Manufacturers of portable applications, such as smart wearable watches or trackers, have struggled to find the best balance between size and positioning performance in their products. The resulting products are not small enough and not accurate enough, which has led to a lower‑than‑expected adoption rate.
In response to this need, u‑blox developed the Super‑E positioning technology. Super‑E, short for Super‑Efficient, is an intelligent power mode that reduces overall power consumption without impacting positioning performance. It uses only the minimal resources required for tracking and maintaining an accurate position, as opposed to the full‑power operation, which always tries to maximize positioning performance.
Only when the signals are very weak or very few satellites are visible, is the full‑power scheme activated to maintain positioning performance.
In a real‑life sport watch scenario, Super‑E achieved three times the power saving, while maintaining position and speed accuracy comparable to the traditional u‑blox 1 Hz full power mode.
Super‑E mode is incorporated in a System in Package (SiP) solution that only occupies 20 mm2 and features a complete GNSS system, including TCXO, LNA, SAW filter and filtering elements for easy design‑in into any highly integrated product. Also available in a chip, the Super‑E mode combines low power consumption with high positioning accuracy in a design footprint of less than 30 mm2 (including all necessary components for a portable design).
- Sports accessories, such as sport and smart watches:
These customers are in need of GNSS reception but with reduced power consumption.
Their solutions integrate many features (e.g. heart rate) within the same low power budget
while using small batteries to make the product smaller.
This is crucial to reach a broader market and audiences that prefer slimmer designs.
- People and animal trackers
When a device goes beyond the geofence, a location update every few minutes is not enough to accurately locate the tracker.
The operator must then keep the system on, which rapidly depletes the battery.
For emergency situations, it is important to have the longest battery life.
- Fitness trackers
With high penetration in the mass market in recent years, these devices are simple,
low cost and slim.
Fitness trackers need GNSS to accurately track workouts in real‑time.
However, they must stay at the same price point and still look slim to remain attractive.
- Consumer tag trackers
Consumer Bluetooth low energy tag devices use a function called “crowd finding GNSS” to locate
moving targets such as dogs and bikes.
This is highly inefficient as it requires other smartphone owners to have the required application
installed on their phone to find the lost asset when passing by. Adding GNSS (+connectivity)
as an “emergency” option for when the device is lost would give peace of mind to its owner.
It is very important that the device remains small (with a small battery) for its adoption and implementation in objects (e.g. keys, wallet, and bike).
- Industrial trackers like vehicles
More and more trackers work with a battery and have a limited power budget for GNSS,
as opposed to traditional vehicle tracking boxes that are connected to the vehicle battery.