I’ve been having a think about the free VITO FindMe software we covered earlier today. Whilst it works great as a “friend finder” I figured that the software could be applied to different scenarios – car tracking for one.
Let me describe my thinking. A few years ago I bought a new car. It was an expensive beast so I decided to put a Tracker on it. Should the car get stolen I’d instantly be able to call the authorities who would locate my car using the on-board homing device. There’s a couple of problems with this system though. Firstly it’s a tad expensive – £249 for the Tracker, £100 for the install and then a reoccurring charge of £125 per year. The second problem with the system occured when I span the car and reversed into a tree, smashing the Tracker into several pricey bits.
I figured that a cheaper alternative might involve a cheap Pocket PC from eBay (£36), a wired GPS receiver with dual car charger (again from eBay, about £20), a PayAsYouGo SIM card (usually free) and the VITO FindMe software. In theory, if you’re lucky enough to have one of those power feeds / cigarette lighters in the boot you can hide the device and the GPS unit somewhere in the back of your car. Should the worse happen you just need to send a text message containing the relevant password to the Pocket PC and the software will reply with your cars’ current GPS position. Errrr.. bingo! You’ve found your car. :)
I guess there’s other uses for this software if you set it up this way, like checking when your wife or girlfriend goes to the shops :) Can you think of any more ideas? :)
Update – I’ve given this a try today. Read on for the results! :)
This morning I decided to give the software a “real life” test. The results were quite good. I installed the software and, apart from having to reboot the Pocket PC after installing the software, it did indeed work as a rudimentary “stolen car” finder. I dumped a T-Mobile MDA Compact III in my car after installing VITO FindMe and put £10 onto a free o2 SIM PayAsYouGo SIM card. Now then, I’m not 100% sure, but I believe o2 won’t cancel your o2 SIM unless you fail to top up for 90 days. In theory then I could top up £10 every three months and set a reminder on my phone to add some more funds – that’d be about £40 per year.
Next I use my normal phone to send a message to the hidden device in my car along with the password that activates the Vito FindME software….
Then I get back my first GPS position via text message. A few minutes later I send another request and get a new co-ordinate, and I do another request and get a third position…
Job done! Now I can put this information into Google maps and I get an exact position of my car. Good huh ? Not bad for three text messages..!