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BLE Saves Batteries for Mileage Tracker App

Motus has developed a beacon that, when placed in a user's car, can automatically turn a smartphone's GPS data on or off to help save batteries while tracking mileage throughout the workday.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 17, 2017

Anyone using GPS data on their phones know it can sap their batteries, which can pose a significant challenge for those using that data throughout their workday. Motus, which makes an app that tracks mileage for individuals and their employers automatically, has developed a solution using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).

The system employs small beacons to enable the Motus app to detect when a user needs the GPS tracking capability, and when he or she does not. A global biomedical device company piloted the technology four two and a half months recently, with approximately 75 sales representatives, and found that the beacon-based system spared users about 80 percent of their battery consumption.

A Motus beacon
Beacon-based data provided them with another benefit as well. Because the beacon, placed within a user's vehicle, can enable the app to identify when that user exits and returns to the vehicle, the Motus app can also identify how long that individual was at a specific meeting or customer site. That data enables billing, payroll and inventory management to replace devices or products that may have been sold during that visit.

Motus has offered its iOS- and Android-based Motus App since 2015 to help employees and employers track mileage, says Craig Powell, the compamy's CEO. "Our core business is managing reimbursement programs for people who drive for work," he says, "with a specific focus on those that drive more than 2,000 business miles per year." For instance, a biomedical device company may have thousands of representatives on the road at any given time, visiting hospitals or other customers to replenish their supplies, or to oversee the use of a product—such as the implantation of a medical device during surgery.

Without the app, employees must manually record the mileage they travel, the business purpose of the trip and the destination visited, and then seek reimbursement for expenses. Drivers may use paper-based notes and manually input information, such as how long they spend at each customer visit.

With the Motus app, Powell says, individuals "can use GPS data to automate tasks that would otherwise be manual." By enabling the app on his or her phone, a worker can begin using the GPS navigation technology built into the phone to collect and store his or her movements throughout the day. However, Powell adds, the app (like any location-based app) is power-hungry. If an individual is at a three-hour meeting at one site and does not manually turn off the app, the GPS data could consume the life of the battery. Remembering to plug the phone into the car charger, or to turn apps on and off during the workday, creates more hassles for busy sales reps or other mobile employees.

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