SiRF and Skyhook link GPS, Wi-Fi

Skyhook Wireless, a Wi-Fi location-based services startup, has gotten the majority of its headlines due to its cutesy Loki browser plug-in, which adds loction to search and other web services. But the company has a whole lot of plans that have nothing to do with the web. The most interesting are for locating handheld and mobile devices, and on Thursday the company plans to announce that GPS chip and software company SiRF will license its technology to offer a dual GPS/Wi-Fi location based system for phones.

Skyhook CEO Ted Morgan said Wi-Fi can help GPS in locating a device in problem areas, like dense urban environments or indoors. Wi-Fi can also help GPS devices when they are trying to get a first location fix, which can sometimes take quite a bit of time to ‘warm up’ using GPS — Wi-Fi can be much quicker, says Morgan. Morgan will be demoing the new location offering at 3GSM next week, so if you’re interested go check it out and tell us how well it worked. (We’re skipping the Barcelona bash this year.)

The Boston-based company, founded in 2003, has raised at least $8.5 million from investors like Bain Capital Ventures and Intel Capital. The SiRF deal is the startup’s latest mobile partnership, following one announced at CES where Skyhook says it teamed up with Korean company ReignCom (which is behind the iriver brand), to include Skyhook’s Wi-Fi LBS technology in its iriver W10 portable media player.

All types of Wi-Fi enabled devices could benefit from the Wi-Fi LBS add, though, we’ll see how interested mobile manufacturers are in the dual GPS/Wi-Fi SiRF deal. The company will try to get those design wins this year, and hopefully land on products after that.