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New Devices Help Find Lost Pets

Thanks to FoxBusiness for this article. Need to Know Where Your Dog or Car is? A Host of Devices Will Tell You Donna Fuscaldo FOXBusiness...

Joy  |  Apr 17th 2008


Thanks to FoxBusiness for this article.

Need to Know Where Your Dog or Car is? A Host of Devices Will Tell You

Donna Fuscaldo
FOXBusiness

From cell phones to wristbands to handheld devices, a host of companies are launching personal GPS locators that can find everything from a dog to a car.

While GPS or global positioning satellite technology has been around for years, advances in the technology and consumers acceptance are spawning a new market for relatively cheap GPS locators.

GPS is growing into a massive category,” said Kate Shevack, president of Zoombak, a New York City GPS-locator company.

Zoombak makes three GPS-locator devices targeted towards pets and consumers. Its products used Assisted GPS, a technology that melds GPS satellite positioning and mobile-phone networks to provide a faster and more accurate location than traditional GPS. The technology also enables a user to get a text message or email of the location of the person, car or pet at any given time. More than one user can receive the alerts.

Zoombaks pet locator, which can be bought at PetSmart, can be set up to alert you when your pet leaves a safety zone and helps you locate your pets whereabouts by viewing the movements of your pet via the Internet on a map, which updates every few minutes.

It’s essentially a GPS device in a pouch you attach to the dog collar,” said Shevack, noting the water-resistant pouch only weighs 2.5 ounces, but is durable enough to fit a dogs rugged lifestyle. A dog is lost every three seconds. Its a very relevant, beneficial product for members of your extended family.

The GPS device costs $199 and the monthly service fee to monitor your pet ranges from $9.99 for buying time in six month allotments to $14.99 for pay as you go.

Zoombaks car monitor works on the same premise but can either be hardwired into a car or placed in any automobile. The device is targeted toward parents that want to know when their teenage driver arrives at a destination. As soon as the car arrives at the destination, a text message or email will alert will be sent. The car locator sells for $249 at Zoombak.com, BestBuy.com or Circuit City and has the same monthly service fees. The universal product is more light weight and can fit in a bag or on a person. That one also sells for $199.

What these devices are doing igoing beyond GPS and linking to your cell phone. Its providing the immediacy of text alert or through email, said Shevack.

Kajeet, the Bethesda, Md.-based pre-paid cell phone company targeted at kids, is also using Assisted GPS technology, but is incorporating it into its cell phones. Kajeets phone locator service lets users view a map or satellite picture of the phones current location if the phone is turned on.

The service, which is $9.99 a month on top of the price of the phone, lets you preset five times a day when you want to be informed — via email or text message — where the phone is. Kajeet, which is trying to drive adoption of this technology, is offering the service for free for the first three months.

Daniel Neal, founder and CEO of Kajeet, said the company waited until now to launch the service because consumers are becoming more comfortable with GPS. He said in the past there were concerns about anybody being able to locate a phone, which could raise security and privacy issues. To combat that, Kajeet incorporated a pin number that needs to be entered before a person can log in to the Web site to locate the phone.

Its a complicated and sophisticated technology,” said Neal, noting that a lot of companies rushed into the market without taking into account privacy and security issues with the services.

Laipac Tech, out of Ontario, which makes GPS-tracking devices largely for the commercial markets, will start selling a wrist product this fall. The wrist GPS device, which will sell for $390 is targeted to the law enforcement market, but can also be used for sports enthusiasts and anyone else who wants to track a person. The device works inside and outside and can only be removed by being physically cut.

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