The Visage Mobile Golf Information System is the undisputed leader in golf GPS systems, but some say the company got where it is today simply by being first on the scene. Without much in the way of competition in the golf niche, Visage took control of the industry by partnering with Club Car. Now, however, Samsung has publicly announced that it has been testing a similar system in conjunction with GPS Systems International in Australia, and the customized golf carts made possible by this partnership are limited only by the imagination.
GPS Systems International
GPS Systems International is a company in Australia that has quietly been developing and deploying GPS asset-management software for golf courses. At the present, the company offers three different products:
• Golf Tracker – This software tracks vehicles and equipment used for the maintenance of golf courses.
• Golf Ranger – Golf Ranger tracks individuals who are walking their rounds on golf courses.
• Golf Pilot – Golf Pilot is the flagship product of GPS Systems. It is primarily used to monitor golf carts, but it also includes several other functions.
“We saw an opportunity to provide a holistic asset management solution for golf courses to reduce repair costs. Golf carts can do a tremendous amount of damage if they’re run down into the bunkers, across the green or into the rough,” said Marvin Pierce, director of GPS Systems. “We started working on a GPS-based software solution with the idea to install it into golf carts and provide alert and warning functions but needed a device to run the software efficiently.”
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3
When GPS Systems International knew that its software was complete and ready for the market, Pierce and his team turned their efforts to finding the hardware that would meet their needs. They knew that whichever device they chose, it would have to be flexible and include state-of-the-art functionality, such as Wi-Fi, 3G capability, a SIM card slot and a fast processor.
The Golf Pilot software processes a large quantity of information very quickly, and it displays a great deal of this processed information, which means that the screen must also be technologically advanced and viewable in bright, outdoor conditions.
Finally, after much consideration and several rounds of testing, GPS Systems chose the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 as the hardware solution most compatible with its software. After a deal had been struck with Samsung, the developers adjusted the software to run specifically on the Galaxy Tab 3 and Galaxy Note 3.
The final result is an innovative GPS asset-management system with a centralized platform and automated capabilities that can adjust to different languages.
Golf Pilot Innovations
Paired with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, Golf Pilot not only allows golf courses and clubs to monitor and track fleets of golf carts but also alerts drivers when they are steering off the course, detects potential rollover scenarios and plays a range of multimedia advertising. Also, the system can lock down carts at any appointed time individually or as a fleet, and the Navigator function displays the fastest, most efficient route to any hole on the course.
Cart Lock-Down is one of the most useful features of Golf Pilot for most golf courses because it can indeed keep assets from being misused and lost. Even though guests may have gotten in after closing, the system prevents them from taking the vehicles for joyrides.
The features of Golf Pilot, however, were not made only for the golf course side of the equation. Most of them were designed specifically to enhance the enjoyment of golfers during their games. For instance, golfers have the power to view localized maps of the course and calculate distances from anywhere on the map to the golf cart. It will even point out locations of interest, such as the clubhouse.
Also, golfers have the ability to contact staff at any time with questions or to order food and beverages in more than 60 languages. Many courses will then deliver the orders directly to the golf cart’s current location, eliminating the need to stop and wait.
One drawback that had to be overcome with the hardware was its susceptibility to adverse weather conditions, but together, GPS Systems and Samsung developed a rugged case with an IP55 rating that makes the Galaxy Tab 3 resistant to dust and water. The electric control unit for Golf Pilot also prevents the system from impacting the golf cart’s battery, which could otherwise void the manufacturer’s warranty.
“It’s a unique system that separates the charging of the cart, device, and electronic control unit,” said Pierce. “After a full charge, Golf Pilot on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 can run for between 12 and 14 hours. That’s about three rounds of golf.”
An optional accessory that is available without any additional cost provides set-the-pin functionality. A greenkeeper can view an area of the course through the Galaxy Tab 3 and move the flag to the exact spot on the green where the new pin position has been cut. The data is then relayed to a cloud server so it can be uploaded at the beginning of the next day.
Two Years of Successful Testing
Golf Pilot was first tested at RACV Healesville Resort in 2012, but by the first months of 2014, it had been installed at nine separate golf courses in Australia and New Zealand. About a dozen other courses had then installed Golf Pilot by the end of the same year.
According to Pierce, the testing has been a huge success, and he has received positive feedback from both the golf clubs and individual golfers throughout Australia. Some of the highest-rated clubs in the country are now showing interest in Golf Pilot while GPS Systems and Samsung continue to collaborate on research and development.
“In the short time Golf Pilot has been in use, clubs have already reported a decrease in course damage and have received praise from golfers on the solution’s functionality. Particularly the ability to operate in a language other than English and the anti-glare screen of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 when used outdoors,” stated Pierce.
He concluded by saying that Australia is only the product’s test market. After having surpassed projections, the company is seeking partnerships with major international golf-cart manufacturers to produce customized golf carts.