Factors to Consider When Developing a GPS-Enabled Device

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The demand for Global Positioning System (GPS)-enabled devices, whether for civilian, military, or automotive applications, is greater than ever before. GPS technologies are an integral part of everyday life. Tourists use it to find their way to points of interest, pilots use it to navigate the skies, and mobile game developers use it to enhance user experience.

If you are a developer or product engineer, you may be considering integrating GPS technologies into your product. When developing a GPS-enabled device, you need to consider several factors.

How Long It Takes for Your Device to Get a Signal

Modern consumers are notoriously impatient. One of the first things they’ll notice when they use your device is how long it takes before they can get a signal from a satellite. Your device should be able to quickly capture a signal as well as have the ability to lock onto that signal. If your device gets disconnected, it should also be able to reconnect in a short amount of time.

How Accurate Your Device Is

To be considered a good GPS product, your device should be accurate whether the user is stationary or moving. It needs to be able to do its job whether the user is on a boat, walking down a side street, roaming an underground cave, or flying across state lines.

Keep in mind that the average consumer using your device does not have a complete understanding of how it works. Even if something else is disrupting the signal, they will likely still blame your product.

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How Well It Works in a Variety of Environments

Users may take their GPS-enabled devices with them overseas where the signal environment is different, indoors where the signal is weak, or to places near radio towers where interference is strong. Interference can affect how your device functions and negatively impact your customers’ view of your product.

Developers need to take into account that their GPS-enabled devices might be used anywhere it’s possible to take them. However, replicating all possible environments in the “real world” is impractical and prohibitively costly. Simulating test environments is a far more cost-effective way to determine whether a GPS-enabled device is ready to be made available to consumers.

Testing Your GPS-Enabled Device

Before a GPS-enabled device is put on the market, it needs to undergo thorough testing in all scenarios that are likely to occur. Apart from guaranteeing performance, testing can help shorten development times and cut costs. It also gives developers insight into the true user experience, allowing them to make improvements as necessary.

A GPS simulator emits the same type of radio signal that satellites do. To test a device using it, parameters would first need to be set up using the control software. During this stage, you create the scenario or environment you want to test for. To replicate real-world situations, you combine parameters such as date/time, multi-path conditions, receiver position, and atmospheric conditions via models.

The second part of a simulator test is the run-time. This is the stage where you observe your receiver, make adjustments to parameters as necessary, and record your observations. Data gathered from the run-time stage will provide you with information that will be useful for the development or improvement of your product.

Testing your GPS-enabled device in a variety of scenarios is made possible with the use of a simulator. With this technology, you can help ensure your product’s accuracy in a wide range of conditions even before you make it available to end-users.

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