new, More Accurate GPS Sports Watch | There’s A Catch Though



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‘.


Shotscope Specifications


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, via @MJB]



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.




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16 thoughts on “new, More Accurate GPS Sports Watch | There’s A Catch Though

  1. Dual Band is great on paper and can indeed provide centimeter level accuracy with the right components (think choke ring antennas) but that will never be the case for watches due to the physical constaints (think tiny antennas), heck it doesn’t even provide that on phones where it’s been available for 2+ years.

    1. You get chest straps for better heart rate accuracy, why not have a GPS strap for improved GPS accuracy? Perhaps an pod/aerial that sits on a cap?

      1. Yes, plus it won’t help with tall buildings and bridges. Maybe some focus on putting some sort of radar/sensor into a foot pod that maps out the surface as you run, but this will most likely have battery life issues. Some sort of hybrid solution when GPS signals are weak or non existent will probably be the best method.

  2. I believe Garmin GPSMAP 66sr is using “dual band” (or as they call it “Multiband”) although I haven’t seen any specific reviews of it.

      1. Did you update the article to reflect this or am I losing my mind and totally missed it the first read?

      2. yes updated! thank you. i did some more research too.
        People come back to read this again as it was so good the first time 😉
        interestingly the next new garmin sports watch (out very soon) might possibly have this feature (it would fit with its place in the market)

      3. Then it will be Forerunner 955 / LTE.
        will be interesting to see if they use LTE to improve the Positionsignal. I guess not for power consumption.

      4. I’m assuming the “Garmin Enduro Watch” is a recent addition to that page? There’s no comments about it on the page other than the one line. Any insights you’ve gleaned? (Sort of between Fenix and Instinct)

  3. Dual band (L5) has been available in phones for a few years. Snapdragon sd855 was the first Qualcom chipset (Mi8 had an external chip, Huawei/Kirin were also earlier) with support, L5 has been supported in most soc for the last year. All phones did not enable support and there were minor gain in those that has enabled it. I have found few tests too. Most “tests” have just compared the accuracy reported by the device which is not so meaningful (like trusting benchmarking scores by bundled apps!).
    Still, there have been not much real life improvement.

    This is maybe to some extent SW related. But the majority of the gain should be in the firmware, you cannot do so much with SW and other sensors.
    There are not so many L5 sats either, it will improve.

    But I have not a high hope of running watches with L5 in 2021 that will be much better than current.

    1. agreed.
      i’d be interested to know more about L5 sats. I assumed that GPS and galileo had the same/both frequencies on each satellite (well, there’s 3 frequencies iirc).

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