It's 2007, and by now many expected us to have warp engines and flying cars. While those predictions from old sci-fi movies haven't panned out, the 21st century is still delivering some cool technology. For instance, take that constellation of satellites known as the Global Positioning System (GPS). Originally launched by the military to track troops and aim bombs with pinpoint accuracy, it's now used for myriad purposes, including knowing where your musclecar is located.
The GPS Snitch comes with instructions and a wall charger.
Once a thief makes off with your car, it's highly unlikely you'll ever see it again. Let's face it, there are a million places they could take it and the cops are just too busy to search them all. To you, it's your pride and joy, but to the rest of the world, it's just a car. If you want to avoid being a victim, you need to take matters into your own hands. Alarms, steering wheel locks, and kill switches stop the amateur thief, and at best, slow down the pros, but once they have the car in their possession, those gadgets are useless. Enter the GPS Snitch, a miracle of modern technology that won't stop someone from taking your ride, but will greatly increase your chances of getting it back.
Choosing where to hide the Snitch is a choice between stealth and getting a good signal.
How It Works
The GPS Snitch is a mix of GPS and cellular technology that is designed to be easily hidden in a car or anything else you want to track. This allows the Snitch to provide real-time position tracking over the Internet. Log onto its Web site from a computer or Web-enabled cell phone, and you can see exactly where on the globe the unit is. We asked Yves Carrier of Blackline GPS (the makers of the Snitch) how the tracking process works. He explains: "Whenever your Snitch is online, you can request its location at any time because it's a track-on-demand product. Once the 'locate' button is pressed, our computers generate a wireless communication with a customer's Snitch, requesting its GPS location. The GPS Snitch will then calculate its position and send this information back wirelessly to our computers so that we can show the information in your GPS Snitch account." All of this happens in just a few seconds, and seconds count when someone is making off with your ride. In addition to location, the system also provides altitude, ground speed, and heading.
The hardwire kit is the way to go if you don't want to constantly charge up your Snitch.
The Snitch is also small, about the size of a deck of cards. This gives great flexibility where you can stash it in your car. Inside this compact package is a high-sensitivity GPS receiver, a GSM cellular system, a rechargeable battery, a motion sensor, and a circuit board to control it all. The battery can power the Snitch for up to seven days, so once charged, you can simply turn it on, arm it, and hide it in your car. The company also offers a hardwire kit ($14.99) that lets you continuously charge the unit off your car's electrical system. If a scumbag steals your ride and disconnects the car's battery, the Snitch will still rat him out for up to a week. Given the portable nature of the Snitch, you can easily move it from car to car, hiding it virtually anywhere.
At times, you may elect to turn on the unit's perimeter alert function; the unit will automatically track the Snitch every five minutes for two hours in the event your car moves. In this mode, you'll have a record of where your car has been, even if you can't get online right away to track it. It will cost you 24 "tracking credits" (about $1.20), so make sure you disarm this function before you go for a cruise.
Tracking The Snitch
Inside the Snitch is a mechanical motion sensor. If the Snitch (or your car) shakes, the unit will send a "motion alert" to your e-mail. Once the Snitch detects movement, it automatically sets up a GPS perimeter around itself. If the Snitch leaves this security perimeter, a second alert message is sent to you to tell you that your car is on the move. This alert can be sent to two e-mail addresses and text messaged to two cell phones. According to Blackline GPS, the Snitch knows the difference between a simple vibration and actual movement. We took the Fairlane-with the Snitch in it-to lunch. Sure enough, once the Fairlane moved outside the pre-set perimeter, it was tracked every five minutes for two hours. It even caught me heading back to the office. [Steve, we need to talk about those two-hour lunches.-ed.]