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GPS Trackers Find Novel Applications

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the where-did-i-put-that-eggo dept.


Pickens writes "Inexpensive GPS devices like the Zoombak (which costs just $200 plus $10 a month) have becomes so prevalent that some people are using them routinely to keep tabs on their most precious possessions. Kathy Besa has a Zoombak attached to the collar of her 5-year-old beagle, Buddy. If Buddy wanders more than 20 feet from the house, she gets a text message on her phone that says, 'Buddy has left the premises.' The small size made possible by chip advances over the last two or three years is enabling many novel uses of GPS tracking. An art collector in New York uses one when he transports million-dollar pieces, a home builder is putting them on expensive appliances to track them if they disappear from construction sites, a drug company is using them after millions of dollars in inventory turned up missing, and a mobile phone company is hiding them in some cellphone boxes to catch thieves."

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GPS bug detector? (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027538)

Ok, say I'm paranoid. Is there anything on the market that can detect these devices?

Re:GPS bug detector? (5, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027606)

GPS is passive so probably not. You might be able to detect it sending but if it uses GSM or the old pager network you'd be flooded with noise.

You could (if you are that paranoid) block GPS traffic. [] []

Re:GPS bug detector? (1)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028410)

You could (if you are that paranoid) block GPS traffic.
Why not block cell traffic too? []

Re:GPS bug detector? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23028508)

Too, why not cell traffic block?

Re:GPS bug detector? (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028436)

Though GPS as a system is passive, GPS receivers themselves are NOT completely passive. They use superheterodyne receivers ( which produce a detectable radio frequency radiation (and at a fixed frequency).

You'll need a fairly sensitive radio to detect it from more than several centimeters, but it's certainly possible.

Re:GPS bug detector? (4, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028768)

... which is how radar detector detectors worked. :)

    I haven't used a radar detector in a long time, because in my area they were using switched radar units. I had a better chance of visually spotting a speed trap than detecting it first. One thing I had observed though was, some of my radar detectors would have false alarms because of other radar detectors. Some of my friends and I had tested it, where we'd turn our units on and off to see who's would set off false alarms based on who's units. We concluded that yes, some units would make other units beep that there was a radar source present.

    The same applied to some home alarms, and automatic doors. I had more false alarms than real detection, which was another good reason to stop using them.

    Building a GPS receiver detector would be a bit trickier, because the designs are so varied. I would think the best way to detect one would be a wide radio spectrum analyzer, and a very careful examination of the object you think may have a tracker on it. I believe you'd be looking for the same or similar frequency as the GPS signal is, and you'd always have some signal from the satellites. A very directional antenna may help.

    It was my understanding that every cell phone sold in the last few years had GPS capability for e911 service, although they may disable the GPS service for any user interfaces.

    I found this page [] which says Verizon Wireless has GPS service in all wireless voice devices, to assist 911 operators in finding a victim. I know this isn't exactly true though. My stepson had a medical emergency about a year ago in the car (see my journal). I called 911 from my Verizon Wireless phone. I knew what road I was on, but since I was in the middle of my trip, I wasn't absolutely sure what the last exit I passed was. I gave the road, direction of travel, side of the road I stopped on, and a close reference to the nearby exits. I gave it to them within a couple miles. I was on the side of an interstate, with clear view of the sky in all directions, and there hadn't been any clouds in the sky all day. You can't ask for better reception for GPS.

    We waited 15 minutes, with no callback and no emergency vehicles showing up. I gave up, decided he was stable enough to transport, strapped him back in the car, and drove as fast as I could for help. There was one of the radar speed signs on the side of the road, which flashed 99 as I passed it. I was going for help, and would have been satisfied to get pulled over.

    I found a deputy with a DUI pulled over, and he helped us. He called for an ambulance, and apparently emergency ops didn't know where we were. No one had been dispatched.

Re:GPS bug detector? (4, Informative)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027984)

Ok, say I'm paranoid. Is there anything on the market that can detect these devices?

Use anything that can detect a nearby cell signal. If you think your car is bugged, take it through a few tunnels or parking structures so it re-connects to a cell tower. (turn off you phone first) You can only detect these either by the GPS Local Oscillator (if you know the frequency) or detect them while they re-connect to a cell tower. Detecting the local oscillator of the GPS isn't easy as it isn't strong and is often well shielded. The cell module on the other hand is designed to transmit a signal to a cell tower, but it isn't on all the time. The trick is to make it turn on so you can find it. Causing a signal loss and then returning to cell tower range is a way to get these to announce to a tower, I am here. That's how you find them.

Re:GPS bug detector? (1)

shawn443 (882648) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028140)

Only RMS can detect this. You can find one here [] .

