Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Tracking Geofences

AccuTracking provides a free tracking service for personal use. You can set up to 4 phones with them. I mentioned their service on a previous post about location services.

You install their midlet on a GPS-enabled phone, like the i415 for example or any other listed on their website, create an account and generate an ID for your phone. Setup the midlet on the phone with the generated ID, establish how often you want the phone to upload its position and if it should keep the GPS chip on or not (default is cold GPS, less power usage). The midlet also has a virtual compass.

After sending a position from the phone, check the account under Tracking to obtain a map, based on Google, USGS Topo and Aero photos. You can then set a geofence (in feet) around that point, and get notified if the phone gets out or inside (or both) the fence. Notifications can be sent by email or to an SMS address. If you let the midlet run in background, it will update its location continually.

If you click over the username at the website, you will be able to see a history of the most recent points on a Google Map, with information about heading, speed and coordinates.

Accutracking also offers stickers (and the corresponding HTML code) that you can place in a webpage, including current position as a link or a graphical image and the recent location history. This type of service is common among shipping services so that companies can track their deliveries or service providers.

Among personal use one can argue that this is a pretty big invasion of privacy, but someone should make sure it has the phone owner's (or user) agreement to do that. Valid cases include seniors and pets. But things might easily get out of hand.

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