GPS Wishlist

In my last blog entry, I mentioned I would discuss a GPS wishlist. First a backgrounder. I had to disable my Mitsubishi 3000GT's after-market alarm system (with an engine cut off switch) because both remote controls died.

One died because it got wet (fell in a lake) and the other just died for no reason. Of course the company went out of business, so I couldn't order replacement remotes.

The whole point of my spending $600 in 1995 was for piece of mind that this alarm had an engine cutoff switch making it harder to steal the car. So i was none to happy when I had to disable it.

I thought about installing LoJack but the car today isn't worth spending the amount of money that Lojack costs.

But it got me thinking. Why can't I just use inexpensive GPS technology to know if my car is being stolen? I already have GPS installed in my car via an iPaq Pocket PC, why not leverage that? I mean after all, FEDEX trucks and other vehicles already use GPS vehicle tracking technology. Wouldn't it be great if I could be sitting in a ballpark watching a game and if someone moves my car I would immediately receive a page, SMS, or email on my cell phone or PDA?

I knew the technology existed, but figured it would be prohibitively expensive. I did some preliminary research to see if such a product does exist for the common man.

I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that PowerLoc, the same company that makes my favorite PocketPC-based GPS software Destinator makes a GPS-tracking device.

They have 2 models - the VLD 101 and the VLD 201, with the same feature-set except the 201 has a motion sensor with alarm notification - exactly what I was looking for!

Other features include:

- Stolen Vehicle Tracking/Notification - Set and disable tracking parameters over the Internet

- Stolen Shutdown Service - Immobilize the vehicle's starter if your vehicle is moved or stolen

- Geofence Notification - An "invisible boundary" sets as a circle around the VLD. If the vehicle is moved outside of the Geofence, an SMS (Short Message Service) or e-mail emergency alert will be sent to the pre-determined recipients.

And here's an interesting one:

- Valet Button - Vehicle owner may press this button to set a 2-kilometer radius around the vehicle's current location. If the vehicle is moved outside of the set boundary, an alarm will sound. If it is not deactivated within16 seconds, an SMS or e-mail alert will be sent to the pre-determined recipients.

Unfortunately, the pricetag is $679. I assume of the reasons is that this product has a built-in cellular antenna that uses the nationwide Cellemetry network. I'm not sure if you have to "subscribe" to Cellemetry and pay a monthly fee as well.

As much as I love gadgets, and as cool as vehicle tracking would be, I'm too cheap to spend $679 for it. Call me cheap I guess. Alas, I will wait for the day for ubiquitous WiFi coverage. Then I can use my existing GPS receiver and existing PocketPC w/ GPS software for real-time vehicle tracking and monitoring over the Internet.

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