Re:GPS bug detector? (2, Funny)

BForrester (946915) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028362)

I'm going to take a stab in the dark and say "what is a global positioning satellite?"

I'll take "ridiculously easy questions" for 400, Alex.

$200 + $10/mo!?!? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23027540)

Isn't this the goal of RFID, to be able to track all your things.. but much much much cheaper than the zoombak's nutty price.

Re:$200 + $10/mo!?!? (5, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027622)

An RFID tag can't be used to track something very far from the RFID tag reader, let alone globally.

solution: (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028118)

satellite mounted high power rfid readers

i am of course joking but i just scared myself thinking about the spy agency/ military bureaucrats who would actually sign off on this concept

Re:solution: (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028756)

Yes. That thought was pretty scary. Even for you.

Re:$200 + $10/mo!?!? (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027640)

Only if there are RFID detectors within close proximity to the 'package'. RFID would work great in a factory tracking a pallet of parts that goes along a routine path.

If someone steals that pallet then you're SOL. Even if it does pass near another RFID detector that person won't know immediately that it is yours and full of Widget A.

Re:$200 + $10/mo!?!? (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028842)

One of the ideas might be that you have a RFID detector of sufficient power at the exits, so when your pallet of Widget A hits the gate when it's supposed to be heading for storage area C you know something is up.

At $200+$10/month fee, it's definitely cellular in nature and only worth it for *expensive* items, or at least when you know you have a theft problem and catching a relatively few number of thieves would stop a lot of theft.

Like the appliances at job sites problem - Figure $400-800+ each per appliance, with a 'couple times a month' theft problem. 1 recovery would cover the $200 purchase cost plus several months of subscription service. Then there's the sheer satisfaction in catching the criminal who's been robbing you of your livelyhood.

Re:$200 + $10/mo!?!? (2, Informative)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027804)

You've been reading too many nutty conspiracy types about those RFID chips. They're basically just a slightly better barcode, not a movie style locater where someone with a box can pinpoint where you are from halfway across the city.

The box listed above is pretty much the minimum you need for a global tracking system for your stuff. A GPS receiver, battery, and one way pager (the one-way in this case is out! Probably is actually a stripped down cell phone sending SMS messages). It also won't work if the thief brings your stuff inside, and is iffy in cities or around lots of trees. Still, even a few hits could go a long way towards figuring out where your stuff is.

$10 a month seems a bit high for something that's almost never going to send data. I'd prefer something like $0.10 per message (which is pretty outrageous for the amount of data sent) with no fixed cost. Although if you can use the same account for a whole bunch of the receivers (probably not) it might not be so bad.

Keys? (1)

ThatFunkyMunki (908716) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027564)

I wish I could have something like this for my car keys... I lose those damn things all the time!

Re:Keys? (2, Funny)

Xandar01 (612884) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027612)

Need one for my mind, I feel like I am loosing that all the time.

Inexpensive? (4, Insightful)

g_adams27 (581237) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027566)

Inexpensive GPS devices like the Zoombak (which costs just $200 plus $10 a month)

$200 + $120/year? Not "inexpensive" enough for me to stick onto my dog!

Re:Inexpensive? (5, Funny)

TRS80NT (695421) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027770)

Yeah, and that's dog dollars. So that's like what, over $800 a year?

Re:Inexpensive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23028350)

dog dollars ... yet another currency poised to surpass the greenback

Re:Inexpensive? (1)

kvezach (1199717) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028654)

No, you've got it wrong. Dollars are now dog Euros.

Re:Inexpensive? (4, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027894)

Everybody is not you. And jeez, $120 year is not that much when you consider the other costs of keeping a pet: vet bills, cleaning, paying for boarding or sitting when you're on vacation... And that's if you have some mongrel that you just keep for company.

I had this cat I was very fond of. Disappeared one day, and I never found out what happened to him. That was years ago, and I still miss the dude. That experience makes the Zoombak sound pretty cheap.

Re:Inexpensive? (1)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028524)

No kidding. I still miss my dog and he died seven years ago at the ripe old age of 15. He and I literally grew up together.

It's easy to get attached.

Re:Inexpensive? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23028612)

I'm not sure that using GPS to locate the ruined corpse of your beloved pet would really be that satisfying.

Re:Inexpensive? (1)

edmicman (830206) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027988)

Just another thought relating to using it for pets....

I'm all for gadgets and whatnot, but getting a text message saying your dog is more than 20ft away from the house isn't going to do much if he runs into the road and gets hit. There's just not enough time to react. Owners *really* need to monitor their pets, and ideally have them on a leash or enclosed in some area when their outside to keep them safe.

