5 years ago, finding a reliable wireless GPS tracking device/service wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to accomplish. At the time, we were in the infancy stage of this particular wireless technology….with many providers offering hardware designed for other applications such as mobile asset tracking. Some, but not all, of these devices were being marketing as “Live/Real-Time” GPS tracking devices when, for example, they might have been designed to manage trailers, generators, or other stationary assets. This opened up the door to major reliability and performance issues, etc. Thankfully, wireless GPS technology has improved leaps and bounds in the past few years and now some robust wireless tracking devices are available to businesses and individuals worldwide. Some things to consider and questions to ask when choosing a tracking device are:
1) Size – Wireless tracking devices are mainly used for investigative purposes, or in cases where it’s imperative that the device be unseen while mounted on the vehicle or asset. In the past, before the technology was sufficiently advanced (minitiarized), this was a major issue since the only devices available were just too large to be effective. Today, the form factor of most wireless GPS devices has improved so much so that the largest device you should be considering is about the size of a deck of playing cards.
2) Battery Life – Depending on the manner in which a wireless tracking device is being used, battery life could be an important consideration. Most wireless GPS devices will utilize similar sized batteries as your average smartphone. For example, our flagship wireless tracking device is called the ComTracLIVE “PSL”. As a stand-alone device, at 10 second tracking intervals, the PSL offers roughly 10 hours of continual tracking. This might work fine if, say, a security company is using the device to track their guard personnel over the course of a single shift. However, for use in infidelity cases where a vehicle might need to be tracked for days or weeks, 10 hours of usage just won’t cut it. We offer an extended battery kit for the PSL called the “Covert Pro” that includes a larger lithium polymer battery pack, a magnetic water-resistant enclosure, a larger wallcharger, and any additional components. This extends the useful battery life of the ComTracLIVE “PSL” to roughly 90 hours of continual motion….or on average 3 weeks to a month of continual 10 second tracking updates on a single charge. It’s also important that the device incorporate a “Hibernation Mode”. If the vehicle IS NOT in motion, there’s no reason for it to be chewing up the battery power of the device unnecessarily. Our “Hibernation Mode” puts the device to sleep after 60 seconds of non-movement. To avoid any issues, make sure any company you’re considering has taken these factors into account!
3) External Wiring – If you’re going to be deploying a wireless device for covert tracking purposes, external antennas or wiring can present some very real challenges. This really shouldn’t be much of an issue nowadays as most newer devices incorporate internal GPS antennas however, covering your bases with any potential tracking providers by asking can never hurt.
4) The Antenna – No matter if it’s designed specifically for covert tracking purposes, it doesn’t change the fact that mounting a GPS device underneath the vehicle, with no line-of-sight with the sky, can challenge the capabilities of the technology. When beneath a vehicle, the signal from the satellites “bounces” off of the ground and then up into the GPS antenna integrated into the device. For this reason, ask the provider if the antenna within their device is an “Omni-Directional Antenna”. If used, this type of antenna picks up the satellite signals from all sides, not just one….making device placement and angle much less of a factor. DO NOT DISREGARD THIS POINT! If the device is an older design utilizing a “Uni-Directional Antenna”, placing the device properly could become a really big pain in the neck.
These are just a few things to consider when shopping for a wireless GPS tracking device. If anyone needs any help or has any questions, please feel free to give us a call or email us and we’d be more than happy to point you in the right direction.