Thursday, March 27, 2014

GPS Trackers

Update Phones For Seniors

Let's say that your aging relative likes to go for long walks alone, but might get confused or lost and can't be counted on to phone home for help. Shouldn't there be a simple, cheap, GPS/SMS solution for this? Is there a long-battery device that on ~2min intervals reports its GPS location via SMS to a web service where authorized users can view recent location on a map?

The Jitterbug is a large-button, easy to use celphone with up to 25 days of standby battery life that costs $99 and has many optional services/fees. It doesn't have a GPS, so the best location it could provide is Cell Tower Triangulation which in a rural area could easily limit you to 1km resolution.

The cheapest GPS/SMS solution offered by is the ST100 Guardian which costs $185.00 and has a monthly fee of $32.95 which is pretty steep for what amounts to an unlimited SMS service.

Hasn't this problem already been solved for cars? lists GPS304-B, a water resistant GSM/GPRS/ GPS Motorcycle Tracker for $65 which supports message tracking with Google maps. It comes with a SIM card and has 5m position accuracy, but it requires external power. I suppose you just connect an SMS account to the provided SIM and your monthly fee comes from your SMS provider. I'm not sure who the SMS data is uploaded to.

It would be pretty easy to build an AWS service that received SMS and converted that to a location on a map. So has anyone build an android app that broadcasts GPS location over SMS?

Even better, the Where's My Droid app lets you send a keyword SMS to an android phone and in response get its current GPS coordinates. That's got to be the cheapest solution. The only drawback is that you need two phones. One to be carried by the person to be located and one to do the locating. and list the ZTE V956 as a GPS capable Android 4.1 phone for $120. It appears that speak out sells $10 SIM cards that work in android phones and provide prepaid SMS which give unlimited canada/US text. The cheapeast plan is $20 and it seems to last for a year.

So, you buy a $120 phone, you but at $10 SIM, you buy a $20 plan and then you're good for a year, all you need is someone who can run find-my-droid to locate the phone. If you don't already have a phone you just buy the whole kit again. So that's $260 up-front then $40 per year and you have two phone out of the deal.


According to yahoo answers, the Jitterbug doesn't have a sim card slot and can't be unlocked. The jitterbug works on with the Jitterbug service which is a CDMA network.

As an alternatvie to the Jitterbug, consider the Snapfon Big Button Cell Phone which is well reviewed as a phone for senior citizens and is available in Canada via Frontier Computing.

Requires Android 2.2 and up
Has Android 2.3 OS
Can find your phone via the web interface
Standby Time = Up to 14.2 days
Messaging Services = SMS, MMS, IM (Google Talk)
comes with a sim card
Huawei will work on any carriers with GSM 850/900/1800/1900 network.
Snapfon is a Quad Band GSM Worldphone 850/900/1800/1900MHz
If you bought the phone without service, you will have to install your carrier's sim card.
Needs a regular SIM (i.e. mini), not micro or nano.


order snapfon online from frontiercomputing
ships with express post for $15

order online from 7eleven
Huawei Ascend Y215 Black      $149.00
$50 Account Top Up                  $50.00
Promotional Discount              -$20.00
// for the snapfon
SpeakOut Wireless SIM Card     $10.00
$25 Account Top Up               $25.00
ground shipping 3-5 business days    $16.75
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