Until recently, if you wanted a satellite rescue beacon, your only choice was to go with the government-based SARSAT/COSPAS 406 Mhz Emergency Position Locating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) or the newer Personal Locating Beacon (PLB). Now there’s a private industry solution called SPOT. It uses GPS for determining your position and then it broadcasts that info via the commercial Globalstar satellite network (SPOT is a subsidiary of Globalstar). The reliance on Globalstar means that the unit won’t work anywhere in the world, but in those areas with Globalstar coverage. SPOT puts it this way: “SPOT works in much of the world, including virtually the entire continental United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Australia, portions of South America, Northern Africa and Northeastern Asia, and hundreds of thousands of miles offshore of these areas.”
From the press release: SPOT Inc. has announced that SPOT, the world’s first satellite messenger, is available for purchase and activation. Small, rugged and simple to use, the SPOT satellite messenger is a lifesaving device designed to improve personal safety for the millions of people who spend time in the outdoors – whether for recreation, work or daily life. With the push of a button, SPOT can transmit a user’s exact location and message to a 9-1-1 emergency call center in times of need, or to friends, family or co-workers to request help, track their location, or just keep in touch. Because SPOT sends a user’s exact GPS satellite location over a commercial satellite network, SPOT works in much of the world regardless of cellular coverage. Viewing messages and locations is easy using the SPOT Web service with included Google Maps™ technology.
“All of us have heard the news stories of people getting lost, stranded or worse in mountains or remote areas, and we’ve all wondered what would we do when caught in those same dangerous or potentially life-threatening situations,” said Dennis Allen, Senior Vice President of Sales, SPOT Inc. “Now, with SPOT, you can send a message for help or tell family members, friends or the authorities exactly where to find you using GPS accuracy, and at a price most people can afford. In addition to outdoor enthusiasts, SPOT also helps the millions of people who desire the peace of mind of maintaining contact in the face of limited cellular coverage or as a back-up communication plan for natural disasters, such as the recent hurricanes in the Southeast or the wildfires on the West Coast. If you have a cell phone, you need a SPOT.”
SPOT message and tracking functions enable users to send messages to friends, family or emergency responders, based on varying levels of need and to visually track the location of the SPOT satellite messenger:
* Alert 9-1-1 signals an emergency response center to dispatch emergency responders to an exact location
* Ask for Help sends a request for help to friends and family
* Check In lets contacts know where you are and that you are OK
* Track Progress sends and saves your location and allows your selected contacts to track your progress using Google Maps and www.findmespot.com with password-protected security.
“We are excited to meet this critical safety need,” added Mr. Allen. “We are proud to provide a product that can offer more security to millions of people because of its lifesaving communication capability – and useful services for daily life, such as checking in, or tracking your location. Since our announcement at the Outdoor Retailer Show in August, bloggers, magazines, newspapers and retailers around the country have fallen in love with the SPOT messenger. Now, we are very pleased to be able to offer it to the public on Nov. 1.”
As featured in Popular Science, MacWorld, U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post, among others, the SPOT messenger provides consumers peace of mind whether they’re signaling for emergency responders or checking-in with a spouse or friend. SPOT is only seven ounces and uses convenient and easy-to-replace AA size lithium batteries for complete portability. When powered on, it has a standby battery life of 12 months. The SPOT messenger also floats and its rugged waterproof construction is engineered to withstand a wide variety of extreme environmental shock and temperature conditions.
“As an avid outdoorsman, I saw the lifesaving value of the SPOT messenger for outdoor adventurers even before I used it myself,” said Henry Waszczuk, host of two nationally-televised outdoor shows, ‘Fins & Skins’ and ‘Fishing the Flats.’ “The way I see it, the SPOT messenger takes the search out of search and rescue. However, when I actually tested all of the functions of this little product, I was very excited about the potential for SPOT to provide peace of mind for outdoor enthusiasts in many other situations – whether you are hunting, camping, fishing, boating, or mountain climbing. SPOT is a must for any outdoor activity. I can now send updates on my whereabouts while traveling for work, let my family know I’m OK while deep-sea fishing, and have a back-up plan in case my truck breaks down on the way to another TV shoot. Without question, SPOT is one of the most amazing new products for the avid outdoorsman.”
The SPOT satellite messenger will be available through major sporting goods, wireless, and electronics retailers across the U.S. and online through the company’s Web site, www.findmespot.com.
The SPOT messenger will be available for $169.99 USD online (MSRP – unit price may vary by retail location). Initially, annual service fees will be offered at $99.99 USD. Later, monthly and multi-year options will be available. Optional features include an automatic tracking service for $49.99 and a private rescue service for countries or regions with non-responsive emergency services for $7.95.
SPOT works in much of the world, including virtually the entire continental United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Australia, portions of South America, Northern Africa and Northeastern Asia, and hundreds of thousands of miles offshore of these areas. SPOT uses the GPS satellite system to determine a user’s location and a commercial satellite network to transmit that location and the user’s status.
Approximate dimensions: 4.38 X 2.75 X 1.5 inches
Operating Temperature Range: -40 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit
Weight: 7.37 ounces
Altitude: -300 feet to 21,000 feet