Product Review: Find Spot

Spotlite 2.O Pet GPS Locator
By Natasha Léger | Published April 22, 2013

SECURUSGPS RELEASED THEIR ADVANCED PET LOCATOR SPOTLITE 2.0 IN EARLY MARCH 2013. I had the privilege of trying out this nifty gadget. It is designed to be worn by a 10 pound or greater sized dog. I don’t have a dog, so I did the next best thing. I used it to track my car and to track my partner’s suitcase (with his permission of course) as he traveled from Colorado to the East Coast. Let’s call them both Spot.

Every 5 minutes the SpotLite 2.0 device checks its location (Spot’s location) and battery life to determine if an alert is necessary and every 15 minutes will automatically update its GPS location if it is able. The alerts are based on your requirements. For example, in the settings screen I set a geo-fence or “safe spot” around Spot, which includes the radius around Spot as well as whether Spot is moving at a particular speed. See Figure 1.

Fig 1: This screenshot illustrates a geofence or safe spot designated for Spot.

Every time Spot is located outside of the safe spot I receive an email message (you can select email, text message or both) alerting me to Spot’s location. SecurusGPS services are connected to the T-Mobile wireless communications network. (Users cannot select a different mobile network.) If the device is powered off, in an area without T-Mobile coverage, or in an area where access to GPS satellites is not available, then the device will not update its location.

 

How It Works

There are also a number of ways to check on Spot’s location. I can click “Find” in my account dashboard, the mobile app, or using the “Text to Find” feature. I can also request the device to update its location every 30 seconds (often used if the dog or object is lost or suspected of being stolen) by clicking “Track” from within the account or from the mobile app. Track will ask the device to find its location and continuously update it every 30 seconds for 1 hour. After an hour it can be restarted.

While the tracking is real-time, the satellite and aerial imagery upon which the GPS location of the device is overlaid is not real-time. When I tracked my partner’s luggage to Denver International Airport and Newark Airport, the planes indicated at the gate were not his. See Figures 2 and 3.

Fig 2: Luggage spotted at the airport in Denver.

Fig 3: Luggage spotted at airport in New Jersey.

 Also when tracked to the hotel, the bag was located as being in a car that wasn’t actually there. See Figure 4. So please do not rush to break into someone’s car thinking that your dog might be in there because the imagery is not necessarily up to date. The imagery is provided to give you context, but real-time satellite or aerial imagery is still a long way into the future.

 

Fig 4: Luggage tracked to hotel parking lot in New Jersey, but the car referenced in the aerial image is not real-time.

While the GPS tracking of the device is real-time, it is important to note that the position of the device may change even if it is stationery. To find Spot, the Spotlite  2.0 relies on Advanced GPS Technology or AGPS. AGPS means that when your device is asked to find its location, it communicates with satellites orbiting earth to find its location while simultaneously increasing the accuracy of that location by incorporating cellular triangulation.

GPS is the most accurate form of locating a device, but can still be slightly skewed by large objects and the position of satellites in orbit. As satellites move, the locations that the device returns will change, even though the object may be still. These changes are referred to as “signal bounces.”

To combat this, SpotLite 2.0 not only gets a location from satellites, but improves that location by comparing the information with the signal strength it receives from nearby cell towers. Although this cannot completely keep “bouncing” from occurring, it should offer the most consistent and accurate location available.  

The Spotlite 2.O costs $119.00 plus the annual service plan of $12.99-19.99 per month. (The monthly service cost ranges depending on payment preference: prepaid or monthly installments. The 2-year plan is the best value resulting in $12.99 per month.) This is well worth the cost for peace of mind on the safety of your dog or any objects you have that are “mobile” that may be subject to walking away.

For people traveling with pets, this is ideal to keep track of them, especially when they have to fly cargo instead of with you. The Spotlite 2.0 is also unique because it is registered with the American Kennel Club Companion Animal Recovery (AKC CAR), which assists in physically rescuing your lost pet. It would not have been appropriate for us to test out this feature on the car and luggage that left the safe zone!

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