UPDATE: The Casio GPS Watch is expected to be available to purchase in October 1999. Street price is expected to be approximately $350. Casio is sending inquirers to one of their distributors, Global Products. Also, Shoplite has advised us they have the GPS Watch in stock.
Casio introduced the world's first wristwatch with built-in Global Positioning System (GPS) capability at the January 1999 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. No word yet on price or availability (click on photo for larger image).
The Casio GPS watch is obviously much smaller than the smallest currently available handheld GPS navigation devices. However, from the accompanying photo, listed dimensions and the inherent size of the battery, it's obviously not exactly tiny. At just over 5 ounces, it is also not exactly a super-lightweight, but it will, indeed, strap to your wrist and weighs no more than some of those ego-boosting pilot watches.
Its wrist-worn configuration means that GPS capabilities will always be available where position data readout and storage is vital. The potential benefits are obvious for the outdoors sports enthusiast and survivor. While battery life is limited, in combination with a traditional compass for maintaining your approximate desired track while moving, as is done conventionally, the GPS watch could be a powerful tool. It is certainly not a panacea, but for those equipped with the appropriate knowledge, it could make a big difference. What follows is from the Casio press release.
Multi Shield Layer (MSL) Construction -- Internal circuitry is layered to create the most compact design possible. Shield layers between the circuits keep out electrical noise from neighboring circuits, while allowing a compact design and maintaining the high sensitivity required to pick up GPS satellite transmissions.
Low-power Operation -- Casio's own original chip design makes it possible to provide GPS pickup on a mere 3 Volts. A single standard lithium battery (CR2) provides up to 600 single readings, or, less practically, approximately 10 hours of automatic monitoring during which the reading is updated once per minute.
Built-in Almanac Data -- Almanac data broadcast from GPS satellites is stored in the watch's EEPROM and used in combination with preset area and time data to immediately start positioning measurements with the satellites that are currently overhead. The result is less time required to obtain a reading, even after the battery is replaced. A new intermittent receiver circuit greatly reduces power consumption during standby, while a Quick Measurement Mode makes it possible to obtain a reading in about four seconds from standby.
GPS Locator -- The 8-channel receiver can pick up signals from up to 8 GPS satellites. Data is received from at least three GPS satellites to determine your current location. As quickly as four seconds after you trigger a GPS operation, your current latitude (degrees, minutes, seconds north or south) and longitude (degrees, minutes, seconds east or west) appear on the display. Four modes let you select from among single read, quick reading, 1-minute read, and 1-second read.
Navigation --After you specify your destination, the watch graphically indicates the direction and the distance to your destination from your current location. This data can be updated along the way, which means you always have an idea of remaining distance and the correct direction. If you are taking continuous readings, you can also produce a reading of your current bearing and speed, and even calculate your estimated of arrival.
Landmark Memory -- GPS readings can be stored in memory so you can recall them later to retrace your route. Individual readings for up to 200 points can be stored, and up to 100 points of continuous route data. In the case of route data, your route can be shown graphically on the display, giving you an easy-to-understand idea of the route to your destination.
GPS Based Precision Timekeeping -- Timekeeping is automatically adjusted based on radio signals broadcast from GPS satellites, which ensures a very high level of timekeeping precision.
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