Introduction to the Tracking Industry
Location tracking and GPS systems have known intense growth and use by millions of people all over the globe thanks to the integration of appropriate software and hardware in modern smartphones. As such, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the tracking industry as a whole has been flourishing for the past years.
From personal GPS tracking to shipment tracking, it wouldn’t be an understatement to admit that tracking solutions have and will be playing an important role in stimulating economic and social activity all around the world, in a variety of industries and every day social engagements. Just think about the last time you used Google/Apple maps or used courier delivery services.
The purpose of this article is to take a look into some important aspects of the tracking industry and introduce you to its recent state, with its currently already applied as well as developing technologies and solutions from a consumer’s perspective.
What are considered to be the most prevalent tracking methods currently accessible for everyone and what are their specific characteristics?
GPS Tracking: The industry leader
The history of heavy tracking dates to the beginning of GPS technology in the ’70s.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based radionavigation system owned by the United States government and operated by the United States Air Force.
It is a global navigation satellite system that provides geolocation and time information to a GPS receiver anywhere on or near the Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites.
The GPS does not require the user to transmit any data and it operates independently of any telephonic or internet reception, though these technologies can enhance the usefulness of the GPS positioning information. It provides critical positioning capabilities to military, civil and commercial users around the world. The United States government created the system, maintains it and makes it freely accessible to anyone with a GPS receiver.
In its early years the technology was not yet fully operational due to an insufficient number of satellites orbiting the earth. In the ’90s, after years of gradual growth, the GPS system was considered fully operational and reached its state we currently use. Even though it started as a military project, much like the internet, it came to be widely used by civilians and the general public.
GPS tracking is used widely as the best solution for providing tracking surveillance for goods and people alike. Its main advantages include:
· Well supported industry with perfectly maintained technology (satellites, availability etc.)
· A flourishing industry full of research, innovation and tool optimization
· Extremely accurate, real time tracking
· Availability to all consumers, producers, intermediaries through hardware and software
Especially when it comes to using GPS tracking devices to support daily activities (e.g. shipments, fleet and/or vehicle tracking, asset tracking etc.), GPS technology has been plagued by specific inconveniences to the daily user, mostly having to do with:
· High costs (expensive devices, subscription models)
· Battery life (GPS is very energy consuming)
· In most cases even size issues
Even though GPS trackers have evolved to account for more efficiency in every aspect, consumers would always strive for better bargains according to their needs. The rise of the Bluetooth tracking industry came as a reaction to this trending need of tracking personalization, which is to be able to keep an eye on your things on a daily basis for the minimum cost possible.
Bluetooth Tracking: The Runner-up
Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances (using short-wavelength UHF radio waves in the ISM band from 2.4 to 2.485 GHz from fixed and mobile devices, and building personal area networks (PANs).
Most users came to know Bluetooth from its aggressive integration to mobile phones (then smartphones), which mostly substituted inconvenient infrared technology with extremely low range.
As mentioned in the Bluetooth Market Update of 2018, this year alone 3.9 billion devices will be shipped with Bluetooth technology on board, of which 2.05 billion will be smartphones, tablets and laptops. Bluetooth aims for 12% annual growth over 10 years starting 2013 until 2022.
In its initial releases, Bluetooth was mainly used for wireless control and communication between a mobile phone and a handsfree headset, but after many improvements, mostly with the release of Bluetooth 4.0 (Low Energy) in 2010, it dominated the market and became a staple for wireless communication among a plethora of smart devices, paving the way for the Internet of Things.
A Bluetooth tracker is a lightweight and small device, powered by a button cell battery. The tracker is connected to the user’s smartphone via Bluetooth and can be attached to your keys, dog, bike or any other valuable item, pet or person, keeping track of where is located as long as it is within the range of Bluetooth coverage. Bluetooth trackers are usually considered superior to GPS trackers in terms of:
· Affordability (fixed cost at purchase, no subscription fees)
· Smaller size and weight
· Superior battery life
A newly introduced feature with significant impact in the industry is crowd tracking technology. By “tagging” a missing item in the native application, you request from the established network community to help you retrieve it.
