Well, it seems that the next version of SPOT is out (
). Well, it's out, but not out. Apparently, stores are selling it, but customer service won't answer any questions because they haven't launched it yet. They have only vague plans to launch "this summer".
Some features are swimmer friendly! Such as: "Tracking options let you choose the capture rate that best suits your movement: 2.5-, 5-, 10-, 30- or 60-minute increments". Others make me wonder: "With Motion Activated Tracking, SPOT Gen3 knows when you’re moving and when you stop to make camp; it stops sending tracking info until you start moving again."
It seems the motion tracking is based on vibration. I'm wondering if the vibration of a boat will be enough to keep SPOT logging. They've got an FAQ for this (
) which says "SPOT Gen3 tracking is smarter than ever! A built in vibration sensor sends tracks only when you are moving. When the device is stationary for more than five minutes SPOT Gen3 will enter Suspended Track mode. SPOT Gen3 will automatically send, at least, one more track from your resting location. While at rest, SPOT Gen3 will not send tracks. Tracking will automatically resume after the vibration sensor detects the unit has begun moving again."
I suppose you could always tether it to a buoy and let it toss amongst the waves -- surely that would keep the vibration sensor going? I'm not sure that it's a good idea, though.
Does anyone know anything more about this?
I heard back from SPOT regarding their new Gen3 Spot device. Here are my questions and their responses:
>How sensitive is the vibration detection? If the Gen3 were on a boat in calm waters, is the device going to turn itself off?
NO - On a boat, it should never suspend unless it is in “dock mode”. No one but individuals tracking boats that are often docked in the water should use dock mode.
It’s intention is to save batteries by not sending the same location over and over again once the unit senses it has stopped moving. It will still send a message or two to make sure that the last point is captured after it senses no vibration for 5 minutes. That means that depending on which tracking interval you have, you might never stop sending points for short stops.
> Let's say I am in a strong current and barely making progress until the tide changes. Do I need to manually cause vibration in order to keep the device alive and tracking my points?
It is a vibration sensor not a location sensor. We only use location to make determinations if in “dock mode.” No one but individuals tracking boats that are often docked in the water should use dock mode.
It will keep vibrating and therefore keep sending your location on most small vehicles with a running motor. If it is on the person, it is unlikely they can be still enough long enough to meet the requirements of “no vibration”.
> What's the radius the device uses to determine whether or not you have moved so the device turns itself back on?
It is a vibration sensor not a location sensor. We only use location to make determinations if in “dock mode”.
I'm going out to get a spot today. I'm not thrilled about the 12 month contract. I noticed Delorme has a product for which you can suspend the contract when you don't need it. Anyone ever tried Delorme?
There's a danger of some confusion here and the answers back from the supplier don't help, in fact calling a SPOT a vibration sensor is weird!
As far as I can see its just an update that seeks to maximise battery life so, a bit like your TV remote, it powers down into a kind of hibernate mode. It would seem that any vibration of the SPOT will cause it to wake up and transmit its position. I would imagine that a boat or even kayak would have enough vibration and movement to keep the unit out of hibernation if used to track a swimmer.
Coincidentally, when waiting in an airport Lounge returning on Monday night from the Toreonos Marathon Swim we got talking to a private jet pilot who showed us one of these:
He told me this is what he would have used if he'd had to ditch in the Atlantic. It pairs with a smartphone and links into the Iridium low-earth orbit constellation (I think SPOT uses Globalstar which is similar) and not only transmits position but also enables two-way text messaging emails and data services. We reckoned that this kind of beast, paired with a smartphone, would overcome the problems many people have when swimming out of reach of mobile phone base stations. Naturally you'd need a waterproof smartphone for total reliability but I am sure it would be great, and cheaper, for many of the EC boats too where the support crew want to get info back to fan-clubs etc.
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