Posted by Nick Knellinger
Wearables are used for a variety reasons, such as fitness tracking, emergency response, child & animal tracking, offender tracking and more. Each wearable use case is unique, but they all have one key thing in common, which is that hybrid location is a critical component to provide the features and functionality consumers expect.
You may be wondering why wearable devices can’t just rely on GPS (GNSS) for accurate location. GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) are incredible systems that have been around since the late 70’s and are ideal for locating devices outdoors, down to ~5 meters in commercial devices. However, if you want to locate devices indoors, in an apartment building, in a basement or a dense urban environment, then that’s where hybrid positioning comes in. Wearable device manufacturers need to take this into consideration when designing the devices as they need to meet the needs and wants of consumers in order to be successful. Consumers expect the location in their devices to be spot on with no inaccuracies.
Hybrid positioning leverages GNSS, Cellular, and Wi-Fi data to provide the most precise location possible in any given environment. In the case of wearables, hybrid location is critical in locating these devices.
Here are some examples why:
One use case in which hybrid location is a critical component is mobile personal emergency response devices, also known as MPERs. People who suffer from life threatening or chronic diseases rely heavily on these devices to convey their location accurately to medical professionals when it matters the most. If a senior collapses at home and is alone and unable to get up, these devices can alert a medical team for immediate help. Since medical emergencies can happen anywhere, it’s critical that the device can be located either indoors or in dense urban environments. The emergency response team needs to know exactly where the person is so that they can get to them immediately without any uncertainty.
Offender tracking devices have become increasingly common in recent years and are said to reduce the number of arrests and save taxpayers money. Offenders spend about 80% of their time indoors, meaning the devices must have accurate location and yield to monitor and locate offenders in all environments. The devices are used to keep offenders in or out of certain zones and trigger alert messages with a call to action for supervisory personnel. They are also used for curfew monitoring and crime scene correlation. Location plays a key role in these devices ensuring accuracy and precision.
Another important use case for wearables and hybrid location is child and animal trackers. These tracking devices are used to locate children or animals when they get lost or are in an emergency situation. The devices rely on location to provide their primary features and functionality, such as time-based alerts based on proximity, on-demand location updates, SOS buttons and geofence triggers to alert when a child or animal is detected outside a specific zone. Similarly, it’s crucial that the child or animal can be located indoors and other environments without clear view of the sky and satellite constellations.
These examples only scratch the surface of what wearable devices can do when paired with hybrid location. Consumers have increasingly high expectations of location in devices as they expect it to work in all environments, comparable to the hybrid location provided by their smartphones. Hybrid location enables wearables to meet consumers needs and provide the features that they expect.
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