Most Bluetooth trackers in the market support some form of crowd tracking technology right now, leveraging the power of the crowd in order to secure participants’ valuables. As a commonly used feature, it has become a staple among Bluetooth tracking enthusiasts. However, in the market’s current state, it is severely limited and under-utilized due to the existence of many different locked networks which, as a result, diminishes its true potential and efficiency.
Mytracknet combines its enhanced network concept with its own crowd tracking technology called “PoP”, short for “Power of People”. This way we enable each individual through community powered leverage, significantly assisting the retrieval process.
Mytracknet will provide the required data (last known location, picture of missing asset, etc.) to nearby users asking for assistance, thus enabling the PoP feature.
With the introduction of Bluetooth 5 technology as a standard in most newly sold devices, there’s even more advantages in using Bluetooth trackers, when compared to the older release:
· Even further reduced battery drainage (averaging 1–2% battery on 24/7 usage)
· Up to 4x the range of Bluetooth 4 (up to 200m/800ft)
· Up to twice as fast and a much higher transmission power of +20db in low energy mode
· Up to 8x Increased broadcast data efficiency making it possible to connect to more devices
However, when compared to GPS tracking, Bluetooth still falters in:
· Network range (no satellites)
· Small fragmented networks due to manufacturer competition
Mytracknet is being developed to tackle both problems from the ground up. It is not a mere software supplement to a gadget, nor does it want to exclude users of receiving value. Much like the GPS network is maintained through the same satellite network core, we aim to give consumers an application that will unite all Bluetooth hardware tracking solutions and integrate them to one massive global network consisting of trackers, smartphones and other smart devices.
LoRa Network: The Potential Alternative
“LoRa (short for long range) devices and wireless radio frequency technology (LoRa Technology) is a long range, low power wireless platform that has become the de facto technology for Internet of Things (IoT) networks worldwide.
LoRa Technology enables smart IoT applications that solve some of the biggest challenges facing our planet: energy management, natural resource reduction, pollution control, infrastructure efficiency, disaster prevention and more. With over 50 million devices connected to networks in 95 countries and growing, LoRa Technology is the DNA of IoT, creating a Smarter Planet.”
LoRa is one of those propitious technologies that emerged with the recent Internet of Things case and is looking to take the wireless industry by storm.
LoRaWAN uses the Lora protocol layer, the open source and secure protocol for IoT applications. It is designed to allow low-powered devices to communicate with Internet-connected applications over long range wireless connections. Its main advantages are:
· Low battery consumption
· Extremely long range wireless signaling (15 to 20 km)
· Low-cost setup with LoRaWAN hubs, no subscription fees
Tracking Industry’s Future & Possibilities
Through this article we attempted to take a look in the state of the established tracking industry, with more emphasis on its current solutions from a consumer perspective.
We realized that the open, widespread distribution of GPS technology was a pivotal point that unlocked and enhanced economic activity, leading to its match with recent technological advancements in the high-tech industry that leveraged tracking options world-wide, mainly through the use of smartphones.
The introduction of low energy Bluetooth technology in our handheld devices and its increased adoption rate in more hardware and peripherals, gave birth to the personalized daily tracking experience of consumer valuables in the form of Bluetooth trackers. This booming market, leveraged by public enthusiasm and funding, addressed very real and personal needs, but is plagued by ineffective practices and segmented networks.
Technological breakthroughs and inventions, like LoRa and Bluetooth, need to be further investigated as to the extent of their application in current technology options. Their promise to deliver a scalable, long range, low power wireless platform falls into the spectrum of tech possibilities which may provide a feasible solution to current industry inefficiencies. Problems that applications and tech like Mytracknet’s try to tackle.
Mytracknet pursues to build the next generation in both software and hardware in tracking solutions. Ideally, we are aiming to provide consumers with an open, free application, compatible with an increasing range of smart devices, contributing to the Internet of Things that will encompass tomorrow’s economic and social activity.
Mytracknet’s hardware solution, the next generation Bluetooth tracker, will encompass all the functionalities consumers are expecting from successful models along with many pioneering synergies and advantages that are being currently explored through its development. We are excited to share this trip with our early adopters, tech enthusiasts and investors who we consider as partners in achieving our goals.