Mini TrackerPad on Kickstarter attracts controversy

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TrackerPad is a GPS tracking system which has launched on KickStarter. It’s equal to the size of a 10pence coin. It’s an excellent (if somewhat creepy) idea: You can stick the thing anywhere, and it’ll ping its location to an app on your mobile phone via in-built sim. Weighing only 1.6g with a size of 10x10x3.8mm, this little piece of tech could stick to any frame, any helmet, any brake set, any child, any.. well, anything really.

A geniune product or just really good photoshop?
A genuine piece of innovation or too good to be true?

It’s got a battery life of up to seven days, and you charge it wirelessly using a pretty clever charging bay.

Bay of which the charging happens
Bay of which the charging happens

But for such a potentially groundbreaking piecer of tech, the TrackerPad is attracting its fair share of detractors on Kickstarter. It’s got over 900 backers, who have pledged almost £40,000 towards the £100,000 goal, but a few vociferous posters have been crying foul. ‘It’s not feasible at the cost’ is one claim, along with simply ‘it’s not feasible’.

TrackerPad app

The KickStarter creator, Billy Dorey, has yet to reply to the accusations, but we’ll keep you posted.

You can see the project in more detail here. Anyone an expert in this sort of GPS tech? Let us have your reckons!

Comments (11)

    Far from an expert but do have a fair bit of experience in being an end user of this sort of technology for the past 5 years.

    Frankly I will be astonished if a 7 day battery life and reliable GPS signal can be combined into a device of that size.

    The kit I use is the recognised UK industry standard kit and generally will be accurate to within 20 metres or so. It has a 72 hr battery life when live tracking (although it can be switched off and remotely activated so this can be significantly extended).

    Size wise that equipment is roughly the size of a cigarette packet and details at around £1000 per unit.

    I’ll watch this with interest.

    I also know one of the detractors on the kickstarter page as he happens to work for the supplier that I use.

    To send a “ping” it contains a “phone”, right? If phones could be this small, they would be. That’s why I’m doubtful this device can be realized until we’re using phones integrated into shirt sleeve buttons. Actually that’s a great idea for a kickstarter project!

    Has anyone also questionned about how it might be mis-used? i.e. stuck on your bike / car / bag for thieves to follow you home? 🙁

    I’m sceptical too.. based on many things but also the fact that image at the top of the story is photoshopped.

    But.. in principal a device that performs the function of GPS tracking doesn’t have to be like a mini phone. It just needs to transmit a regular signal via it’s sim with location data. The principal obstacle is power consumption.
    Now it just needs to sleep for a period of time… wake up… get GPS location data… connect to local base station via sim.. send location data… go back to sleep and repeat. The greater the interval between wakes the better for power consumption. Even a ‘sleep’ period of 30 mins is going to be useful for tracking purposes.

    In terms of using an app to configure it, that can be done by blue-tooth in the proximity of the app, just like an iBeacon.

    We are playing with iBeacons at the moment. They come in strips of self adhesive stickers – they are very small. They continuously send out a signal via blue-tooth waiting for a connection with a device within a 70m range. Now, while they don’t output the kind of power needed to make a good connection with a base station, they do have a built in battery with a lifespan of 18 months. It’s feasible that capacity of power could power a sim and GPS device for a week.

    This device IS at least feasible with current technology… But that Kickstarter is still very suspicious.

    Seriously dubious!
    A lot of the technical details are just way too good to be true (5Hz GPS. No way) . And some simply don’t make sense (“Selectable UART, SPI or I2C host interface”, “Programmable baud rate” eh?)

    I could just about believe it if it used Bluetooth Smart to ping all nearby mobile phones running the app, and then those phones reported position using their own GPS.

    But I can’t see how they could feasibly manage to get a sim card, GPS, battery, antenna, and inductive coil in that size of package and get 7 days battery life out of it.

    This Nano Hornet looks like the GPS SoC he claims to be using:
    http://www.origingps.com/products/org-1411/
    10x10x3.8mm and the bullet points on the spreadsheet match his nicely.

    Except he also needs to add a 7-day battery, induction coil, a GSM module, sim card and plastic sticker enclosure to that package without making it any bigger.

    where have i seen that plastic disc before? Am thinking something out of plastic bottle lid like the blanking caps you get in baby bottles or maybe something out of plumbing.

    This device IS at least feasible with current technology… But that Kickstarter is still very suspicious.

    No it isn’t. Not in that size anyway.

    I’m working with iBeacons / Bluetooth LE, Estimote specifically and they are a bit bigger than the mock up looks. They don’t include GSM or GPS , and a CR2032 lasts them for a couple of years.

    I work for a mobile operator playing around with this stuff as part of my day job. It’s not feasible, battery would be much bigger to give the claimed battery life. We’ve got units 3cm x 3cm x 1 cm that give this functionality, contain GPS and a SIM, battery lasts 2 days at most, 1 day realistically.

    1.6g in weight? Tried weighing a CR2032? About 3.2g.

    Don’t get me started on the cost either. You could probably source units in bulk for maybe £10-15 each from China. Selling them at 5 for £45, with the associated mobile connection (which needs to be paid for – they are claiming no service plan is needed and they work worldwide)?

    Have the mobile operators started to give M2M connections away for free? To a random on Kickstarter?

    Fake, fake, fake. Or more correctly, scam, scam, scam.

    A similar-looking device, the TrackR bravo, raised $1.6 million on Indiegogo in 2014:

    https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trackr-bravo-the-thinnest-tracking-device-ever–2#/comments

    As you can see from the comments, people aren’t happy, not only because the project was delayed by over a year, but also because the effective range seems to be all of 2-3 feet.

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