Case Study - Memoto's Narrative Clip wearable camera

Posted in Customer Profiles

Narrative-LogoThe Narrative Clip is a typically innovative wearable, and one of the new wave of 'lifelogging' devices now finding their way into mass production. It is a tiny (36mm x 36mm x 9mm) five megapixel camera with enough memory to store four thousand images and battery power for two days of use. Designed and manufactured by a Swedish company originally called Memoto, who sourced crowdfunding to get the project off the ground, the Narrative Clip is small and non-intrusive to the point that it can be easily worn on one's clothes.

It is such a neat design that it has no buttons at all, only requiring to be put face down to enter standby mode. One of the standout features of the device is that the miniature enclosure includes a custom GPS engine and antenna, allowing for every image it takes to be geotagged. Future development of the cloud-based storage of these images will allow for searching by location.

Narrative clip

Bjorn Wesen, one of the developers on the project, explains how they got started:

"Because GPS does not work well indoors, at first we simply needed a way to test reception inside our office. Since we're not based in California, we can't just move the office outdoors! We started with a simple GPS-repeater, that is, an antenna mounted outside and an amplifier and re-transmitter indoors. This worked fine for some of the engineering tasks, but is not sufficient to reproduce testing scenarios or comparing sensitivity between different antenna-solutions, so we started looking at GPS record/replay products and that's when I contacted Racelogic."

This is a problem often faced by anyone developing a product that will include GPS: whilst it is entirely possible to walk outside and check that a signal is obtained, as Bjorn points out, it doesn't go far enough. The satellite almanac is constantly shifting, as are the signals themselves as they are 'bent' travelling through the ionosphere. Consistency is therefore hard to maintain, so a LabSat is the perfect solution.

Narrative-ClipMartin Källström, CEO and co-founder, in an interview with Slashgear.com in October 2013, gave an insight into the kind of issues they encountered:

"In the first integration, we were planning to use a small GPS antenna that was 2 x 3 mm and actually uses the PCB as the real antenna, but that didn't work at all. So we worked with antenna experts in Sweden on a wire antenna, that goes along the top of the camera...And that antenna worked excellently inside, in the lab. Even inside the camera, with the PCB, it was excellent. And then, when we disconnected it from the lab equipment and put it inside the camera, and turned it on, it didn't work at all. There was no signal coming out of the GPS antenna.

So we wired the antenna not into the PCB but into the lab equipment, and we could see that when the electronics of the camera was shut off, the antenna worked perfectly; when the camera was turned on, the antenna didn't work at all. There was a signal there, but it was completely drowned out with noise. The casing was a perfect echo chamber for the electronic waves, so we had a completely abstract process trying to remedy it by moving the components around the PCB."

(Read the full interview here)

Now that the hardware development is complete, LabSat is still an integral part in the Clip's manufacture. Bjorn:

"For consistent production testing in our factory, we again needed the reproducibility of a recorded GPS signal, so for that it was an obvious fit. Currently the factory has two LabSat 3 Replay units for testing in two production pipeline stages."

LabSat-Recording-live-GPS-data-for-testing

LabSat 3 gives the user the ability to record real-world satellite signals so that on-the-bench testing can be totally realistic. Whilst Narrative don't currently develop GPS positioning algorithms themselves, Bjorn can see that before long this will come into play:

"We don't currently use the feature where we could go around the world and record complicated scenarios to use in GPS-development. But we might need to do parts of this for independent, consistent qualification of GPS-solutions, so it's definitely something we see a use for."

As the world of wearables continues to grow, the need for consistent signal testing will become greater, and LabSat will fulfil this requirement.

The Narrative Clip website.

 

Case Study: Road Angel

Posted in Customer Profiles

RoadAngel vantageLabSat GPS record and replay technology saves 6,000 hrs of testing for market leader in speed camera locators

Engineers involved in developing devices using satellite technology face a constant challenge: verifying that their products are operating as intended in all conditions and locations. For Road Angel, the market leader in GPS safety camera and black spot locators based in Silverstone, UK, it is vital that their products work 100% of the time – or risk complaints from customers who claim that their device failed to warn them of speed cameras.

Previously, Road Angel's technicians had to individually test units by driving past known speed camera locations and identifying the units which failed to activate, indicating a malfunction in the GPS system. Because this method required a vehicle and driver, it was time consuming, expensive, and only provided subjective reporting of errors.