Re:Inexpensive? (4, Informative)

legojenn (462946) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028116)

Owners *really* need to monitor their pets, and ideally have them on a leash or enclosed in some area when their outside to keep them safe.
Spoken like a person with no experience with a beagle or other scent hound. I recently lost a beagle because a window in my house was open an inch. He managed to open the window and vanish. Some dogs are clever and quick. A GPS device might not stop a dog from running into the street, but it might make it easy to track him down instead of walking, biking or driving up and down every bloody street in the neighbourhood screaming the dogs name those rare ocasions he does a runner.

Re:Inexpensive? (4, Funny)

Blimey85 (609949) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028216)

Dog has left the premisses.

Dog is traveling north bound on Cedar Street.

Dog crossing st##$#$@@$$%

Dog no longer moving.

Re:Inexpensive? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028472)

Okay I have a dog and a fenced yard. Guess what. That dog has dug under my fence more than once. I would love to have one of these. It would be I would rather have it tell me when she is under ground level so I could catch her digging.

Re:Inexpensive? (2, Informative)

edmicman (830206) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028582)

Just a follow up reply. Yes, I have a dog, and I still don't buy the excuses. Ehhhh, maybe it's because the wife is a vet and we're more cautious/overprotective of the dog or something.....but even with a fenced in yard we're pretty much monitoring her while she's out there. Dog digs under the fence? Bury the fence. I'd bet 90% of the troubles dogs can get into can be prevented by owners paying attention to whats going on. Just my $.02 :-P

Re:Inexpensive? (0)

jasontromm (39097) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028032)

But it might be worth it to keep track of my 4-year old son who has a tendency to wander off when he's playing outside.

Re:Inexpensive? (0)

Blimey85 (609949) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028246)

If you need one of these to keep tabs on your 4 year old son, you should really call CPS and explain your situation. I hear they have programs for parents like you.

Jesus people. Is it really so hard to WATCH your kids? Relying on something like this to keep your kid from wandering into a street and getting hit and injured or possibly killed isn't going to work. You need to actually supervise your child. This also won't work when your kid falls in the pool and it shorts out.

Honey, where's Billy? Oh I'm sure he's around here somewhere... haven't gotten a page saying he's left.

What the bloody fuck?!?!?!

Re:Inexpensive? (0)

jasontromm (39097) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028306)

I guess it's hard to read humor from just straight text. It's just a joke for crying out loud.

Re:Inexpensive? (0)

Fuji Kitakyusho (847520) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028186)

What does a new dog cost?

Re:Inexpensive? (1)

fifedrum (611338) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028726)

about $2.49 a pound

Re:Inexpensive? (4, Insightful)

value_added (719364) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028202)

Not "inexpensive" enough for me to stick onto my dog!

Seems like a fair comment, but if the dog gets lost, you'll need to figure in the cost of a reward and/or the time and resources required for putting up all those flyers. Then there's those emergency vet bills (if the dog gets into an accident), lawyer and court costs (if the dog bites the good samaritan trying to catch it for you), the loss of mail delivery to your home and cancellation of homeowner's insurance and a lawsuit (if the dog bites the mailman), or, if all goes well and the city finds your dog for you, the animal shelter fees. And this is all assuming it's not your wife's dog, or that you have kids whose questions you need to answer.

Beagles, incidentally, are notorious (bred, actually) for running off to hunt something down they find interesting, and then expecting you to catch up.

GPS sounds like an ideal solution for pet owners.

Re:Inexpensive? (5, Funny)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028618)

Beagles, incidentally, are notorious (bred, actually) for running off to hunt something down they find interesting, and then expecting you to catch up.

It's even better when you have a dog like the one I grew up with. He was half beagle and half border collie. He'd run off, track and chase down whatever it was he was after and then herd the damn thing(s) until you got there.

It didn't even seem to matter what it was - cows, chickens, my little cousin...

Re:Inexpensive? (1)

starm_ (573321) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028250)

DriveOk makes similar units that are a bit less expensive and more mature in their functionality: []

you're a heartless bastard (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23028310)

my dogs (which are the ages of 13, 11, 2) are worth a lot more to me than the $400 a year it will cost me to keep track of them, god forbid they get out. i'll piss away $400 in a weekend. to some of us they're more then justs "pets" and "man's best friend".

and no... i'm not with peta and i eat meat. i just love my mutts.

Re:Inexpensive? (1)

DKP (1029142) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028372)

its less expensive then paying the fine when my dog gets out usually at least once a month

Re:Inexpensive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23028408)

No kidding, I wouldn't pay more than $2.99/lb for a dog.

Unless it was marbled exquisitely.

