WaveTracker Plus – free GPS tracking app

I [Ed. Steve] had to put on my antigobbledygook glasses before the significance – and it is significant – of this press release from Wave Technology Group got through to me. (Why DO they write like that? The website is as bad…) The gist is that the company has released an app for GPS-enabled phones that can be used to locate the phone user from a remote computer. The app is for Android, Blackberry and Windows Mobile phones (not iPhone) and they are distributing it free at the moment. The focus is on finding missing children and people with dementia who get lost. Is the era of the dedicated GPS tracking device slipping away already?

3 thoughts on “WaveTracker Plus – free GPS tracking app

  1. Tracking by GPS

    I’m not sure if this development is as significant as it might seem. Mobile phones with GPS capability have been around for a decade and were used by Frank Miskelly and his team in trials to locate people with dementia in London for a number of years. The success was limited by the reluctance of elderly people to carry a mobile phone, the difficulties of managing the charging process, and the need to send someone to bring them to a place of safety after locating them. Since then we have seen dozens of different devices with GPS and geo-fencing capability come onto the market, some fitting on the wrist, others on a lanyard around the neck, and others being suitable for attachment to a key-ring. Excellent protocols for their use have been developed by SLAM and the local authority telecare service in Croydon and by CPPHT’s telecare service in Cheshire, ensuring that an end-to-end service is available.

    This new smart phone application will, however, be particularly relevant to younger users, especially to children with ASD or those with mild to moderate learning disabilities. When used in conjunction with applications such as an epileptic seizure detector (or a fall detector) already available on Android phones then we really will see m-care sitting comfortably alongside telecare services. Of course, there may be some interesting discussions ahead on who should give permission for a smart phone to be tracked (and essentially tagged) in this way.

  2. WaveTracker Plus
    GPS enabled smartphones bring economies of scale, lower barriers of entry, and introduce efficiencies to the mass public, which dedicated GPS devices cannot provide. Additionally with the wealth of skilled developers in the mobile computing sector, more creative solutions and effective solutions can be provided. I would say the answer to your question, is ‘Yes’ the era of dedicated GPS tracking devices is slipping away. 800,000 children go missing every year in the United States. Our solution could not have been realized with dedicated GPS tracking devices, the cost would have been prohibitive.

  3. Location and GPS devices

    I agree with you Sam that this type of application will bring tracking to the reach of many more people than would have been possible using dedicated GPS devices. However, I believe that the biggest impact will be on younger people, especially those with Long Term Conditions such as diabetes and congestive heart disease. They might be subject to a hypoglycaemic incident, a heart attack or simply a panic attack at any time. These problems could be detected quickly and automatically using worn medical sensor devices that link through to the smart phone. How much more useful would it be for the emergency services to be told exactly where the patient is as well as what the problem might be? People who are at risk in this way would be the most compliant and would surely be reassured in the knowledge that help would be quickly available irrespective of where they happen to be.

    I suspect that the situation may be quite different with people and children who may not want to be located. Whilst the prospect of finding a lost smart phone is bound to be attractive to carers and parents (and whoever paid for the device), I suspect that many potential users will reject the idea of their phones being used to track their movements. More subtle approaches may be needed and that could involve the use of dedicated GPS systems subject to individual assessments. I think that we need to pay more attention to the psychology of people before assuming what they will or will not use. Consequently, I envisage a mass market dominated by smart phones (and great new apps like Wavetracker Plus) but with niche groups requiring more specialised products. The challenge will be for health and social care professionals to have the knowledge and skills to know which approach will work best for which group.

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