Adventure is high in demand. Extreme sports are growing. Riders, runners, cyclists, swimmers and other disciplines are pushing the limits further and further to complete events in hostile and remote regions. Entrants, support crew, organisers, sponsors and hosts all have one common interest and concern… safety.
The safety of the athletes remains a top requirement together with the value in sharing progress and event results with support crew, family and fan communities.
These are just some of the reasons for the high demand in adventure GPS tracking solutions and this rapidly developing market sector.
Adventure GPS tracking solutions make it possible for anybody at any location to monitor and follow the progress and location of an adventure rider or athlete. This is made possible by a GPS tracker which is carried by the riders. The GPS tracker transmits the rider location at regular intervals to a central unit on the internet. Through the use of a simple App support crew or fans can then log on and monitor the movements of the rider.
With the market growing and more and more solutions becoming available it is important to have an understanding of the key features of a successful adventure tracking solution.
High quality GPS
This might seem obvious, and yes the 1st step is very often ignored, exactly because it is so obvious. The GPS tracking solutions must have a good, reliable and accurate GPS receiver. A good quality GPS receiver means the GPS position can be identified even in deep valleys with some restrictions to horizon views and the location can be obtained quickly to minimise battery power use and to maximise event reporting accuracy. Further-more the location must be accurate, typically less than 1m for adventure events.
GPS tracking solutions include a communication link from the GPS tracking unit back to the Internet to report the rider location. Without this communication link it will not be possible to follow the rider location on the Internet or via the user app. In general tracking solutions use either the cellular data connections or satellite data channels. The advantage of cellular data links is that the cost of data is much, much more affordable while the disadvantage is that in some very extreme location the signal coverage of cellular networks are limited.
For any electronic solution battery power is everything. Without battery power nothing can work and this is no different for adventure GPS tracking solutions. It is important that the electronics and end-to-end system are designed and developed specifically to minimise power usage and to extend the operational time of the device. An important aspect to consider is that the tempo or cycle of position reporting must be set to an optimum in order to provide regular location updates while at the same time do not sent excessive data transmissions which will deplete the battery quickly.
Each specific GPS tracking solution does require a specific set of user features. The following is an overview of the most popular features and the related use cases:
- Panic Button: personal trackers should have an easily accessible panic alert button for emergency use and which is set-up in such a way to prevent accidental trigger or false alarms.
- Route information: for events which is completed in remote regions it is a very big advantage if the tracking solution makes it possible to import the route information.
- Competitive positioning: Some tracking solutions can be used for fans to follow the race and see which rider is leading etc.
- Ease of use: Functions, features and settings must be very intuitive to use, not only by the support crew or the event spectators, also by the fans remotely over the Internet from any location.
- Privacy: Being able to track the location of riders and athletes can also be used for negative purposes and the solution must be able to safe-guard personal data and protect against malicious intent.
Rugged and Water-resistant Device
Adventure sport is challenging and tough, on the participants, the crew and the organisers. Any GPS tracking solution must use only very rugged and resilient hardware which will not fail in harsh environment. Units should be fully sealed with an option to protect it with extra casings or sleeve. It should be possible to exchange batteries if needed and replace other small items.