The New Trimble R1 GNSS Receiver: Now you can turn your smartphone or tablet into an accurate GPS data collector

Trimble R1

In the professional and industrial spheres, we have consistently seen consumer grade devices make their way into everyday use on jobs. Their ease of operability, multitude of applications, and small size has made smartphones, tablets, and small laptops invaluable business tools. Despite their many advantages, applying them to accurate locational data collection has always posed challenges. These challenges are not made obsolete, but are significantly reduced by the newest addition to the Trimble Geospatial family—the Trimble R1 GNSS receiver.

The standard smartphone has a GPS receiver which serves to provide basic location data for navigation and other standard applications (such as guiding your route home). Maybe you’ve noticed that many times your device will tell you to turn right in 400 ft. when you are already making the turn. It is a drawback most of us take in stride, and adjust for in our day to day operations of phones and other smart devices. This particular drawback has rendered most smart devices useless in the collection of accurate location data. Though they might be able to provide accurate location to within about 20-50 feet, if you need sub-meter accuracy, you would typically need a much more industry specific (and much more expensive) tool.

For half or a quarter the cost of some of its locational equals, the R1 GNSS Receiver effectively achieves sub-meter accuracy, and lends its capabilities to a wider range of applications than a simple smart phone alone. In this blog, we will address how it works and what types of professional applications are most suited for its use.

So… How Does It Work?

The Trimble R1 GNSS Receiver “partners” with your smartphone, tablet or laptop to provide an accurate GPS position to within 2-3 feet (sub-meter accuracy) of an asset. The R1 simply takes over the “location services” on your device and provides it with an accurate GPS position. The R1 can achieve sub-meter accuracy in real time using either SBAS/WAAS or the new Trimble RTX correction service.

The R1 will work with ANY application running on any of the compatible devices (iOS, Android, WEHH, and Windows 7 or greater), AND it will also work with all current Trimble MGIS software including TerraSync, TerraFlex, and Positions for ArcPad/Mobile. If you run the R1 with one of the Trimble software solutions, then you also have the ability to post-process to sub-meter accuracy.

The R1 is designed to achieve sub-meter accuracy in real time using SBAS/WAAS, RTX, or VRS Network.

The R1 collects data by whichever means you choose to use—perhaps a free or inexpensive application on your smart phone or tablet, or more complex software from the manufacturer or another vendor on your laptop. The detail of the data collection relies on a multitude of combined elements, the R1 itself providing the more accurate locational data needed to supplement items like photos of terrain, assets, infrastructure, or large properties.

Although the R1 can connect and communicate with almost any third part app, when the R1 is combined with the new Trimble TerraFlex on your smart device or tablet/laptop, you have a complete low cost “mapping grade” solution that is perfect for municipalities, state agencies, environmental engineering firms, etc…

With TerraFlex and the R1 you can easily collect detailed attributes about your assets (point, lines, and polygons) which you can then easily export to ESRI shape file, Geodatabase, Google Earth, etc…

HowDoesItWorkThe R1 is about the size of a phone or walkie-talkie, which means that just like your smartphone, you can carry it in your pocket when in the field. The design and size make it imminently portable, and suitable for carrying into areas where larger equipment would be prohibitive, or perhaps even damaged by terrain. For a full breakdown of the features, please visit the official Trimble page for the R1 receiver.

Though extremely attractive for a variety of reasons, the R1 is not a substitute for most of the leading mapping and GIS products currently on the market—it is instead a great tool for industries who have locational needs to within a few feet, without needing down to the decimeter or centimeter level accuracy. Which brings us to our next section…

…Who Benefits most from the new Trimble R1 GNSS Receiver?

Though anyone with locational needs will benefit from the Trimble R1 receiver, we have identified a few industries that would immediately be able to apply its myriad uses in a beneficial way.

Law Enforcement, Fire Departments and First Responders

LawEnforcementAn important aspect of each of these is that they rely heavily on their ability to communicate usable, real-time data from their location to their base of operations. The R1 allows their smart devices to capture sub-meter accuracy locational information which they can then post or send in real-time to their station or other in-field personnel. In the case of firefighters, they would be able to communicate within a matter of moments changes that can have a real effect on their fighting a fire. Being able to communicate wind changes and exact locations to redirect personnel can mean the difference between devastation and success. A Sheriff’s Deputy or Highway Patrol officer does not need backup within 400 feet of their location; they need to exactly report where they need assistance to ensure that the situation is contained quickly. A first responder who needs to direct a chopper to land in difficult or uncommon terrain needs to ensure that the locational information for safe landing is provided to the pilot in the most time-effective, and accurate manner.

Property Managers or Large Property Maintenance Crews

PropertyManagersThe manager of a Homeowner’s Association or golf course needs to know the location of each irrigation controller, sprinkler system, tee, restroom and aesthetic asset on the property to ensure maintenance is performed. Working with a map application (such as Google Maps), or Trimble TerraFlex, the R1 can provide locational data on each asset to be stored and provided to multiple maintenance crews and individuals.

Property managers can use the R1 to map their assets in much the same way—collecting data on the location of everything from their irrigation systems to community pools to allow stress-free maintenance from both on-site and contracted parties. A mapped location for an asset needing maintenance can simply be texted directly to the contractor who can use their phone’s GPS to find the location without stepping foot inside the office during sometimes limited business hours.

Real Estate Developers or Agents

RealEstateLarge residential real estate in many ways poses some of the same challenges as a large commercial property—you still must know the location of the property’s assets for maintenance and initial—or continuing development. Logging locational data of irrigation, cleanouts, and property characteristics can be useful in navigating a large residential property, as well as being able to provide incredibly accurate information to your contractor, developer or real estate agent. Everyone needs to know where to find things—and usually they need to find them quickly. The real time output provide by the Trimble R1 ensures that the person on the ground has the immediate ability to report back locational findings and data to ensure each transaction, tour and development goes smoothly with whoever the client may be.

With its lower price point, the R1 can now be introduced to many industries where more accurate locational tools were in prior years cost-prohibitive. We are excited to introduce the Trimble line of products to new potential customers and are eager to see how this product reshapes current practices!

If you would like more information about the features, strengths and limitations of the new Trimble R1 GNSS Receiver, please comment or send a quick email to We are happy to answer any of your questions, and provide a demo of this exciting new product.


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