Even as GPS capability has largely become a common feature in smartphones, Japanese carrier Softbank is planning to launch a new GPS service that will allow users to carry around small trackers for a monthly fee. The trackers are small – handy enough fit into a pocket or attach to valuable items, Softbank says – and will run on the mobile company’s 3G network. These pocket trackers will allow customers to immediately get information on their current location if they are carrying the tracker with them, or be notified if a tracker leaves a pre-defined location.
The devices measure 45mm x 67mm and are 15mm thick, and weigh about 48 grams. The trackers are water and shock proof, with enough protection from the elements when a user carries it around. Softbank says that the device can run about 340 hours on a single battery charge, ensuring that battery life will not be a problem for these trackers. They also store their location continuously for future upload to another platform, like a PC or a smartphone via special apps. “Up until now, we’ve launched phones with this feature that have largely been used by children and the elderly. We would like to expand this service to individuals that use it when they go jogging or in other situations,” said Softbank spokesman Masaki Tanabe.
The service will cost the users 490 yen (US$5.20) per month with a two-year contract. Softbank has revealed that it will waive the service fee for new mobile subscribers. In connection with the GPS device, the company will also begin offering a new security service in April that allows Softbank subscribers to request for a security guard to go directly to the location of one of the trackers or Softbank phones. The service will cost 315 yen per month, plus a one-time fee (5,775 yen) whenever a guard is summoned. The service, offered in partnership with Japanese security firm Central Security Patrols, will be called CSP Mobile Assist.[via Network World]