SEOUL, Dec. 20 (Korea Bizwire) – The world’s lightest GPS tracker for wildlife monitoring has been developed by South Korean researchers. Weighing only 17g, the new tracker is 8g lighter than what was formerly the lightest tracking gadget in the world, a device manufactured by Canadian firm Lotek.
The Ministry of Environment announced on December 19 that the GPS tracker had been produced via a joint collaboration between environmental research institutes.
The device’s full measurements are 49mm in width, 37mm in length and 16mm in thickness (height).
Equipped with a solar-powered battery that enables automatic recharging, the GPS tracker can self-sustain for up to three years. Its waterproof capability means it can be attached to animals like reptiles that traverse both water and land.
As a GPS tracker, its core function is to wirelessly transmit the location of its host animal; in addition, it will provide details on its (the device) own condition. When the connection with the tracker is lost, the device will retain the necessary data for up to six months. Another advantage is that received data can be stored in online databases.
The new device is also 80 percent cheaper than other satellite-linked tracking devices. The cost of the equipment and satellite usage typically came in around 10 million won, but in comparison, the world’s lightest GPS tracker can be implemented for 1.8 million won.
The researchers expect their device to aid research into preservation methods for small endangered animals and help predict the spread of avian influenza. The Korea Institute of Environment Ecology, one of the collaborating institutes in the development of the tracker, are of the opinion that even animals as small as birds weighing 500g can carry the tracker.
Avian influenza research previously consisted of attaching heavier tracking devices to larger birds like the mallard duck. The United States Geological Survey advises that tracking devices deployed weigh no more than 3 percent of the host animal’s body weight.
The data transmission abilities of the tracker are currently being tested in territories abroad. Should it pass all forms of testing, the device is forecast to hit the market in February.