Beyond pinpointing a geographic location, the Global Positioning System offers another key function that's found in nearly every corner of modern industry and consumer technology — time. GPS systems are used primarily for timing, in order to compute physical positions. And GPS can be found in everyday transactions and devices including ATMs and smartphones.
Now an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense is working on more precise timing that could give the military advantages in geographic positioning, navigation and timing for longer stretches. The research could also have a big impact on many industries including more precise, time-authenticated financial transactions like those used in high-frequency trading.
Beyond military applications, competition and shifting requirements are driving more companies to seek highly precise, time-stamped and sequenced transactions.
"How do you prove, when you pushed 'buy'?" said Robert Lutwak, a program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA.