Outdoor Retailer: SPOT turns smartphones into satellite communicators

It's common knowledge and advice to not rely on your cell phone for help in the backcountry, lest you become a cautionary tale. Coverage is unreliable to nonexistent. Self reliance is mandatory.

But, what if you could use your smartphone to reach family, friends, or emergency personnel even after you've lost a cell signal? Would you want that extra layer of connectivity outside the grid?

The SPOT Connect device (on right) connects smartphones to the GEOS global satellite network.

The new SPOT Connect from SPOT gives you that option, turning your smartphone into a satellite communicator.

Pair your iPhone or Android (platform 2.0 or later) smartphone with the separate SPOT Connect device, using Bluetooth and the SPOT Connect app.

SPOT Connect links your smartphone to communication satellites. In nearly all places around the world you'll be connected to a global satellite network and be able to send messages and GPS coordinates even far beyond cell service.

SPOT Connect users can send updates to their contacts through text messages or a short email, request non-emergency help from contacts or professional service providers, and, in a true emergency, send an SOS message requesting emergency assistance.There is also an SOS button on the SPOT Connect device for emergency operation without the smartphone.

The SPOT Connect broadens the number of SPOT users, says Derek Moore, the brand's public relations manager. "You don't need to have a GPS device," he said. "But everyone seems to have an iPhone."

SPOT Connect Features

  • SOS: SOS sends your GPS location to the GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center every five minutes. GEOS alerts the appropriate agencies worldwide based on your location. You can augment the default information with custom messages to update responders of your condition. 
  • HELP: In Help mode, you can send either Type & Send (41 character) or Predefined (120 character) messages to recipients in your contact list.
  • Check-in/OK: Send messages and your GPS location to friends and family to update them on your status. You can simultaneously broadcast these messages to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
  • Track Progress: Track your progress on Google Maps or SPOT Adventures. Several tracking modes are available, and you can also elect to mark a Reference Point or send Check-in/OK messages from specific locations while in Track Progress mode. Start or stop tracking at anytime through the SPOT Connect app.

Earlier this month, SPOT Connect won the Innovations Award in Design and Engineering in the personal electronics category at the the International Consumer Electronics Show.

The SPOT Connect device will retail for $169.99. An annual subscription starting at $99.99 per year is required to activate service. Additional charges apply for Type & Send and Track Progress service plans.

SPOT Connect will be available in February of 2011.

Self reliance and good judgment remain mandatory.


    SPOT Connect Specs

    Weight: 4.9 oz (with batteries)

    Dimensions: 3 x 2.6 x 1.2 in (7.6 x 6.6 x 3.2 cm)

    GPS Lat. Long. Datum format: WGS-84

    Platforms: The app will launch for Android OS 2.0 and higher. It is currently pending final Apple approval. Blackberry and Windows phone 7 is scheduled for later this year.

    Operating Environment

    Temperature: -13°F to +140°F (-25°C to +60°C)

    Altitude: -328 ft to 21,325 ft (-100 m to +6500 m)

    IPX7 waterproof: Up to a depth of 1 meter for up to 30 minutes

    Bluetooth range: ~30 feet

    Satellite Technology

    GPS accuracy: 32.8 ft (10 m) location accuracy

    Commercial satellites (LEO): 1610-1620 MHz L-band frequency

    Visibility: 1 to 4 at any one time

    Battery type: 2 AA Energizer Ultimate Lithium 8X (L91)

    Filed under: Gear News, Outdoor Retailer


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