For civilians (2, Interesting)

Voltan42 (219415) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027576)

They have had tracking devices around for a while now. Are these just the first designed for non-police or non-military?

Insurance (2, Interesting)

e03179 (578506) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027592)

$10 a month? I wonder if I put one in my car if I will get a $10 a month break in my car insurance bill.

Re:Insurance (1)

the_wesman (106427) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028036)

good question - my friend bought a jetta (this was years ago) and the salesdork offered his something - I can't remember what is was called - loadjack or freejack or carjack - but it was, essentially, a GPS unit for the car that could be used in the event it was stolen - I can't remember if the guy hinted that this would provide an insurance break, but it wouldn't seem that far fetched to me


Re:Insurance (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028270)


Yes, that's what it does. If your car is stolen, it can use satellites to relay the position to the Lo-Jack folks.

It's easy to put the system on a car since you can get the 12V 1A power easily and the smoke-detector-sized transmitter isn't adding much weight to the car.

The devices in TFA are probably pager or cellular tech. You can get smaller satellite transmitters but they would be quite expensive. I built one board that's about the size of a Bic lighter and is suitable for implanting into a duck but that's the limit. IIRC, the four prototypes cost the customer $150k. Note that when you send data to a satellite, the satellite also knows the approximate GPS location of the transmitter.

Satellite transmission is always expensive. An eight-byte message costs about $5. (You would use this in an emergency.) Normal traffic is about $1 for the same message.

Re:Insurance (5, Informative)

Blimey85 (609949) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028300)

It's called LoJack and I have it installed in both of my cars. You get a break on your insurance and in the even the vehicle is stolen and not recovered within 30 days you get a refund of the purchase price. However, they have a very good track record of recoveries, usually within a couple hours. I talked with two police officers before buying it and they both said it was great to have. Only works if the police closest to your car have the equipment but it's become standard with most cop shops so that shouldn't be a problem.

They also have an early warning system which I have on one of my cars and it's more annoying than anything. Basically if your car moves without the little box you keep on your key chain being present within the vehicle, you get a phone call / email / or text message (your choice) alerting you. The only problem is you have to change the battery every couple of months or you get false positives.

After having my neighbors truck stolen from right next to my open bedroom window one night, I decided I wanted something more than just a normal alarm (he had an alarm, his truck was locked, we never heard a thing and he never got his truck back) so I went with LoJack.

Re:Insurance (3, Interesting)

cleatsupkeep (1132585) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028854)

Additionally, one of the studies mentioned in Freakonomics was that having LoJack in just some of the cars in a city made cars less likely to get stolen, as you don't know if you are stealing the one with LoJack or not - and car theft rates for the whole city went down. Something like a network effect.

Re:Insurance (1)

redxxx (1194349) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028336)

the name you are looking for is LoJack. Most of the satellite systems, such as OnStar, do this as well.

Re:Insurance (1)

catch23 (97972) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028838)

It would be great for motorcycles! Back in Atlanta, motorcycle theft is pretty rampant. LoJack for motorcycles is pretty expensive, so this is a great solution for inexpensive scooters & mopeds. Also great if you happen to own a moderately expensive carbon fiber bicycle too.

This has absolutely... (5, Funny)

suparjerk (784861) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027594)

... no potential for abuse whatsoever!

Microsoft does the same thing (2, Funny)

katterjohn (726348) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027604)

to their employees. If any of them get to close to things like OSCON, Ballmer comes after them with a chair.

Re:Microsoft does the same thing (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23027676)

Fucking idiot.

What's Wrong? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23027634)

How come there is no first post? I'm confused.

Millions of dollars in inventory turned up missing (3, Funny)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027686)

Mahalik: She told me that she heard a zombie going through her trash the other day. The next morning, she turned up missing.

C. J.: What? Okay, back up. How in the hell do you "turn up missing"?

Mahalik: 'Cause nobody knows where you are when they realize you ain't there!

C. J.: So you telling me that you can appear and disappear at the same time.

Mahalik: No, man. You can't appear and disappear at the same time. The bitch ain't David Copperfield!

C. J.: Mmm. No, no. But you can't be gone from one place and show up somewhere else entirely. So when you turn up, you're never missing. And when you're missing, you never turn up.

Mahalik: Unless... you a zombie.

C. J.: Damn! Hey, that's some plausible shit right there. You should blog about that.

Mahalik: I'm gonna put that on MySpace.

C. J.: You do that!

Old people (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23027722)

This is a great opportunity for nursing homes to track old people when they wonder off

Re:Old people (4, Interesting)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027998)

actually, the nursing home my grandma lives in uses this sort of thing for their advanced alzheimer's patients. they implemented it after one of them wandered out last winter and died from exposure.

