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NEWS ANALYSIS
29-Nov-2011
GPS Enters New Markets
 
 

GPS tracking devices and M2M-connectivity solutions can help you locate your stolen vehicle, your aging parent, your cargo shipment, your teenage son, or your misplaced piece of equipment. Even considering the range and scope of GPS solutions already on the market, new niche markets are realizing the value add and are adding to the demand for innovative GPS technology solutions.

Inexpensive, accessible tracking devices such as the GTU 10 by Garmin, www.garmin.com, are bringing personal tracking into the mainstrean. GTU 10 combines GPS technology with a Web-based tracking service and/or smartphone app for remote tracking of whatever you deem necessary. Other companies, such as PocketFinder, www.pocketfinder.com, offer tracking devices and solutions specifically designed for vehicles, people, and even pets. 

GPS tracking solutions have succeeded in niche vertical markets, too, such as home health and aging in place. Lifecomm, www.lifecomm.com, a subsidiary of Hughes Telematics, www.hughestelematics.com, is launching an accelerometer-based device early next year that will be equipped with GPS technology. Lifecomm’s “MPERS” (mobile personal emergency response system) unit will not only sense when a wearer has fallen, it will send GPS coordinates to first responders so they can reach the scene quickly.

For those who work in remote locations or dangerous environments—such as farmers, construction workers, and utility and service professionals—Sonim, www.sonimtech.com, offers the XP3340 SENTINEL cellphone with built-in GPS and “man down” accelerometer sensor. If the device senses a free-fall, or if an emergency button is pressed, the device will call for help. Built-in GPS will help pinpoint you on a map, and the device will update responders with your coordinates until help arrives. 

This week, u-blox, www.u-blox.com, announced a new partnership with McMurdo, www.mcmurdo.co.uk, a designer and manufacturer of emergency location beacons, that will help grow the market for GPS-enabled safety solutions for marine environments. The companies say u-blox will supply GPS receiver modules for McMurdo’s SafeLink R10 and Smartfind S10 marine safety beacons.

The waterproof, handheld Smartfind S10 and the life-jacket-mounted SafeLink R10 can be activated whenever help is needed, including during man-overboard situations. Both devices provide location information that can be crucial to recovery efforts. 

According to James Turner, product manager for McMurdo, the devices transmit both GPS and AIS (automatic identification system) data to vessels within a four-mile radius. He says the technology greatly increases a person’s chances of being located and retrieved once in the water.

Whereas in the past, GPS was helped us navigate to our doctor’s office or find the nearest gas station, tracking has become a widely adopted and demanded use of the technology as well. By keeping us “on the grid,” the technology can help keep us safe and sound.
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