There’s no technical or economical reason why top-end fitness trackers from the likes of Fitbit and Jawbone shouldn’t be packing GPS connectivity. That’s the message from Brandon Oakes, sales manager at OriginGPS.
Oakes explained that installing one of Origin’s tiny GPS modules would come at a cost of “single digit dollars”.
Wareable guide: Best fitness trackers you can buy
“I spent six years working at Garmin as a design engineer so I understand that, on the low-end, adding a few dollars of cost is a big deal and I don’t want to dismiss that but on the high-end products, in my opinion, there’s no excuse not to have it integrated today,” he told us.
“I use the Fitbit devices and the trackers that estimate distance and, as a runner, it’s just not suitable,” he added.
“It could be that they feel that there’s a percentage of the market who, for Fitbit trackers, are more interested in seeing 10,000 steps than knowing how far they’ve gone and, fair enough, serve that market but our message is certainly that there’s no technical reason, or economical reason, why it can’t be integrated – even from a size perspective.”
We have already seen some high profile wearables feature built-in GPS, such as the Garmin sports watches and the Sony SmartWatch 3, as well as hybrid sports trackers like the Polar M400 and the Garmin Vivoactive. But it’s a feature missing from the fitness tracker form factor – so far only Microsoft has included GPS on its Bands.
The obvious reasons for the missing ingredient are size constraints and concerns over battery life, but that could all be set to change.
We spoke to Oakes, following the launch of the OriginGPS’s revolutionary Multi Micro Spider; a 5.6 mm x 5.6 mm module boasting the world’s smallest footprint within a fully integrated multi-GNSS module.
The Israeli company specialises in miniaturised GNSS modules and has already worked with the likes of OMGLife – the people behind the Autographer – to integrate modules into consumer technology. But there are bigger plans to extend to more mainstream products.
“Some of the biggest products that we’re working on right now are in development and have not yet been publicly released,” said Oakes. “I’m excited about where Origin is going. Between wearables and drones, there’s going to be a lot of announcements this year.”