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State-of-the-art GPS and Telematics Solutions
For the designer tasked with the development of a Telematics platform or any other GPS based application, there are many detailed options to evaluate. Also for management, there are important longer-term strategic and financial implications to carefully consider. The decisions made right at the outset can seriously affect the ultimate performance, time to market, reliability and therefore the revenue achieved by the final product. Vincotech is an established and experienced innovator of easily-implemented GPS receiver and telematics hardware solutions and has extended its portfolio to ensure a safe entry into this market.
With GPS rapidly becoming an increasingly vital part of our business and private lives, the market for these devices has seen a strong and steady business growth. Apart from traditional GPS applications, such as navigation and car breakdown emergency systems, GPS functionality has expanded well into the industrial and business markets. Similarly, many industrial solutions developed today implement accurate positioning and very often, intelligent data communication.
The area of telematics applications using GPS is widely reported to be a potentially huge market with a growing diversity of applications to provide an advantage over competition for many commercial operations and organizations. It can be easily implemented anywhere where data is needed on the move, particularly in the burgeoning area of fleet management where remote information is required concerning, for example, location, speed, control settings, instrument readings or environmental conditions; quite literally, anything that can be detected, monitored or measured, can be transmitted as data for analysis to a desired central hub or location for analysis and processing.
For designers and manufacturers of telematics systems, the decision to choose either the chipset or modular route is crucial to the ‘bottom-line’ or profitability of the final product. Often, when volumes are not huge, the basic information in the form of rough block diagrams and data sheets, usually provided by the chip set suppliers isn’t enough to give designers the necessary help in getting a design up and running quickly and into production. Designers are often left ‘high and dry’ having to figure out solutions to the normal design problems encountered, using highly specialized and expensive equipment, while under extreme pressure to deliver a successfully manufacturable product design.
Also, the financial costs experienced in chipset-based development of these systems can be daunting. In medium volumes the bill of materials can be unacceptably high.
These aspects need to be considered very carefully and are of significant importance to all elements of the design and business development for the final product. The large up-front investment in the specialized test equipment and software investment required together with the sometimes lengthy and arduous qualification of the functional block “GPS” puts great pressure on the design and financial management teams within a company.
To compound problems, the purchasing of a larger BOM including the more ‘exotic’ components such as the TCXO, SAW filter and LNA, which are available only from specialist suppliers with long lead times and high prices, is another headache - even for medium volumes.
Purchasing departments given the task of assembling a cost plan for the BOM just cannot achieve the leverage of volume ordering discounts– especially with the specialized component suppliers who give the sought-after discounts and preferential delivery schedules to their more lucrative, high volume ‘Tier 1’ customers.
These are precisely the areas that Vincotech's positioning products and technology address. The ready-made state-of-the-art solutions - GPS modules, smart GPS antennas, and Advanced Telematics Platforms - are developed by Vincotech to enable engineers and mid-size companies to easily develop and implement GPS functionality into their systems with the advantages of simplified design with a minimum of risk, reduced financial investment and therefore, fastest time-to-market. All the specialized and usually highly expensive RF design, qualification and test processes are done. The module becomes virtually ‘plug and play’ with future-proofing and upgrading of end products made easy by Vincotech’s long term expertise and forward investment.
While devices designed and manufactured for consumer applications need to be very compact, other industries put their emphasis on reliability and quality, long term availability of products, and manufacturing characteristics that allow for 100% visual inspection during assembly. Further, all applications are driven by the need for ever higher GPS sensitivity along with lower power consumption. The life cycle of GPS products decreases as leaps in technology enable more features and higher levels of performance to be achieved. The manufacturing company must therefore be able to upgrade its product family in unison with these technology advances to maintain market acceptance.
In terms of competitive advantage, the industry renowned SiRF GPS chipset adopted by Vincotech has become well established in a broad range of applications and is distinguished from its rivals by its ability to rapidly acquire satellite signal and to maintain a solid signal-lock – even in intensely built-up urban districts or densely covered forest environments. The chipset’s remarkably low power drain extends the battery life providing a further significant improvement in user experience over competing systems.
Vincotech’s GPS receiver module / smart antenna A1035-H is a highly integrated GPS antenna receiver module based on the proven technology of a GPS receiver module and a ceramic GPS patch antenna. An RF switch is integrated on the module allowing changing of RF input from the on-module antenna to an external antenna. The module is capable of receiving signals from up to 20 GPS satellites and transferring them into position and timing information that can be read over a serial port. With this module Vincotech has achieved the ‘sweet-spot’ combining high performance with new features at lowest system costs. Enhanced with the employment of SIRF chipset technology, the A1035-H provides an excellent sensitivity along with a low power consumption.
The receiver / smart antenna module is available as an off-the-shelf component, 100% tested and shipped in tape-and-reel.
The important decision for any company entering the market, hinges on its confidence in the anticipated volumes, equipment and expertise and importantly, the level of acceptable risk in which it is prepared to make investment. The volatility and highly competitive nature of the business in these turbulent times make the low cost-of-ownership and a safe, early market entry offered by the module route, a pragmatic choice. For further information on Vincotech’s GPS portfolio, visit: www.vincotech.com/Positioning_Products.0.html.