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Getting Harder to Get Lost

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New GPS-enabled mobile phone:

    NTT DoCoMo announced today that it will introduce it’s first Global Positioning Service (GPS)-compatible handset F661i, at the end of April.

    The GPS mobile phone enables users to determine their location at the touch of a button, and download location specific information via i-mode like graphical maps and other interesting information about the area.

    This is not like the GPS functionality that the US Phone companies introduced so far. In the US the GPS coordinates are only used for emergencies and not yet for actually providing value to the user in other situations.
    Uers of the F661i can send their current location to other i-mode enabled phones. In addition, a memo function allows users to store location information, including map, telephone numbers and addresses.
    The phone supports three applications of the GPS functionality:

    1)The GPS enabled Phone can be tracked by via a service, useful for instance for parents to track their kids. See also the Wherify GPS Person Locator.

    2)Submission of current location in case of emergency to pre-defined organizations, like police, fire departments etc. Similar to the GPS functionality available in the US.

    3)The F661i also can be used by businesses to track their delivery trucks and more. Similar to Car GPS devices. [I4U]

More on the Wherify service:

    Children have a natural urge to explore. Parents have a natural desire to know their children are safe.

    That’s why Wherify created the world’s first Personal Locator to help you determine your child’s location in minutes. Wherify’s GPS Locator helps keep loved ones safe by combining Wherify’s patented technology with the U.S. Department of Defense’s multi-billion dollar Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites plus the largest 100% digital, nationwide PCS wireless network.

    So relax. Now you can have peace of mind 24 hours a day while your child is the high tech envy of the neighborhood!

    ….MORE COOL FEATURES:

    Choose Your Map Style
    Choose a standard street map or custom aerial photo. Then zoom in, zoom out, pan right or left for a better look.

    Go Breadcrumbing!
    Soccer game? Play practice? With our “breadcrumb” feature, you can pre-set times for “locates” to ensure your child arrives safely.

    Unlock The Locator Remotely
    Your child has safely arrived at the pool party. Now unlock the locator via Internet or phone so your child can remove it.

    Update Your Profile
    Did your emergency contact phone number change? Is Junior a year older? It’s easy to update your Profile screen.

    PLUS! View location history, page your child, keep track of more than one child, and much more!

    ….FAQs

    Is the GPS Locator device water resistant? Can my child swim or bathe with it?
    The GPS Locator is water resistant. It can be worn while washing hands, but care must be taken not to get the Locator wet. It should be removed for bathing, showering, swimming or other water-related activities. If the Locator becomes wet, please dry it off immediately.

    I’m concerned about my child losing the device. Is the GPS Locator lockable?
    Yes. While the GPS Locator works simply by placing it on the wearer’s wrist, the subscriber can also lock the Locator on the wearer’s wrist to ensure that it won’t get lost. Simply press the middle button on the Locator. The subscriber can also request that the device be unlocked remotely, either on the Internet or over any phone. If unlocked, the unit will automatically lock during an emergency (either wearer or subscriber initiated).

    What if someone tries to tamper with the GPS Locator? Is it tamper and cut resistant?
    The device is made of a sturdy yet soft rubberized material, which is cut resistant. Should anyone try to cut or tamper with the band when the device is locked, an alarm will be activated at our Location Service Center and the subscriber will be notified.

    Does the GPS Locator make a sound when a page is received?
    The GPS Locator features an audible Page Alert. When activated (by pressing the left button), a tone sounds for five seconds whenever a page is received. Pressing the left button again will turn off the sound feature. The Page icon on the Locator flashes when a page is received, regardless of whether or not the audible Page Alert is activated.

    My child is young and I am concerned about him/her accidentally activating an emergency response. Can this feature be deactivated?
    Yes. You can deactivate this feature on your Preferences page at www.wherify.com

    Will there be different colors to choose from?
    Yes. The GPS Locator will be available in two kid-friendly colors: Galactic Blue and Cosmic Purple. Click here to see pictures of each color.

    What else does the GPS Locator do?
    The GPS Locator is also a one-way numeric pager. It’s also a very accurate watch that’s synchronized to an atomic clock. So it sets itself automatically, no matter what time zone you’re in.

It’s $399 for the device, plus $25-35 per month for the service.

No Luddites, even the Boy Scouts are getting into GPS:

    The Greater Cleveland Boy Scouts of America last summer started using global positioning systems, as well as a compass, to give older Scouts a taste of the future. The high-tech compass usessatellites to pinpoint a user’s location and can display detailed maps and key points on a small screen to help guide hikers.

    The Scouts loaded the 1,200-acre layout of Beaumont Scout Reservation in Ashtabula County into their devices.

    “We incorporate the usage of a global positioning system so they’re updated on what’s the latest technology,” said Troy Johnson, program director for the Greater Cleveland Scouts.

    Everyone from Scouts to traveling salespeople is experimenting with GPS devices, which use satellite signals to guide you through a long stroll in the Metroparks or to a buddy’s house in Columbus.

    ….At their simplest, hand-held GPS devices pack a digital compass, measure elevation and a traveler’s rate of speed, and let the owner plug in “waypoints,” landmarks that help create a digital road map.

    More complex hand-helds can include detailed maps and slots for additional features available via the Internet.

    All of these devices get their directional details through a bevy of satellites that pinpoint a device’s location to within a few meters and track a GPS unit as it moves around.

    ….Pete Brimbaugh, spokesman for GPS-maker Garmin, hopes GPS devices will be used by every Scout troop, as well as by schools working with triangulation technology and geometry. “We’re reaching out to people in Wal-Mart and Target,” Brimbaugh said, “where folks can pick these units up right off the shelf.”

    For the Greater Cleveland Boy Scouts of America, the GPS has all the functions of the trusty compass but also includes maps and improved methods of recording a hike. Counselors at Beaumont Scout Reservation in Ashtabula County preload the device with a route, which lets the Scouts check whether they are on the route.

    Camp organizers have used the GPS, with its ability to pinpoint longitude and latitude within a few meters, to create accurate camp boundaries, Johnson said.

    “We’re not eliminating the compass by any means because people can’t afford a GPS,” Johnson said. [Cleveland.com]

It seems to me in the long run the availability of GPS will lead to more people wandering around without much regard to getting lost. This freedom to roam is great, but I hope this doesn’t lead to disregard for other dangers that are out there like cliffs, wild animals and child molesters.

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About Eric Olsen