Sunday, March 18, 2012

Open Source Tracker Blazes Past Kickstarter Goal

hidnseek

In writing for this blog for nearly a year, I have covered all kinds of Kickstarter projects, some of which have funded and successfully launched to pretty decent reviews, like Trax. Others completely flopped, as is the danger with crowdfunding anything, especially anything involving technology. As a general rule, I tend to wait until projects are completely or nearly completely funded before even bothering to write about it. And, as it turns out, HidnSeek is one such project. With five full weeks left, this tracker has blasted through it’s modest goal and continues to receive funding.

At the surface, HidnSeek really isn’t all that different from, well, any other GPS tracker. The device is small and designed to be slipped into a pocket, bag or clipped on a zipper or keychain. It can record and transmit location once every five minutes (longer periods of time are allowed) and supposedly has some pretty good battery life if you don’t mind less frequent pings. HidnSeek also supports motion sensing and geofencing, as you would expect with a tracker.

However, HidnSeek does have a couple of things going for it that are slightly unusual.

SIGFOX Network

First and foremost the tracker takes advantage of the SIGFOX network which is pretty extensive in quite a bit of Europe. The company promises that it has plans to expand in the United States and other countries as well, although right now San Francisco is the only US city with support. The reason this is significant is not only that the yearly subscription is a bit cheaper but that it will be the first GPS tracker that supports SIGFOX’s IoT (Internet of Things) network. It also uses less battery and doesn’t require a SIM card or that sort of thing.

Open Source

Secondly, HidnSeek offers open source firmware to let users and the general public help make suggestions and changes to make the tracker even better. There aren’t a whole lot of details about exactly what developers will be able to do or how such changes and suggestions will move to the tracker, but the idea is pretty interesting.

“We decided upon Open-source hardware because we realized that so many great ideas in the world have been binned before having a chance to be explored,” the creators write on their Kickstarter page.

Body Guard Function

HidnSeek also has another function which I’ve not seen on a tracker before, and it’s referred to as “Body Guard Function.” This setting allows users to set a stationary alert period.  Once activated, if the tracker is unmoving for a set amount of time (generally 1 – 15 minutes) then a notification will be sent to the connected smartphones. I could see this being very useful if you’re following a runner in a race or really any kind of physical activity.

Tracker Information

Hidnseektracker

As far as other capabilities, the tracker really does the sorts of things that you’d expect a tracker to do including the ability to set and monitor geofences, track routes, motion sensing and smartphone connectivity. The creators say HidnSeek has an expected accuracy of “less than ten meters” which doesn’t sound that impressive to me, honestly, but the battery life is projected to be anywhere from a few days to a few months, depending on how often you set it to transmit location. It can, at most, report on location every five minutes or roughly 140 locations per day.

The HidnSeek is currently available on Kickstarter for the Early Bird price of $121 (€109). Once the Early Bird offer is gone, the price will jump up to $143 (€129) and is normally priced at $160 (€150). Kickstarter backers will be offered the first year subscription for about $13 (€12) and $22 (€20) per year after that.

As of the time of writing, the project is at 130% of its goal and still going to strong, so I would say that the risks are probably a little low although I might suggest US buyers be a little cautious as expansion to the greater US is a little vague right now.

Check out this video from the developers for more information in a nice PR style:

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