Re:Old people (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028738)

actually, the nursing home my grandma lives in uses this sort of thing for their advanced alzheimer's patients. they implemented it after one of them wandered out last winter and died from exposure.

Many nursing homes do that. Instead of the cost of a cell subscription and tracking, and recharging batteries, they typically simply use it for perimeter control. It works like store anti-shoplifting tags. They put them in the shoes, so if the shoes try to cross a mat at the door, the alarm at the door goes off notifying the staff.

I used to do this stuff (5, Interesting)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027736)

I work for what's left of a company that actually managed to go bust developing this stuff.

We faced several challenges with the technology. Power consumption gave us ulcers, as did mobile network coverage. This is a non-issue in the city, but just wait until you're out of town.

GPS wanders around enough from fix to fix, even with WAAS, that it can be tricky to compare fixes to detect movement, or to track movement of less than 50 meters. Oh, and the GPS needs to be able to hear satellite signals. Good luck on that.

Finally, once you have a fix back at your server, you need to make it meaningful to the user. They do not generally want a bare latitude and longitude. They want to know what street their car is on. When the parents want to know if the kids take the car too far from home, they want to enter a street address, not a latitude and longitude. This is harder to get right than it looks.

Favourite application: tracking sub-prime used cars so repo men can find them.


Re:I used to do this stuff (2, Informative)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028130)

Thanks to Google maps half the work is done.
It does take bare latitude and longitude coordinates and displays you a map.

Re:I used to do this stuff (1)

PetoskeyGuy (648788) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028144)

Very cool. I do this right now. We track races with the stuff. Presenting nice data for the user is definitely the hardest part of the equation. Oddly enough all of our custom hardware is likely to be replaced by your average cell phone in a few years.

If you ever feel like chatting about things im me and say hi!

From another GPS data slave... ;)

Re:I used to do this stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23028338)

Wouldn't it be extremely easy to convert long/lat to streets using the Google Maps API? I thought this was possible using geocoding, maybe it only works the other way around. (Street to longitude/latitude).

Re:I used to do this stuff (2, Insightful)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028840)

GPS wanders around enough from fix to fix, even with WAAS, that it can be tricky to compare fixes to detect movement, or to track movement of less than 50 meters. Oh, and the GPS needs to be able to hear satellite signals. Good luck on that.

Check out the demo of how it works. They only give a location to the nearest intersection. This isn't very useful if your kid was abducted and whisked away into a large apartment complex. You know he is around somewhere, but out of sight. These would be much more useful for recovery of stolen property if in addition to the intersection, it gave the last 100 actual GPS coordinates. From there, you may be able to trace the direction to one block of apartments prior to loss of signal from going indoors. The last 100 fixes before signal loss would be very useful in tracking a stolen pet, child, or BMW.

corepirate nazi execrable violating cease & de (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23027746)

demands from all over the wwworld. they're still counting on most of US being brain dead &/or spineless. the lights are coming up all over now. see you there? let yOUR conscience be yOUR guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. there are still some choices. if they do not suit you, consider the likely results of continuing to follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn, whereas anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.;_ylt=A0WTcVgednZHP2gB9wms0NUE [];_ylt=A9G_RngbRIVHsYAAfCas0NUE [] []

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events. []

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb); []

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones; []

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids; []

& pretending that it isn't happening here; []
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity; []

hiding them in some cellphone boxes? (2, Insightful)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027758)

and a mobile phone company is hiding them in some cellphone boxes to catch thieves

Am I missing something here? Don't mobile phones already have GPS (at least here in the USA)? And unique ID numbers burnt into them? Sure, another always-on GPS device could be handy for as long as the battery lasts (which begs the question of why can the battery last longer in the tiny GPS bug than it lasts in a consumer targeted GPS unit), but it would seem that most mobile phone thefts that could be caught with this GPS bug would be caught and tracked down as soon as the thief or buyer of the stolen property tried to use the phone anyway, and the phone could either be made useless (greatly reducing the incentive for theft) or let working (to help track down whoever has it, just as the GPS bug would do).

This sounds like something that was invented by the Department of Redundancy Department.

Re:hiding them in some cellphone boxes? (2, Insightful)

daranz (914716) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028018)

I'm assuming they're shipping cellphones that haven't been sold yet, and don't have any numbers tied to them (and so, they cannot send data over the network). Even if they had GPS receivers, they would have to be configured for the network, and then reset at destination. Even if this only involved inserting a sim card, it'd still be a bother, especially if you had to recharge the phones before putting them up for sale

Having a device that you can move between boxes as you ship them might be easier to do.

