On the fast track to a killer tracking application with u-track

22nd November 2018
Source: u-blox
Posted By : Anna Flockett
On the fast track to a killer tracking application with u-track

In just 15 minutes your new u-track can be set up and will be able to save you weeks of development time, so that you can build low power tracking solutions for consumer and industrial applications on a rock‑solid foundation.Tracking devices featuring satellite positioning and wireless communication are already one of the IoT’s biggest commercial success stories. 

Asset trackers, pet trackers, fitness trackers, vehicle trackers, industrial trolley trackers, hospital patient trackers, lone worker trackers – and the list goes on – already target consumers of all stripes and every conceivable industry vertical. And projected numbers of units sold and of use cases served all point in the same direction - up. A 2017 report by Future Market Insights estimates the GPS tracker market to grow at a CAGR of 8.4% in the decade leading up to 2027, to reach close to $3.5bn.

But to successfully tap into that market, trackers need to be perfectly tailored to the needs of their target users. Requirements in terms of positioning rate and accuracy, data storage, and transfer to the cloud need to be balanced with increasingly ambitious expectations in terms of size, cost, and battery life. Hitting that sweet spot takes a deep understanding of the technology options for GNSS positioning and wireless connectivity and the optimal parameter settings for each use case as well as expert knowhow on how to get the most out of the technology. With so many decisions to be made, it’s easy to waste precious weeks and still end up with a sub‑optimal solution.

That’s why u-blox developed u‑track, a new software toolset that lets you replicate the low power tracking application you have in mind for consumer and industrial markets in only a fraction of the time you’d need using traditional evaluation tools. In only 15 minutes, u‑track lets you test device configurations and gain valuable hand‑on experience that ultimately translate into a tracking solution that your customers will love.

Let’s say you’re developing a sports tracker. Your target audience, runners, swimmers, and other athletes, will value a quick position fix so that they don’t have to wait around in the rain for a GNSS fix just to track their activity. They’ll expect a high position update rate and won’t want to be let down by a flat battery during their outing. And they will want to be able to store a number of tracks on their device. Of course the exact demands will depend on the activities you are targeting. A tracker targeting golf players might not use the same settings as one targeting hikers.

To develop the optimal solution, you as a developer will want a suite of testing options, including data logs, debug messages, and the ability to rerun the scenarios using a variety of device configurations. The possibility to choose from a selection of GNSS operation modes will help you find just the right settings your target group. You’ll need live data visualisation for demoing. And advanced testing options to assess the performance of on- or offline assisted GNSS, or of our low‑power Super‑E positioning mode, and the receiver’s behaviour in the event of a hot, warm, or cold start.

But what if you are developing an asset tracker? For one, your target audience will hardly be interested in a tracker with less than two‑month battery life. They’ll expect a position update accurate to at least 100m in less than one minute after pinging the device. And they’ll expect their tracker to perform wherever they deploy it, without having to worry out which specific cellular technologies are deployed there.

You as a developer will need tools to test your tracker design in a variety of configurations. What does its power profile look like when it sends data to the cloud over LTE‑M or NB‑IoT networks? How does PSM impact power consumption?  

The u‑track gives you a simple way to answer these and many other questions. It is made up of embedded code running on a C030‑R410M application board featuring an u‑blox ZOE‑M8B multi‑constellation GNSS module and an u‑blox SARA‑R4 LTE‑M and NB‑IoT module, as well as a PC software application. Quick to set up and easy to use, its pre‑configured settings for sports, people, and asset tracking accelerate time‑to‑market and reduce development complexity for new low power tracker development.

If this has caught your interest, don’t hesitate to get in touch with u-blox here.

This blog was written by Florian Bousquet, Market Development Manager, Product Centre Positioning, u‑blox, and was courtesy of u-blox.

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