Compact designs, larger battery capacity and cost-efficient GPS modules are among the latest trends in GPS watch trackers.
Keen to step out of the shadow of the robust GPS tracker sector, makers of GPS watch trackers are turning to design and feature innovations to buoy up the industry. Unlike in its sister line, demand in the latter category is small as most products are pricier than GPS-enabled mobile phones.
|The WT100 model from Topten supports GPRS and Google Maps.|
Manufacturers are therefore trying to come up with designs that will attract more buyers and eventually boost the segment. Miniaturization is a strong trend, particularly among makers that target sports enthusiasts. With smaller form factors, parts can be minimized, thereby rendering the product less susceptible to damage and enhancing its performance. Streamlined styles likewise match users’ portability and discreetness requirements.
Some suppliers are introducing versions with special functions such as thermometers and altimeters for outdoor applications.
Shenzhen Xexun Technology Co. Ltd, one of the earliest developers of GPS trackers in China, plans to strengthen R&D and sales of watch varieties. The latter currently accounts for 10 percent of output, but this share is expected to rise to 30 percent in coming months. It predicts that the device will be increasingly employed for outdoor monitoring.
The enterprise also provides personal and vehicle types.
Another aspect makers are trying to improve is the battery life of GPS watch trackers. Because of the small battery, capacity and operating time are limited. Topten Electronics Technology Ltd aims to adopt high-capacity alternatives to enhance performance.
Topten has released the WT100 model with two-way communication, speed dial, geofence alert, SOS and power-save mode. It has 512KB internal memory for storing offline GPS data. While the company has no plans of launching more GPS watch trackers in the next six months, it will improve the performance of the current selection, especially in terms of power consumption and water resistance.
Manufacturers are also utilizing GPS modules that offer the best price-to-performance ratio to provide competitive quotes.
As a subcategory of personal trackers, GPS watch trackers can be utilized for monitoring children, the elderly, the disabled and outdoor personnel. They are likewise employed in criminal management.
Users can receive data on target latitude and longitude via SMS and GPRS. Many devices also support two-way communication, SOS and voice monitoring.
Products from China generally belong to the low-end and midrange. Prices are between $70 and $150.
Entry-level versions, ranging from $70 to $90, have SOS buttons and provide two-way talking, geofence and low-power alert, voice monitoring and realtime tracking. GPS information is received through SMS or GPRS. Map locations can be checked using smartphones or computers. Models designed to track children have attractive designs.
Trackers classified as midrange have built-in memory, large battery capacity and overspeeding alert. These are quoted between $91 and $130.
High-end variants exceed $131 and are used in more professional situations such as outdoor sports. The devices are equipped with a thermometer, altimeter and compass, and can endure harsh environments or extreme weather conditions.
GPS watch trackers may also be classified into pure devices and those with other value-added features. The first is usually small and supports GPS tracking and SOS. The second has more functions and parts, and are not designed like a common watch. Although outdoor sports fans favor the more basic version, the last is expected to breach the outdoor monitoring field.
Most GPS watch trackers from China makers are exported under OEM and ODM terms. A few companies, however, are building their own brands to boost product positioning.
Mainland China suppliers purchase GPS chipsets or modules from CSR, u-Blox and MediaTek, but there are other sources of these components in Taiwan, Europe and the US.
Locally, Jiaxing Jiali, Sim Technology and Skylab M&C make GPS modules as well. Alternatives may be procured from SiRF, MediaTek and Atheros.
|Water-resistant model MW-735 GPS tracker from Mainnav has a bike speed display and three-mode calorie counter.|
The GPS watch tracker is a niche segment in Taiwan’s GPS tracker manufacturing industry applied in outdoor sports, travel, and care for children and the elderly. An increasing number of variants are being designed for fitness and training, including jogging, running, biking and ice skating.
Multifunction models such as those with heart rate monitors are priced higher than single-function types.
Value-added features typically enable body training, consisting of bike cadence and heart rate sensors. Many units boast IPX6 or 7 rating for up to 50m underwater, Google Earth and emergency call setup. For the watch function, analog and digital types are available.
Ten to 15 suppliers offer models with an embedded GPS receiver or USB ports to connect to the former. The port can be used for charging or data download as well.
Some versions have Bluetooth function that can double as a data logger, GPS or Bluetooth receiver. Several devices, including Globalsat’s solutions, support GPS reception only and have no tracking. These are categorized as training watches for route tracking and navigation, training history recording, calorie calculation and provision of reference training route.
For emergency purposes, some GPS watch trackers can link to GPS, GSM and GPRS networks. Users can track information on location, time, distance, travel speed and altitude. Remote monitoring is available via GSM and GPRS, and remote control through the latter.
POI functionality allows the person to review their favorite positions. Some high-end models have cell phone functionality that can be employed for emergency assistance and two-way calling.
As regards software, several features are available for monitoring and SOS, specifically realtime and voice monitoring, geotagging, Google Earth and POI loader. Products with the capability also provide position auto report and last-location notification if the watch wearer enters a blind area. Those with photo tagging or geotagging are suitable for travelers. Most devices support the NMEA protocol, which is a common GPS recording format.
The SiRFstarIII is the most widely used GPS chipset. Solutions from MediaTek are a less expensive alternative, while EPO technology is said to shorten GPS coldstart time.
Taiwan-made GPS watch trackers ranging from $42 to $70 typically have data logger, location finder, photo tagger and a Seiko watch solution from Japan. Those with heart rate monitors are $20 higher. Upscale versions are priced between $90 and $120.
Globalsat Technology Co.
Mainnav International Co.
Shenzhen Xexun Technology Co. Ltd
Shenzhen Xexun Technology Co. Ltd
Topten Electronics Technology Ltd
Note: This article "Function enhancements boost slow GPS watch tracker line" was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.