Re:hiding them in some cellphone boxes? (1)

hguorbray (967940) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028086)

2 things:

1. the GPS trackers are probably "always on" whereas phones in the box are turned off -this allows tracking of things like a case or pallet of cellphones that go missing from a truck or warehouse.....and end up in a flea market somewhere.

2. cellphone 'gps-like location service' is done by tower triangulation and won't work where there is no reception -this is why GPS on cell is still more useful -if you are lost in the backwoods cell triangulation will probably do you no good whereas GPS could save your life.

I'm just sayin'

Re:hiding them in some cellphone boxes? (1)

Blimey85 (609949) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028442)

The problem with this is that if you are going to have access to a pallet of cellphones to steal, you're probably also going to have a truck to move them in. Then if you are smart, you've prepped said truck to block any and all signals from within the trailer which means this thing won't work.

Similar to how expensive cars get stolen and can't be easily tracked with things like LoJack. It's very easy to convert a trailer into a mobile Faraday (sp?) cage. Would probably even easier just to use cheap radio that could transmit enough watts to block everything. That too would be mobile so you could take it from truck to truck.

It always amuses me when a chop shop gets busted due to LoJack. I heard about that happening in Olympia, WA when I lived just north of Seattle. You'd think if they are smart enough to steal really nice cars, they'd be smart enough to setup something to block LoJack and the like.

Re:hiding them in some cellphone boxes? (3, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028284)

and a mobile phone company is hiding them in some cellphone boxes to catch thieves

Am I missing something here? Don't mobile phones already have GPS (at least here in the USA)? And unique ID numbers burnt into them?

Yes, mobile phones (some of them) have GPS. Yes, mobile phones have unique ID numbers. What you are missing is that "mobile phones" are not the same as "mobile phones in boxes" - as the former (generally) have their battery charged and installed and are powered up, while the latter are inert and those fancy functions don't work.

it would seem that most mobile phone thefts that could be caught with this GPS bug would be caught and tracked down as soon as the thief or buyer of the stolen property tried to use the phone anyway

Using the phones built in features allows you to catch a single end user - once the phone has trickled from thief to fence to dealer to end user. Using a GPS bug you can track the phone through the entire chain and catch the guys at the start of the chain rather than catching the guys at the end and working up. From a LEO and a Loss Prevention point of view, this is much more efficient and effective.

Dear Ms. Besa (2, Funny)

Sensi (64510) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027802)

For $200 I will sell you a really nice leash. That will stop that pesky beagle from getting away.

Re:Dear Ms. Besa (1)

AdamTrace (255409) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027846)

I'm selling mine for $180!

Re:Dear Ms. Besa (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028094)

While I appreciate the funny in your post, I immediately thought "gee, I'd love one of these for MY dog" when I saw the article. My dog's a relaxed quiet animal until she gets a chance at an open door, like when a visitor comes over and one of us isn't there. Lily can clear a 6' fence without slowing down, and can run just under 30 miles an hour for an amazingly long time (until she's distracted by a cat or a garbage can.) If I see her escape I have a chance, if I can get on my road bike, because then I might be able to track her when she's running through people's yards, but finding out where she's gotten to when I'm not right there to see her go would be awfully nice.

Re:Dear Ms. Besa (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028730)

exactly. My brothers Husky had the habit of opening the Sliding door and running out. Most of the time he just wanted to run but a couple of times we did have to chase him down.

The worst was when he bolted one night during deer hunting season. He chewed through his choker collar that night. part of it was still on his chain. a GPS locater that night would have made us all a bit happier.

W.T.F. ? (4, Funny)

Kartoffel (30238) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027820)

It's funny how the Times' editors felt it necessary to punctuate each letter in "G.P.S.". What is this, the Man from U.N.C.L.E.? Maybe some year they'll realize that GPS is regular everyday stuff. You know, like A.T.M. machines and D.V.D. players.

Re:W.T.F. ? (1)

disciple8959 (1141583) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028084)

This sounds more like a sales pitch... kind of cool, but a sales pitch nonetheless.

Re:W.T.F. ? (2, Funny)

tomtomtom777 (1148633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028150)

You know, like A.T.M. machines and D.V.D. players.

A.T.M. machines? What are they? Machines that make Automated Teller Machines or something? Not so regular where I come from...

Re:W.T.F. ? (1)

Kartoffel (30238) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028244)

They're those machines that ask for your P.I.N. number ;)

Re:W.T.F. ? (1)

onkelonkel (560274) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028288)

De-acronym-ization? (is that a cromulent word?)

Any grammar nerds/nazis know how a word stops being an acronym? I've always wondered how S.C.U.B.A became scuba and L.A.S.E.R. became laser.

