LabSat 3 – Narrative Case Study

LabSat is a GNSS record and replay system that allows for systematic and repeatable testing of GPS based products. In this article we look at how it has been put to use in the development of one of the new wave of ‘Wearable’ devices.

In a similar fashion to the explosion in the mobile phone market, the ‘Wearables’ sector is set to grow at a similar pace, with forecasts of approximately 210 million new devices being shipped by 2018 – an increase of over 100%.

As you would expect, this expansion hasn’t been ignored by businesses looking to capitalise on what is already a major revenue stream. Amazon has created a department dedicated entirely to the sector, their director of wireless and mobile electronics announcing recently: “Wearable technology is an exciting category with rapid innovation and our customers are increasingly coming to Amazon to shop and learn about these devices.” Tellingly, such is the pace at which these products are being developed and produced that Amazon feels the need to incorporate a learning centre to help their customers navigate through the myriad of options on offer.

Case Study: Narrative “Clip” wearable camera

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.


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’ traveling through the ionosphere. Consistency is therefore hard to maintain, so a LabSat is the perfect solution.

Martin Källström, CEO and co-founder, in an interview with 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-testingLabSat 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 fulfill this requirement.

The Narrative Clip website.

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LabSat 3 launched at ION GNSS Expo

The third generation LabSat breaks cover at the ION GNSS expo, September 16th to 20th. The new record, replay, and simulation device represents a major step forward in convenience and portability.

GNSS simulator

GNSS simulator

With multi constellation capability and one-touch record and replay, LabSat3 allows developers looking for realistic signal output to record scenarios in the field – measuring only 167mm x 128mm x 43mm, the unit can be easily carried anywhere – for later replay in the laboratory.

Testing and development of new devices can be conducted with total realism and repeatability on the bench. This allows for an accurate assessment of performance in less than ideal signal conditions, without the need to constantly venture into such environments.

Due to its small size, integrated battery, and simple operation, no specialist knowledge is required to operate a LabSat3; and it comes complete with scenarios so that immediate testing can commence.

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LabSat. Record and replay GPS and GLONASS for faster, more effective testing

LabSat - GNSS Record and Replay System

LabSat - GNSS Record and Replay System

LabSat by Racelogic is a low cost GPS Simulator (with Glonass option) which gives you the ability to record and replay real GNSS RF data as well as user generated scenarios.

If you are selling, testing or developing products incorporating GPS or GNSS engines, then you’ll find LabSat makes your job easier and more effective.

For more information, go to

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Marine systems manufacturer Kongsberg uses record and replay system for GPS device interference testing

Marine systems manufacturer Kongsberg uses record and replay system for GPS device interference testing

Based in Norway, Konsburg is one of the world’s leading international marine electronics manufacturers, providing products for safe navigation and operations at sea.

With equipment designed to be used in marine operations where high positional accuracy is critical, Konsburg needed a way to repeatedly test the real world performance of their equipment. To do this, they have been using LabSat to test the effects of interference on their new positioning reference system, the DPS 4D, which offers worldwide sub-metre accuracy.

Arne Rinnan, CTO of Kongsberg Seatex AS, said: “Using LabSat to record and replay real GPS data, and observing temporary interference from telecoms equipment was extremely beneficial to our engineers in assisting with the development of our advanced DGPS products.”

Check out more LabSat customer profiles…
Guidance test GPS ankle tags in new Offender Monitoring Technology
How Roke Manor Research use LabSat for GPS development

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GPS + GLONASS capability available for LabSat in April

GPS + GLONASS capability available for LabSat in April

With the launch of three new GLONASS-M satellites by the Russian space agency ROSCOSMOS in December, the GLONASS constellation is well on its way to having the 24 satellites required to provide a global service.

19 GLONASS satellites are now in orbit, and despite three being serviced or replaced, the constellation should be complete this year. It is no wonder then that many GNSS receivers are now being developed for multi constellation use.

Responding to this, with a full working prototype in operation at our UK headquarters, production units with GPS + GLONASS capability will be available to ship in April this year. This will enable you to accurately test and develop multi constellation devices in real world conditions.

GPS + GLONASS with LabSat

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University of Colorado study says record and replay systems are best for GNSS device testing

Asking the question “What is the best way to quantify how well a navigation system performs in a realistic testing scenario?” a study carried out by the University of Colorado recently concluded that the record and playback testing method is the most effective.

Evaluating a range of GNSS receivers, the study found that record and playback systems overcome the fidelity limits of purely simulator based testing, especially in difficult to model environments. The study also emphasised the fact that only one drive is required for each location, ensuring testing repeatability.

A LabSat Record and Replay GPS Simulator was used as part of the study, which the University of Colorado had borrowed on a free loan demonstration for their evaluation. To arrange a free loan please contact

Read the article here.

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Simulation available to model SVN49 Satellite Errors

Racelogic are working with NavSys Corporation to provide LabSat customers with an option to simulate the signals coming from the troubled SVN 49 satellite.

The problems have been caused by signals from the L1 and L2 antennas being un-intentionally reflected by a new antenna designed to transmit on the new L5 band.

NavSys and Racelogic have been in discussions with GPS Wing, and we will shortly be releasing an update to the SatGen software to give users the ability to simulate the errant signal so they can tune their receivers to cope when the Satellite is switched to healthy.

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