N to realise the huge opportunities presented by location-based and navigation services."
C&N pioneered miniature electronic compasses and 3D motion sensors that give high directional accuracy even when used outside of the horizontal plane. The firm is also among the leaders in integrating technologies into mobile telephones and has recently developed software for mobile phones that controls household electronic devices.
C&N's president, Yasuhiro Tamura said: "Qinetiq's Q20 GPS chip has huge potential in the consumer electronics market because it is small, self contained, and acquires signals quickly indoors.
"This agreement will allow us to bring C&N's expertise in the creation of innovative consumer products to the future development of Q20 and to work with Qinetiq to optimise their GPS technology for off-the-shelf electronic devices."