US$250 people tracking device
UPDATED September 15, 2006 GPS loggers are not new, not rare and for those in the know, such devices are easily built and can offer real-time tracking. Traditionally costing US$500 to US$800 to buy, plus wireless carrier's services and fees, they required a substantial outlay that ensured you needed a good reason to go that route. All of which gives the TrackStick "killer app" charisma - it offers a one-off, no-fees US$250 cost (better if you shop), lightweight (42 grams), easy-to-hide (10.4 x 3.0 x 2.2 cm) candy bar size and an ease-of-use that offers plug-n-play covert tracking to the mass market for the first time. The TrackStick uses GPS technology to record location and altitude at pre-set time intervals, then produces detailed mapping and 3D satellite imaging of its exact location and speed for the last seven days (via Google Earth) when plugged into a PC USB port. The TrackStick will be seen by many as the perfect solution for obtaining detailed information on the movements of a spouse suspected of straying, an employee or driver suspected of goofing off or monitoring where your children are spending their time and how fast they drive the family sedan on Saturday night. Manufacturer Telespial Systems is seeking international distributors apply here.
The TrackStick records its own location, time, date, speed, heading and altitude at preset intervals. Unfortunately, the limitation is not in how much data it can store - the location recorder's 1Mb of memory holds up to 4,000 records and is more than adequate for the time the batteries allow. When you've retrieved the Trackstick from its hiding place, the info it has logged can be downloaded to a PC via a USB 1.1-compatible interface using included Windows software.
The batteries last 16 hours in full power mode and 5-7 days in low power mode and it's all configurable via your PC. Indeed it can store months of travel information and it's surprising that it's not slightly larger to accommodate more than the two AAA batteries it employs.
TrackStick comes with free software that integrates with most third-party mapping programs and services like Mapquest.com, VirtualEarth.com, maps.google.com and Microsoft Streets and Trips so it's possible to follow TrackStick movements almost anywhere.
TrackStick uses the Global Positioning System to calculate its own position anywhere worldwide to within fifteen meters. The recorded position history can be output to any PC's USB port in .rtf, .xls, .html, or .kml formats.
Finally, might we suggest that before you procure one of these babies, you check your local laws to ensure you're not breaking them – in many countries, quite reasonably, the tracking of a person without their permission is illegal.
Similarly, this is not a toy – but it comes kinda close – the reason it needs a lot of battery power is because tracking satellites isn't easy and hence it requires a clear view of the sky and though it'll read through glass and plastic, won't read through metal such as the car roof. In other words, if you're intending to hide it in a car, it'll need to be on the dashboard or the parcel shelf.
If the Trackstick can be hidden on a human being, it will not only read through clothing or a backpack, it'll also read out altitude as well as position. Though it's only accurate to within 22 metres height, it'd certainly give you a very good idea of which floor of a building it was on, providing of course, it could see the satellites.