Parents can worry and imagine the worst. The setting could be a crowded and rowdy carnival, or perhaps the local superstore. The walk home from school might induce nervous thoughts or a bit of paranoia. GPS tracking devices have been designed to alleviate some of those fears and to offer the reassurance that parents need. However, some recently evaluated tracking devices have been found to underachieve.

GPS Tracking of Children
GPS Tracking Devices To Monitor Children Under-perform

Deploying GPS tracking devices in a child monitoring capacity is a great application. There are some solid, reputable companies who have taken on the responsibility of introducing quality devices to market for the sole purpose of protecting children. Nothing could be more important, especially in today’s day and age. However, the key to these devices effectiveness in the field is, first and foremost, a small form-factor. Simply put, the smaller the device, the harder it is for the bad guys to find. Yet, “small” devices have some inherent flaws.

The smaller the device, the smaller the battery, which ultimately results in tracking providers having limited options. The majority of these devices are motion-activated. Meaning that when no motion is detected, they should revert to some form of “hibernation mode”. This should, in theory, conserve battery life. The issue is, despite the device being stationary, the most integral of the internal components may still need to remain active. In layman’s terms, the device does not completely shut off.

Most GPS tracking services also require a monthly data plan. Providers of child GPS tracking devices make some sacrifices to ensure that those services remain affordable for the everyday consumer. Chief among those sacrifices is how often a device communicates its location. The more frequently a device reports its location, the more data it consumes. As it consumes more data, the cost for monthly services rises. It simply is a part of the equation in providing these tracking solutions. Many of these service plans also offer the ability to engage continuous tracking of the device. If “continuous” tracking were to be used, not only would charges accrue much more rapidly, but the devices’ internal battery would be quickly exhausted.

In this case, the quality of the battery technology is of primary concern. Available battery chemistry simply has not advanced on par with, nor as small as, the advanced personal GPS tracking devices that are on the market today. At least, not in a commercially available design. This severely limits the options for service providers. Major breakthroughs could very well be right around the corner. Until then, parents who invest in these devices should understand the limitations that they are faced with. If consumers fully understand the flaws, these devices can still do the job that they were designed to do…despite not being a perfect solution.

Source: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/03/personal-gps-locators-review/index.htm

We have more great articles in our archives on GPS technology. “GPS Jammer Gets NJ Man Jammed Up, Earns $32k Fine and Gets Fired.”