Quick read at work (1)

Lunch2000 (701764) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027838)

I read this as

  GPS Trackers Find Novell Applications

My thinking was that it was some kind of subtle joke...

APRS leading the way (3, Interesting)

Average (648) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027954)

I've been wondering how long this would take to get into a more public role. I've had ham radio based APRS ( [] ) installed in my cars for a while. When I show people a publicly available map of my travels, reaction ranges from salivating impressed (it's probably been ham radio's last "killer app"), to absolute horror ("you mean, you don't care if people know where you are?").

But, I think a lot of people would willingly turn on such a feature (say, on a mobile phone with a GPS chip and a GPRS connection.

Re:APRS leading the way (4, Interesting)

tomtomtom777 (1148633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028108)

We're developing a system which makes this very easy and free (except phone bill) on (or on your mobile), and we've noticed that people are rarely bothered by the privacy issue. The coolness of seeing yourself and your friends live on the map tends to outweigh paranoia.

Re:APRS leading the way (1)

backwardMechanic (959818) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028672)

But, I think a lot of people would willingly turn on such a feature (say, on a mobile phone with a GPS chip and a GPRS connection.

Sadly, that's the problem. Once 'most people' already use self-tracking, it becomes suspicious not to. I don't have anything to hide (honest), but I want to make sure some people have the option of not being tracked. Some of them want to steal cars. Others want to make political protests. I think it's worth putting up with the former to allow the latter.

It's still a neat gadget though...

So it works under cars? (4, Funny)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 6 years ago | (#23027964)

According to the article. I am a little surprised by this, because steel is quite good at blocking RF, and those satellites are up there, not down in the gutter. I am sufficiently nerdish sometimes to check the accuracy of my own GPS, and it can degrade very badly in cities. It's also a fact that the kind of places that get the best GPS reception are often the least good for cell phone reception, and vice versa. The benefits of using it for long distance tracking like stolen paintings are obvious - except that they probably travel in a windowless van - but tracking a beagle to a few metres seems a little unreliable.

Anyway, I read the article to our beagle and asked her opinion. She points out that beagles do not run away, they are called away on urgent tracking business. She feels that any human that hangs out with beagles and wants to attach tracking boxes to them is a distrustful person who possibly lacks the right spiritual qualities. She also reminds me that she can detect a beagle treat coming out of the bag across three fields, and that in any case anyone who has trouble with beagles taking off is simply not taking them for sufficiently long walks. She thinks I should notify the ASPCA before relations completely break down between this unfortunate beagle and its lazy, distrustful owner.

Keeping track of photos (1)

AaronW (33736) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028138)

I got a GPS unit that connects to my camera. I use it to keep track of my photos by embedding the location inside the EXIF information in the photo. That way if I lose it, I know where to go to find it again. Oh, wait. Nevermind. Though it is useful for geocaching.

Tiny GPS For Cat Tracking? (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028204)

Does anyone know of a tiny GPS logger that could be used for tracking cats?

I have a co-worker who has a couple of outdoor cats, and one often goes on trips for a day or longer, not coming home. When he comes back she wonders where he has been (and the rest of us are a little curious as this seems to happen relatively often).

I would be great to have a little GPS logger that would just keep track of where he had been so we could try to see what he's been up to. The device mentioned in the article is interested, but it's quite expensive (due to the active nature requiring the monthly subscription). The other devices I've seen are either custom built or not very small (more like standard GPS handheld size).

Does anyone know of any small (small enough to put on a grown cat) and inexpensive (under $200) boxes that would fit the bill?

Pet tracking would be quite a bit of fun, especially with pets that seem like they might have a large home range they run around. Heck, it's geocaching with a moving target!

Cat Cam (1)

MonkeyBoyo (630427) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028376)

While it is not GPS, you can attach a Cat Cam [] to a cat to get a time lapse record of where the cat has been.

Re:Tiny GPS For Cat Tracking? (1)

ObjetDart (700355) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028822)

I don't think these exist (yet), because the GPS + cellular hardware necessary is still too big and heavy for a typical cat to carry around on its neck.

There is a radio-based cat tracker called the CatLocator [] , but it won't keep a real time log of where your cat has been. It's only good when you need to find the cat...and then you have to walk around like a dork with big attenna and a box that goes "doot...doot...doot... doot doot doot doot"

Personal tracking/emergency notification devices (1)

Liam (39474) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028218)

For providing people the ability to summon help or provide their whereabouts, there are things like SPOT [] which is less expensive than the system mentioned in the article, both for purchase and maintenance. For purely emergency use, the Personal Locator Beacons [] are more expensive to purchase but require no service fee. However, there's no way to send non-emergency or "I'm here" messages.

