EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Low-cost and smartphone GNSS sensors: current capabilities and perspectives for seismic and tropospheric monitoring applications

Roland Hohensinn, Raphael Stauffer, Iván Darío Herrera Pinzón, Gregor Möller, Matthias Aichinger-Rosenberger, Yara Rossi, Yuanxin Pan, Grzegorz Kłopotek, Benedikt Soja, and Markus Rothacher
Roland Hohensinn et al.
  • Institute of Geodesy and Photogrammetry, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland (

In recent years, dual-frequency GNSS chipsets became available on the mass market. The ongoing developments in sensor and processing technologies steadily improve the positioning performance so that nowadays sub-decimeter accuracies can be achieved with such devices, even in real-time. Thus these sensors become a powerful, inexpensive choice for equipping or densifying existing GNSS monitoring networks. Station densification can be of significant added value for earthquake early warning systems, assimilation of GNSS water vapor estimates into numerical weather prediction models and the detection of severe weather events. Even if somewhat noisier, smartphone data can be used for GNSS-based remote sensing purposes as well.

This contribution is twofold, and focusses on both, the current capabilities and the perspectives of these GNSS low-cost technologies for such remote sensing applications. In the first part we highlight the accuracy of PPP-enabled seismic and tropospheric monitoring using low-cost loggers and stations developed in-house. We show that differential smartphone GNSS observations on short- and medium-length baselines can be used to sense the state of the regional troposphere. In the second part, we present first results on the performance of the u-blox D9S application board, which enables highest precision by PPP-RTK with ambiguity resolution, and the feasibility of high-precision positioning is assessed for long baselines involving smartphone data as well. Finally, we briefly discuss the potential of data-driven methods for mitigating multipath, which is still one of the main error sources when using equipment of low quality. Concerning the GNSS processing, we rely on further-developed versions of open-source and commercial GNSS software packages. Regarding sensor technology, u-blox chips -- which are currently deployed in our self-sufficient GNSS stations -- are used together with different low-cost and medium-grade GNSS antennas (both, patch and recent helical-type low-cost antennas).

We conclude that low-cost GNSS sensor technology is on the way to satisfy the same demands in accuracy as geodetic-grade equipment -- centimeter-level accuracy can be obtained, even in real-time. New possibilities for station densifications arise by employing low-cost, autonomous stations or by crowdsourcing of GNSS data with smartphones. These observations can aid in resolving small-scale structures in the atmosphere, or for a quick detection and localization of geohazards.

How to cite: Hohensinn, R., Stauffer, R., Herrera Pinzón, I. D., Möller, G., Aichinger-Rosenberger, M., Rossi, Y., Pan, Y., Kłopotek, G., Soja, B., and Rothacher, M.: Low-cost and smartphone GNSS sensors: current capabilities and perspectives for seismic and tropospheric monitoring applications, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-9079,, 2022.


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