Keeping Track of GPS Technology – The Different Types of GPS Trackers


Following on from my first article on how GPS tracking devices work and to help clients make an informed choice when taking advantage of our limited time 30% off discount, I thought it would be useful to have a look at how GPS tracking technology has evolved, the types of device now on the market and the factors to consider when choosing one.

To the uninitiated it can seem very confusing! After all, there are in excess 500 manufacturers of GPS devices, each producing a variety of types to manage things from ‘basic’ tracking through to the more complex devices that include things like hardware sensors or the ability to monitor for a particular ‘condition’.

Essentially, GPS trackers can be divided into a few basic groups:

Soft Trackers – Mobile/Tablet Tracking App

A “soft tracker” is a software program installed on a smartphone (App), tablet or any other device. The software gets access to GPS receiver and exchanges messages with the server through GSM and Wi-Fi modules. The FleetPursuit designed mobile app GPSTag & WiaTag is a perfect example of a soft tracker.

Tracking software is considerably cheaper than hardware-based trackers, but its functions are often limited to finding a unit’s precise location and data transfer. Utilising this app GPS solution will provide the traditional data of any standard hardware GPS device – the only data it cannot provide is that of engine specific information as it is not directly connected to the vehicle.

These mobile/tablet app based GPS tracking is fine for many practical needs in many situations. Some of the key benefits include:

  • Low cost – no physical hardware to purchase
  • Easy to use – simply download to mobile and activate
  • Ideal for small companies that only require basic (traditional) functions
  • Ideal for any size business that already utilise tablets for their field personnel
  • Can be used as a personnel tracker with SOS, images, built in text ability
  • Good option for subcontractors – they do not need hardware
  • Short-term use instead of investing in hardware for a short period

As an example of where this App solution is currently utilised, FleetPursuit top 4 customers sectors range from trade services, security, transport, courier and small business – however this option can be used almost anywhere.

Mobile GPS App

Vehicle GPS trackers

There are several types of vehicle trackers that can be used for any vehicle type, cars, trucks, buses, machinery etc.. They all perform similar functions, but connect to the vehicle  in a different way. They are:

  • Wire-connected trackers
  • OBD II trackers
  • Trackers connected to electric cigar lighter

Let’s take a look at each one in a bit more detail.

Wire Connected Trackers

These tracking devices are connected to the power-supply system of the vehicle. There also can be an embedded battery for emergency cases. With some trackers an external antenna can be used for better GPS and GSM signal reception.

Added hardware – including fuel level sensors, driver ID sensors, DVRs, ignition and technical state control systems, temperature sensors, etc. – can also be connected to the more advanced trackers.

There’s an option to remotely change device settings and configuration through firmware update and control commands – ensuring best management, usually this is handled by the service provider.

Advantages: Wire-connected trackers are multi-functional and reliable. Concealed wiring is also a plus and reduces tampering. Simple requirements without added sensors they are easy to install – 3-wire.

Disadvantages: Complex wiring when sensors are used, requiring professional installation

The cost of a wire-connected tracker is determined by its functions, what you require the ability to monitor and sensors that can be added and will vary accordingly from a few hundred dollars upwards.

A fine example of a popular GPS wire-connected tracker is FleetPursuit GT06 range.

Wired GPS Unit

OBDII trackers

An OBDII (on-board diagnostic) tracker is designed to work with the vehicle’s OBDII port or vehicle service port. It is compatible with most vehicles that were manufactured after 2008. Through this connector you can receive data from the vehicle’s on-board computer and other sensors of the vehicle.

GPS equipment manufacturers make the most of these advantages – they crafted a tracker that can be plugged into an ODBII connector directly.

Advantages: OBDII trackers are multi-functional and easy to install – “plug & play”.

Disadvantages: Low positioning accuracy when no external antennae are used. More expensive to purchase by around 30 or 40%. Sensor readings do not always provide comprehensive data. To increase accuracy of fuel level control, it is recommended to use specially designed flow meters and fuel level sensors.

Additional external sensors cannot be added to most OBDII trackers.

This is an example of OBDII tracker.


Trackers connected to electric cigar lighter

Sometimes you have to use one tracker on several vehicles. For this purpose, a tracker with an option to connect to electric cigar lighter was designed. It is a portable device with a water-resistant body. As a rule, lighter-connected trackers have a limited set of functions; extra sensors are hard to install due to wiring issues. You don’t have to use external antennae, because the tracker is placed in front of the windscreen, so the signal intensity is usually fine.

Advantages: Lighter-connected trackers are small, portable and easy to install.

Disadvantages: There are no concealed wiring options, so careless drivers can easily disable tracking equipment.

When it comes to examples, we should probably name the Gosafe G717 GPS tracking device as it is a simple and effective unit.

It is worth mentioning that this type of tracker does not have a wide range of functions on its own. The device only generates location and sensor data and then sends it to the server for further processing.

Plugin GPS

In summary

Depending on your requirements, what you need to track and/or monitor there is a wide choice available to suit all your requirements.

Selecting a reliable solution to meet current and future needs, hardware or app based, is key to investing in the most suitable solution. FleetPursuit can work with you to find the ideal solution for you and take away any confusion.

The applications of GPS Tracking devices for businesses are extensive. We have clients of all sizes and across a huge variety of industries – all with varying needs, from basic through to complex requirements.

What’s more in the run up to Christmas 2017, we are running a special offer: purchase ANY quantity of our GPS tracker hardware devices and we will give you 30% off the standard price!

If your business would like to take advantage of the heavily discounted prices we have available for a very limited time, click here for more details or contact us today on 07 3236 6055.