Global positioning system components made by Auckland technology company Rakon are helping University of Otago researchers track albatrosses around the sub-Antarctic islands.

A university team has worked with engineers at Rakon to develop a new generation of wildlife tracking tags, which are attached to the birds. Rakon manufactures crystal oscillators used in telecommunications infrastructure, smartphones and GPS devices.

The NZX-listed company said tags developed through the project weighed less than 5g, lasted for more than a year and used 10,000 times less power than conventional GPS modules.

Marketing manager Justin Maloney said the company developed the radio frequency technology for the module, which included one of the firm's temperature compensated crystal oscillators (TCXOs).


"While it's not exactly our core business, we've really welcomed the opportunity to assist the university with the fantastic work they are doing in helping these and other endangered species," said Rakon managing director Brent Robinson.

Maloney said the company gained no monetary benefit from being involved in the project, but it helped the firm learn about the end use of its products.

Once the next phase of the project was completed the research programme would be extended to include whales and other endangered marine mammals, Rakon said.

Otago University researchers have also collaborated with the Department of Conservation and scientists at Niwa on the Ministry of Science and Innovation-funded project.

Rakon, which exports its products, said this month that it would lose about $20 million in cash earnings during its current financial year because of the strength of the New Zealand dollar.