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Archive for the 'New Development' Category

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.

Can customers direct R&D?

Monday, July 30th, 2012

I have been selling GPS collars for almost 20 years and the time finally came that I turn it over to someone else.  We have a very competent young guy from San Jose CA.  He is enthusiastic and unlike me he chooses to keep information in a computer rather than in his head.  But he knows how to find what he needs.  He even incorporates technology into the sales process.  I used to just talk to people on the phone during a sales consultation.

Tiny GPS with remote download

Wildlife GPS collar, 27 grams including remote download

When he took over the sales from me he took inquiries at face value.  For example, ‘Can we buy a GPS that records a position every 2 seconds, weighs 5 grams and lasts for 1 year?”  Oh, toss solar power on there too while you are at it.  Solar, the solution to everything……not.  I quickly explained to him that he needs to concentrate on the most realistic inquiries.  But he wants to please everyone so he kept pushing me for things we cannot do.

I exaggerate slightly, we like to get inquiries that push the boundaries a bit.  Every few months or so we build a GPS for an application never before tried.  One example was when a snake guy called looking for a python GPS for The Everglades.  I think he has two or three of those now and they do acquire GPS positions even though they are implants.

Our sales person, Anthony, knows that our lightest GPS collar is 31 grams.  But Friday he got off of a call and then came to me requesting a 27 grams GPS collar.  I love his timing too, he normally waits until my hand is on the door knob to go to lunch or something when he starts a major conversation.  I explained to him that we cannot make a GPS collar at 27 grams.  We can make 3 or 4 gram GPS glue on devices but to satisfy the need at hand we would have to build a collar and that weighs 31 grams.  But then I started thinking about it.  I thought I had a way so I told him to call that customer back and suggest that we have an idea.  Today I built it at 24 grams.  Not too bad cutting 7 grams off of a previous best of 31 grams.    For sales purposes I think we will advertise 27 grams, better to deliver more than we promise than the other way around.  The GPS includes remote UHF download capability, is fully user programmable, can have the activity data option enabled as well as the Smart GPS feature without adding weight.

If that customer had not stressed her need for a 27 gram collar I would not have spent my day today working on this project, there certainly is not a shortage of tasks to complete on any given day.  We suspect more weight will be shaved from this device in the coming days.  No compromise in package integrity was made, we just treated took extra time to really watch every little thing we did to the unit.  If you are interested in this or any other product please contact our sales department and remember that just because you did not see it on the website that does not mean that you cannot have it.

Quintin

 

GPS collars in Mongolia sending GPS data via satellite to www

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

In anticipation of the release of our latest GPS collar we have sent two collars to researchers working with bears in Mongolia.  The question was whether or not the collars could transmit GPS data via satellite from that location.  There is no reason to believe that they would not but the proof is in the pudding.  So we programmed the collars to transmit new GPS positions from memory every 8 hours.  The data modem that we are using is made by Iridium and uses their low orbit satellite constellation to transmit information.  The product is deployed for tests only at this time, released for sale after completion of our field tests.

Quintin

Wildlife tracking – new developments at Telemetry Solutions

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Satellite communication in our GPS collars, improved connectivity in our UHF wireless communication collars, an automatic remote data download system for any animal no matter the size, camouflaged collars, neutrally buoyant GPS data loggers for penguins, a GPS data logger under 4 grams total weight, tiny solar powered GPS pods with remote download, simplified user controls for triggering remote download by UHF….now it’s just one click, and a solar GPS eartag with remote download in development for grizzly bears and the list goes on.   These are all things that we have been working on for the past few months. While that information in and of itself may not be interesting enough to put into a blog, we think that these technologies will be greatly beneficial to anyone who uses GPS data loggers in their wildlife conservation work.  There is no rest for the wicked though, we have more slated for release before Christmas.

Catch us at The First Annual Seabird Conference in Victoria in September and at The Wildlife Society Conference in Snowbird in October.

Quintin

The future of wildlife telemetry.

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

From the manufacturing end of things wildlife telemetry has certainly gotten more interesting in the last few years.  When I started in this industry in 1979 it was just a question of how big your transmitter was going to be.  Then in the 80’s along came GPS.  Our friends in The Great White North broke that market open and slowly during the 90’s others jumped on that bandwagon.  Telemetry Solutions jumped on in 2006 with our own GPS wildlife tracking design. That was interesting for us but in 2007 it really started to get interesting when we developed a GPS unit that only weighed 15 grams.  But that’s just the electronic weight, with the battery it was over 25 grams.  Still exciting though, at least in 2007.

Then in 2008 a wildlife biologist from The U.S. Forest Service presented himself in our office asking for even smaller GPS collars.  I’ve told this story here before.  He asked to take a unit back to The Sierras to prove to his boss that the technology would work and he also asked us to reduce the product size and weight and add remote download.  He left, we exchanged a few emails and yada, yada, yada we came up with a product that would work for him.   So the answer to the question “Where is this all headed?” is this, -Wherever you tell us to head it!  You, the customers, are in the driver’s seat.

A few months later we got a call asking for GPS for quail.  The young guy on the phone asked his question and before I could answer he said, “I know, it’s going to be 3 more years right?”  I replied, “No, actually we can do that now.”  But I didn’t just pull one off the shelf, we had to put some effort into it.  Last week a bird biologist told me that our 5.9 gram GPS was “too heavy.”  Hello Betty!  I think I’ve blogged about this before too, I heard it at a conference once.  “Ok, what will it take?” I asked.  His reply – 4 grams!  This includes battery weight friends.

After we hung up, I waited for everyone to leave the office and sat here with the electronics on my desk, just staring at it wondering how we can reduce the weight.  It’s mostly battery, the GPS board only weighs 2.4 grams.  I used to ride motorcycles with a guy who would buy expensive carbon fiber parts to cut a few ounces off his Ducati.  He needed to lose 15 pounds himself but that would be too easy, so he bought carbon fiber instead.  But it’s that motorcycle racing mentality that I needed to be in so I sat down at a work bench and started in.  In 5 minutes I had cut .2 grams.  Not bad eh?  Then I cut another .3, that took a little longer.  Our engineers worked on it some more the next day and we’re at 4.2 grams right now so there’s only .2 left to go to get to that magical 4 gram number.

Bird GPS under 7 grams with automatic data download to your PC exists now because someone emailed me and asked for it.

I have a friend with a masters degree in psychology who likes to tell his friends that certain feelings, thoughts, behaviors, etc are “on them.”  Well now I’m telling you that whatever direction that wildlife telemetry is headed is on you.  So take 5 minutes and write an email, better yet, pick up the phone and tell us where you want this to go.

And check us out on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/TelemetrySolutions

Quintin