With the recent release of its teeny yet powerful Trax realtime GPS solution, start-up Wonder Technology Solutions joins a growing list of Swedish wearables-focused companies with roots in the crowdfunding system. The successfully Kickstarted Trax is the sort of product that parents of high-spirited kids or owners of directionally-challenged pets have long been pleading for.
The concept is simple: slip the tracker (the size of a matchbox and weighing less than an ounce) into a pocket, clip it to some clothing or thread it through a leash. Then download the app and let 'em run wild. "Kids and dogs are very similar—they're at their best when they're running about! Exploring, playing with one another, learning new things and, in the case of kids, becoming independent, that's what they should be doing, not being wrapped in cotton wool," says Trax's founder and product developer Mikael Karlsson. Real credit is owed to Karlsson's two unruly terriers, however, whose off-the-leash adventures led to Trax's creation.
Unlike many current GPS offerings, the platform functions in real time, meaning that the position of the tracker is 'live' and not buffered. Trax sends and receives GPS readings at regular intervals via the Glonass satellite system, one of the most reliable orbiting our globe. That means you'll see exactly where a Trax is on the App's map on your smartphone or tablet.
The trackers contain a plethora of microelectromechanical sensors (or MEMS), all working in harmony through customized algorithms developed by WTS. Working in unison are readings from the device's magnetoscope, gyroscope and accelerometer. So even without a GPS signal Trax will be accurate up to 1.5 meters. Very impressive.
As for Trax's companion app, it's a stripped down, intuitive affair; seemingly the hallmark of all innovative Swedish tech-head designs. Users can create an unlimited number of geofences, which in turn trigger various alerts. "In a few minutes you can have the whole week mapped out with the relevant geofences—one around the school, another surrounding the playground, sports field and even individual rooms," Karlsson explains. "The user can specify whether to receive alerts when a tracker goes into out out of a geofence plus they'll be informed if the battery starts to run low, if a tracker is traveling above a certain speed and even if it's dropped!" Each geofence can be assigned a specific schedule, so you're not constantly receiving alerts all the time. A subtle, more passive tracking is what we're talking about; non-invasive Swedish reassurance, if you will.
Karlsson also points out that he initially wanted to create Trax more than ten years ago. "It simply wasn't possible," he says. "The tech was not there, and the tracker would have been huge. Even now, it's only thanks to a real attention to functionality and the right blend of hardware and software technology that's let us build Trax this size. At that time I had to just cope with my neighbors or police or farmers knocking on the door with my two dogs covered in mud."
Trax retails for $250—which includes two years of unlimited roaming in over 30 countries—and will be available worldwide in March 2014.
Images courtesy of Trax