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How You Funded Some of the World's Greatest Technologies, Including Fruit Ninja

By Jordan Robertson - 2014-04-01T16:13:22Z

Photograph by Chandler Chou

Company Symbol % Change
Alphabet Inc GOOG:US -3.45
Apple Inc AAPL:US -2.67
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Consumers today tap into the space-based Global Positioning System in their cars or on mobile devices for getting directions to the nearest gas station or Starbucks. But GPS's DARPA-funded origins had far more serious missions in mind, such as monitoring Russian space satellites during the Cold War.

Now, DARPA is funding projects that could lead to the replacement of GPS in crucial situations when the system's signals are vulnerable to being blocked or hacked. Called Micro-PNT (Micro-Technology for Positioning, Navigation and Timing), the service uses internal clocks, gyroscopes and accelerometers instead of GPS satellites as a way to provide precision navigation for munitions.

And down the road, it could help you pinpoint that espresso stand inside the mall.

Related: Atop the Electronics World, Samsung Now Chasing Innovation