Trackers find Novell's applications (1)

spk037 (1030378) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028256)

Im just glad someone found Novell's applications. I haven't seen any in years............... *chirp *chirp........... thank you ladies and gentlemen, I'll be here all week

Ham radio alternative (3, Interesting)

Rorschach1 (174480) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028280)

People have been doing this stuff in the ham radio world for years - it's called APRS [] for Automated Packet Reporting System. I run a small business ( [] ) developing low-cost hardware for it.

The advantage of using dumb old radios is that you can operate independent of any fixed infrastructure, so it's usable even where you don't have cell coverage.

Tracking something small like a dog (I've had inquiries about kangaroos, too) introduces the problem of antenna placement, though. APRS is typically used on the 2-meter band, which means a quarter-wave vertical antenna is half a meter long. I did once put a passive data logger on my cat [] , and found that she roams a little more widely than I thought, but that doesn't really count.

The advantage of relatively low frequencies and high transmit power is that you can cover a radius of 20 miles from one mountaintop digipeater (equivalent to a cell site), and they're not difficult to make solar powered.

There's a nationwide digipeater network in the US, and most of Europe is covered as well, along with much of New Zealand, Australia, and many other countries. I think there are at least two APRS-capable satellites on orbit too, though PCSAT-1 is dying. Internet gateways are all over the place, so you can map APRS stations online [] , and not have to maintain any receive-side hardware of your own.

I'm constantly surprised by the applications people come up with for this stuff. The most recent I heard was someone with a cable TV company who found that he could drive around and transmit at low power every couple of seconds and use a receiver back at the headend to plot ingress leaks in the cable system.

Add to that the fact that you can do two-way text messaging, weather, and telemetry, and it's more than worth the hassle of taking a simple multiple-choice license exam. It's this sort of thing that's going to save ham radio (if anything can) - talking to people around the world just doesn't interest people as much these days, when it's so easy to do on the Internet or the phone.

free advertising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23028282)

Nice zoombak plug! (which costs JUST $200 plus $10 a month)

If you would like to better hide your advertising in an 'article', don't use JUST when describing the price. It makes it sound like an infomercial.

Re:free advertising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23028412)

A nice plant perhaps from the Liberty Media conglomerate [] , perhaps they want to sell advertising on your dog too.

Zoombak Ad (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028444)

These applications aren't that interesting for geeks, even if the basic tech is. This story is just an ad for Zoombak.

sweet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23028514)

This sounds great for keeping tabs on my future wife...

Uses T-Mobile, so it's essentially useless (1)

Radi-0-head (261712) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028550)

It's unfortunate that this device is hobbled by the crappiest network in the US. They should have picked Verizon or AT&T.

Considering it's a beagle.. (1)

TheHawke (237817) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028586)

He's going to rack up a helluva SMS bill considering they love to roam.

Not new (1)

starm_ (573321) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028710)

The more mature and somewhat cheaper DriveOk [] devices have been available for a while now.

Galileo (1)

MrSteveSD (801820) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028784)

The signals from the Galileo Positioning System are supposed to be able to penetrate buildings and that would be a vast improvement over GPS. It's not ready yet of course.

Another enabling technology - oh boy (1)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 6 years ago | (#23028808)

They make this little device sound so cute and fluffy; how could you not like something that lets you find your lost dog?

But what they've actually developed is a small, inexpensive GPS tracking device. Small enough and cheap enough so that almost anyone can track almost anything. As production ramps up they'll get even smaller and cheaper.

I can imagine all the fun and thrills: track your kids, your spouse, your employees - what fun! This isn't some cheap RFID solution; this little beauty will find them across town or in another state. I'll bet our government would love to embed these little goodies in every new car produced (without saying anything). After 10 years or so they'd be able to track virtually every vehicle in real time; with that ability it'd only take a little time for creative bureaucrats to find ways to monetize the data.

Hmmm; distance / time calculations are cheap; car 298576893 covered 1.4 miles on I-15 in 58 seconds so look up the registered owner and mail them an automatic speeding ticket. Don't forget to also automatically notify their insurance company; they'll pay well for this data. Heck, the little tracking device could also forward marketable data such as what radio station is tuned in, what CD is playing, how many people in the car, etc.

Hey; that would be pretty easy - we've already got switches in the seats to detect occupants for seat belt chimes and airbag control, so if the GPS location is a car pool lane and there's not enough people in the car - mail the registered owner an automatic ticket for a carpool violation.

Systems like these NEVER make any mistakes, you know - and if you're doing nothing wrong you've got nothing to worry about, right? And just imagine how those bureaucrats would love to see that extra revenue coming in - and what they're likely to do to make this wet dream come true.

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