Innovation That Matters

Device turns smartphones into satellite communicators

Work & Lifestyle

All the myriad benefits of today’s smartphones amount to no more than the proverbial hill of beans if no cellphone signal is available. We’ve already seen a few solutions for off-grid connectivity — Range Networks’ open source phone service, for example — but nothing quite like SPOT Connect. Launched just last week by Globalstar’s California-based Spot subsidiary, SPOT Connect is a satellite communicator capable of sending messages over the Globalstar satellite network from a smartphone operating system. Smartphone users begin by downloading the SPOT Connect app. Then, when they’re out of range, they pair their phone with the SPOT Connect device using Bluetooth. SPOT is currently compatible with smartphone operating systems including Android; others will be incorporated later this year. In any case, once it’s connected, the SPOT device links the smartphone to communication satellites, enabling users to send text messages, short emails and SOS messages including GPS coordinates, as well as to perform tasks like updating Facebook and Twitter. Users can create contact groups and store up to 10 predefined messages for quick reference and sending, and an on-device SOS button provides standalone emergency operation. Winner of this year’s CES Innovations Award in Design and Engineering in the Personal Electronics category, the waterproof, 3.7-ounce system is scheduled to begin shipping this month. Pricing is USD 169.99 plus an annual subscription service starting at USD 99.99 per year. Retailers specializing in GPS, outdoor recreation and personal electronics: this one’s for you! (Related: Free iPhone app enables instant, private group chat for any phonePersonal ‘cloud phone’ service for rural users without a handsetSolar smartphone comes with eco bragging rightsSocial networking from any phone in the developing world.) Spotted by: Rugenius at NOTCOT



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