What if there was a way to test devices in live sky conditions, without having to manually test them in the field? This was an ability claimed by Racelogic, designers of LabSat - the first device capable of recording GNSS signals and replaying them into a product under test. To see if it lived up to the claims, Road Angel borrowed a LabSat for two weeks.

Richard Meechan, Road Angel's Development Director, went out and recorded a live route with LabSat, incorporating several speed camera types and locations. He could then replay the recording into the systems under test as many times as necessary.

Meechan explained: "We had LabSat running 24/7 in our lab for over two weeks, replaying a thirty minute test drive into twenty test units at a time." He continued: "Each block of units had a different version of firmware installed. LabSat was used to evaluate how well each version detected the various speed camera systems recorded, including new types of cameras introduced since the original firmware was released."

So did it work? Meechan said: "During the two week loan period, the LabSat saved us over six thousand hours of testing of our new Vantage GPRS connected speed camera locator. We can now bring products and features to market far sooner than before, backed up with the confidence of objective test results, whilst hardly needing to leave the office!"

Satisfied with the results, Road Angel has now purchased a Replay only LabSat system, and a copy of Racelogic's GPS simulation software, SatGen.

Simulating a scenario with the SatGen software means that Road Angel can test the operation of their devices anywhere in the world. They have found it ideal in instances where customers claim that their product failed to indicate a camera, or where the device indicated a camera where there was none. Testing engineers can use SatGen in conjunction with Google Earth to recreate a test drive past the area where the device was claimed to malfunction, to see what went wrong and repair it.

 

Case Study: How MSL Circuits test 20,000 Eco-Tax navigation devices a month

Posted in Customer Profiles

MSL circuitsMore and more manufacturers are now using record and replay technology to test GNSS applications. Our mini case study series offers an insight into the experience of how companies are using LabSat to test their GPS products.

This case study features a unique application from French manufacturer MSL Circuits, who produce the Eco-Tax navigation device integrating GPS, GSM and DSRC technology.

What was the requirement for MSL Circuits?

Having developed electronic systems for the automotive industry for over 20 years from their location in the Loire Valley, MSL Circuits needed a simple but reliable production test for every Eco-Tax GPS device. With 20,000 units a month, the testing method needed to be quick and effective.

Cyril Parrot, Test Engineer, said: "To ensure the correct operation of each device we wanted to simulate a GPS signal from a single satellite. The challenge was in playing exactly the same signal for every single product to ensure consistency."

The testing solution

"When we searched the internet we found some products which could carry out these tests but they were all too expensive and complex," Parrot explained. "When we found the LabSat system we saw it could do everything we required at a better price."

"The radio frequency (RF) tests are completed using an RF chamber to avoid external noise, while the LabSat is securely integrated within a semi-automatic tester to ensure accurate tests are carried out as quickly as possible."

He added, "LabSat allows us to consistently replay the same test scenario over and over again in order to provide our customers with reliable products. The tests are done using both an internal product antenna and an external antenna in conductive mode to ensure the Eco-Tax devices are tested to the highest levels."

 

Case Study: DGE order 10 LabSats for Vehicle Telematics Simulation

Posted in Customer Profiles

dce-case-studyDGE are experts in developing electronic control modules, telematics integration and validation services. When they were commissioned by a major automotive manufacturer to develop a tool to enable vehicle telematics to be tested without needing to physically perform tests on the road, they needed a GPS Simulator they could trust.

The Michigan USA based company required a GPS simulation device that could integrate with their system tester to evaluate telematics control units in a controlled environment. Previously using more expensive systems, DGE chose LabSat devices to record and replay GPS and CAN signal data.

Impressed by LabSat's ability to drastically reduce testing time, DGE have now placed orders for ten LabSat devices.

Chris Shamoun, Program Manager for DGE, said: "We look forward to using our new LabSats to develop our system performance. They'll also be key in allowing for future flexibility and automation of our Telematics System Testers (TST)."

Jim Lau, Technical Director at LabSat distributor VBOX USA, said "DGE's investment in ten LabSat units shows they believe in our technology and recognize it is a great solution to testing their in-car telematics systems.

"We demonstrated the LabSat to them over a year ago but I am delighted to see that they chose us for their current project. We look forward to continuing to supply and support DGE in their testing needs."