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Archive for October, 2017

3 Compromises You Make with Every GPS Tracking Device

Monday, October 30th, 2017

In the 1970’s wildlife biologists didn’t have much choice when it came to GPS tracking devices. They could purchase a VHF transmitter that was either big and heavy or big and heavy. Fast forward almost 50 years. Choices for GPS tracking devices for wildlife biologists are abundant. There are many different technologies that can be used and within each of those technologies there are lots of combinations of technology to choose from. On top of that you still have the many manufacturers to choose from, all of whom have their own way.

But we all still have to live within the bounds of what is physically possible. Your choices each come with a price. You can think of those choices in terms of compromises that you will make. But if you do your research up front you’ll stand a good chance of getting a product that really suits your need.

The big three choices still revolve around 1) total product weight, 2) overall battery life and 3) performance. I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know here. Battery size affects total weight. Battery life is tied into the battery size. The performance you expect (number of GPS per day/data download range, etc) is usually within your power to control so that’s another choice.

I feel for the biologist tasked with determining which product is best for her wildlife tracking project. You may become very frustrated with all of the choices and nuances within each product line. On top of that you need to compare products from different manufacturers. And you probably don’t have sufficient time to devote to this task because you’re already doing the work of 2 or 3 people. Just remember, the big three compromises are still with us. Take everything you learn with a grain of salt because it is within your power to decide which compromise you are going to make to get to the correct product for your project.

How a New Wildlife GPS Product is Born

Friday, October 13th, 2017

Wildlife Conservation and Capitalism

Products and services only exist if a market exists, a pretty simple concept. For us new product development centers around this notion, someone has to want the product. Months ago I spoke with a group of biologists about our products and within minutes we knew we didn’t have a match. Our new wildlife GPS tracking devices did not suit their research needs. But we dug deeper, we kept talking and I learned the client’s true purpose as well as the challenges they faced.

Automatic wildlife GPS data collection at low cost

I learned that they had to have GPS. Transmitters were not going to achieve their goal. And they needed an automated wildlife tracking system. They did not have sufficient human resources to go into the field and collect the GPS data. They were not working with endangered species. There was no invasive species in the picture. No animal to human disease transmission. But they did have to figure out the answer to a problem having to do with human/wildlife conflict. The conflict was real and human lives were being put at risk.

The bottom line was that they required a lot of wildlife GPS. Transmitters, again, were not sufficient but GPS were too expensive. They needed a low cost GPS for wildlife research. I decided to be blunt and ask them how much they could afford. I wasn’t trying to be coy or sly, I was trying to find a solution. When they thought about the problem for a minute they had their answer. As it turns out we were able to find a way to solve their issue at a price they could afford.

Solve the pain and make the sale

I was flying home, thinking about what had transpired, I realized there were more biologists who could use a low cost wildlife GPS tracking device. But it had to fit their needs, maybe it had to be a custom wildlife GPS device but also at low cost. When I got home I called an old customer to ask what he thought of the idea. As it turns out he had a need for a tiny GPS for bats. So we kicked that around for a few weeks and a new product was born from just two conversations.

It is a GPS data logger with long range transceiver and a fully automated data collection system. We kept the price down and added several features that might prove useful. If a motion activated GPS for wildlife tracking needs to be part of this equation it isn’t a problem. If the client needs the GPS to record activity data then we can do that. We built it to suit a lot of different wildlife needs but at a very good price.

Capitalism may have its faults but for us, this is how new products come to market.