For years, GPS devices were standalone pieces of equipment that required their own operating system and had overly complicated interfaces and functions. If someone wanted to collect data using their GPS device in the field, it often meant a lot of configuring, testing and training to collect even the most basic data. If you had a complex form or survey requiring photo collection and were concerned with location, it required that you buy expensive equipment.
Those days are officially over. With Fulcrum, you can build powerful forms and surveys in your web browser, deploy them to your smartphone or tablet and immediately begin collecting data using the GPS on your device. On some occasions, the native GPS on your smartphone isn’t accurate enough, so users must turn to external Bluetooth GPS devices for improved accuracy.
Your smartphone GPS is designed to prioritize getting a location fix quickly, with accuracy of secondary importance. However, the accuracy of smartphone GPS is continually improving, and is by no means “inaccurate”. Most smartphones and tablets made in the last year currently have a 3 - 5 meter accuracy level. On the other hand, an external GPS device is designed for precision. Once it locks onto enough satellites, it can maintain a very high level of accuracy often required in the field.
Using Bluetooth GPS devices has another added benefit for users; it decreases your smartphone’s battery consumption. Typically, the Bluetooth connection between the smartphone and an external Bluetooth GPS requires little power, so this method can greatly increase your smartphone battery life for outdoor applications. Acquiring multiple satellite signals and calculating the location multiple times a second requires a lot of energy. Using a Bluetooth GPS pushes that workload off the smartphone, giving it a longer battery life in the field.
Although I am not a GPS expert, I am frequently asked if Fulcrum can be used with external Bluetooth GPS devices. I compiled this comparison chart for my own use and felt it valuable enough to share with users. External Bluetooth GPS devices work by replacing your smartphone’s native GPS location, and by then making the new location available for apps that need it. Any app that uses the device’s location service will also see accuracy and precision improvement. Many of the higher end GPS devices on the bottom of the list are extremely accurate, more so than others, however they require apps to use their SDK to conduct additional computations and to achieve sub-centimeter accuracy.
The chart below can help you find the best Bluetooth GPS device for your needs. I’ve also left links to the devices we have reviewed in the past.
Here is a link to a more detailed comparison chart. Feel free to add a note if something needs to be updated. I have also included smartphone GPS devices that run Android available on the market as well as Bluetooth barcode scanners.
GarminGLOiOS/Android12h2.12oz (60.1g)3 m$129
DualXGPS160iOS/Android10h2.6oz (73.1g)+/-2.5 m$149
Bad ElfGPS ProiOS/Android25h+3.2oz (90.7g)+/-2.5 m$149
Bad ElfGPS Pro+iOS/Android25h+3.2oz (90.7g)+/-2.5 m$249
TrimbleLeapiOS/Android16h9.5oz (269g)2 m$999
SXBlueSXBlueII+Android16h4oz (114g)-1 m$1,695
EOSArrow LiteiOS/Android16h13.1oz (372g)60 cm$1,995
SXBlueBlueIIAndroid10h18.24oz (517g)60 cm$2,195
TrimbleR1 GNSSiOS/Android10h+6.6oz (187g)60 cm$2,495
TrimbleR2 GNSSiOS/Android10h+38.1oz (1.01kgg)50 cm$2,700
SXBlueIIGNSSAndorid10h17.1oz (487g)60 cm$2,895
EOSArrow 100iOS/Android8h13.1oz (372g)60 cm$2,995
SXBlueIIBAndroid10h18.24oz (517g)60 cm$3,695
SXBlueIII-L GNSSAndroid9h18.24oz (517g)10 cm$6,995
SXBlueIIIGNSSAndroid9h17.1oz (487g)1 cm$6,995
EOSArrow 200iOS/Android8.5h13.1oz (372g)1 cm$6,995