Back in September last year, we learned that Sony and UBLOX have new GNSS chips that promise the best-ever levels of GNSS accuracy in wearables. These are dual-band chipsets which use different frequencies of signal from the satellites, these dual frequencies (L1, L5) can give better precision. This is different from dual-constellations like GPS+GALILEO which offer the user a better selection of satellites.
At the time we speculated about dual-frequency, dual-constellation setups on running watches which might theoretically give us centimetre-level accuracy. The only problem with the speculation was that none of these new chips had found their way into commercially available sports watches. Well, now that’s changed.
Reader @Ben, pointed me toward the Shotscope V3 which claims compatibility to dual-frequency GPS and dual-frequency Galileo and which it markets as ‘Dual GPS Accuracy‘.
I did say in the title that there was a catch! Unfortunately, the Shot Scope V3 is a golf watch that only claims greater accuracy when walking (via @Ben). Grrr. At least this is one step close to the same tech appearing on running watches and we may even see it in 2021.
Then, digging deeper, an earlier Garmin handheld navigation unit also boasted ‘multi band’ GNSS technology eg Garmin GPSMAP 66sr (24 Sep 2020) claimed this at launch “GPSMAP 66sr and GPSMAP 65 Series now supports multiband GNSS technology, making them Garmin’s first handhelds to receive and utilize multiple frequencies sent by navigation satellites, enabling improved user position accuracy, specifically in areas where GNSS signals are reflected, weak or typically do not penetrate. Customers using multi-band technology will have superior accuracy and confidence they are using state of the art technology, previously only available to the military.” [See comments, below]
Take Out & Other Points
I’m still not convinced that this will herald too many real-world improvements for running. There are still reflected signals in urban canyons to deal with, for example. There are other tech solutions for that and other hurdles to overcome too…but we might also see solutions for those in 2021.
Then there is the minor issue that multiple frequency reception and processing require more power, although if the ability for extra precision could be toggled on/off then I’m sure many of us would make the battery life sacrifice when we ‘need’ it.
Summary: Don’t get excited but DO increase the ‘hope’ levels.