Sarasota company’s product controls and connects golf carts (Jan 19)

January 19, 2015 – It’s the next-best thing to self-driving cars.

A Sarasota-based maker of systems that connect golf carts and other low-speed vehicles has a new product that:

Gives businesses the ability to know where each of its carts are geographically and if they are operating correctly, to control their speed in various locations and, if necessary, stop them altogether for safety or security reasons.

Gives customers a wealth of information with a 10-inch color touchscreen, from two-way communications, to directions to a destination, to announcements about upcoming events and even to specials offered at nearby restaurants.

And the company, GPS Industries LLC, has landed a big initial customer for its Visage system — the 7,000-acre Casa de Campo resort in the Dominican Republic.

There, 80 four-passenger golf carts made by Georgia-based Club Car are equipped with GPSI’s Visage Resort Edition system. More will be equipped with the system as the 41-year-old resort upgrades its 300-cart fleet, said Ben Porter, GPSI CEO.

Because the resort does not have shuttles, it instead supplies guests and employees with golf carts.

They have a lot of ground to cover. The resort on the Dominican Republic’s southeastern coast includes a 245-acre shooting center, a polo and equestrian club, a tennis center, a yacht club and its own artisans’ village, Altos de Chavon, modeled on a 16th century Mediterranean village.

The 6-year-old GPSI developed its products for the golf industry, and now controls fleets of carts and keeps players informed at major courses such as Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, Arizona; The Polo Club in Boca Raton; the Congressional Country Club in Maryland; and Trump National Doral Miami.

Although Casa de Campo has 90 holes of championship golf, GPSI’s system will be used by guests at its resort or living in its villas to get around the huge property established on the site of a sugar plantation by the Gulf & Western Industries Inc., according to the resort’s website.

“It is the launch of a new commercial segment for GPSI and our exclusive partner, Club Car, that expands our collective fleet management and telematics into nongolf applications and is GPSI’s introduction into additional commercial opportunities,” Porter said in a statement.

Those opportunities include master-planned communities, college campuses, military installations and manufacturing plants, he said.

The system also is helping to sell real estate. It can display an on-screen overview of a property as a golf cart passes it.

The GPSI equipment, installed at the Club Car factory, can cost as little as $15 per car per month, depending on what services the customer wants, Porter said.

Porter describes those GPSI services as “channels,” and the company does begin to sound a bit like a fledgling media empire.

“GPSI’s Visage Media Network represents the largest connected audience of golfers at courses worldwide. Sponsored content is featured on more than 25,000 screens, with nearly 40 million page views monthly,” according to a GPSI statement.

Sending all that data wirelessly takes some infrastructure, though. The company says it uses Wi-Fi to deliver larger files, such as video or large graphic files. The vehicles report their locations and communicate with the Visage management software via cellular networks.

The company, which has 40 employees in its Sarasota office at 1074 N. Orange Ave. and 30 employees in 14 countries, with offices in Austin, Texas, Great Britain and Hong Kong, is clearly not done growing.

It says it expects 35 percent annual growth this year, compared with 2014, and is developing applications to enable users to stay connected with their social media and professional networks while creating, managing and sharing content.

How better to celebrate a great vacation or a great golf score than to post it on Facebook?


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