Project Description

Locate Your Loved Ones
I truly hate to admit this, but I am one of those dog people. You know the people. When they are with other ‘dog people,’ they can easily have long in-depth conversations about how their dog is doing. Sometimes they stay home on Friday night just to spend time with the dog. The worst part of being a ‘dog person’ is comparing a friend’s situation with their children to something similar going on with their dog—and yes I have done this on rare occasion.

Even though I consider myself a ‘dog person,’ I have never taken my dog to a dog park because I am terrified about letting her off her leash. So when my editor suggested I try a new GPS device to track my dog’s whereabouts, I jumped at the opportunity.

The device—PocketFinder from Location Based Technologies—is designed to track people or pets. Common uses include tracking children, teens and drivers, pets, special needs and seniors, or outdoor enthusiasts.

When I first received the device, I was a bit taken back by the size. The device is about 2 inches and is circular in shape. While this fits nicely in a pocket, I was concerned about strapping the device to my dog’s neck. You see, my dog is scared of her own shadow, and I was worried she was not going to react favorably to this device hanging from her collar. But, quite honestly, the device is so lightweight (only 1.4 ounces) she barely noticed it was even there.

Here is how it works: With the device secured on my dog’s collar, I am able to log on through the PocketFinder Website or through an app on an iPhone or iPad and track the location of my pet. I can view the devices on a dashboard (I only had one device for my dog but PocketFinder users can have multiple devices for pets, people, and vehicles).

To begin, I went to the PocketFinder Website and logged in with my username and password. I began the setup process by clicking the “My Account” tab and configured my contact book, which included adding my mobile phone number and email address so I could receive alerts from the system. I then went back to the dashboard, selected my device, and clicked on identification. Here I was able to name my device and input a picture of my dog. Next, I went to the zone icon and created a new zone called “Home.” Creating a circular zone around my house, I indicated if she left this area, I should receive both a text and email notification.

Where’s my Dog?
Once I was all set up online, my husband and I grabbed the dog and took her for a walk. I was slightly discouraged when I didn’t receive a text immediately after we left the zone. Under Power Management, the option I had selected locates every 10 minutes and provides zone alerts every five minutes, with an estimated battery life of two to three days. This option was the one that could locate my dog most frequently. However, at the time, the company was in the process of rolling out a new mode to track every 60 seconds—which to my understanding uses the battery at a much faster rate.

While my husband was still out with the dog, I ran home, logged onto the Website to check the location of the device. While GPS is never 100% accurate, I did find the pings were fairly close to where the dog had been, and I did receive a text message alerting me my dog had left the zone “Home.” In addition to being able to locate her, I was also able to view a history of where she had been. The more often I used the device, the more accurate the pings became.

After my initial trial using the Web-based interface, I also wanted to try the company’s new app for the iPhone and iPad. I downloaded the app onto the iPad (which requires updating to the latest iOS) and began tracking the location of the dog. The app has the same features found within the Web-based interface. I was able to create and change zones, view a history of where my dog has been, and see her current location.

Of particular interest on the app was the “Track” feature. By turning this feature on, I was able to find my dog’s location every 60 seconds for five minutes. During this time, the “Track” feature could not be turned off. While the “Track” feature used the battery at the much faster rate, I was able to ping my dog’s exact location every 60 seconds. I must say this feature is probably one of the most beneficial. If my dog ever got off her leash and ran away, I could easily find her.

Another convenient feature is the low-battery notification. I had originally set this up thinking I would never need to use this feature, but sure enough one evening I received a text message indicating the device had a low battery and I should charge it.

What’s in Your Pocket?
While I used this connected device to track my dog, the GPS is designed with multiple purposes in mind including tracking children, teens and drivers, pets, special needs and seniors, or outdoor enthusiasts. The company even suggests placing the device in your luggage—you will be able to find it even when the airlines cannot.

The company offers two different products—the PocketFinder GPS Personal Locator for people and pets and PocketFinder Vehicle for tracking cars. Essentially the technology is designed to connect everything in your world.

The cost for the PocketFinder Personal GPS is $149.95 and the Vehicle GPS locators are $189.95. Both products are available exclusively at Apple online and Apple retail stores. In addition to the cost of the device, users pay a monthly plan. The service plan includes everything in one flat rate of $12.95 per month. This includes full capability of personal GPS locator and GPS vehicle tracker technology, as well as access to all the capabilities of the software including alerts. Users can add as many devices as they would like and still only pay $12.95 a month for the service plan. The PocketFinder 2 App is free, and is available on the App Store.

After careful review of the product, I have determined the technology is easy to use and provides a high level of security and convenience for a family. While the cost is very reasonable, personally I am unsure if I will be connecting my dog permanently anytime soon. If I had an elderly parent, young child, or teen that was driving, I would very much consider this service and connect everything in my world, including my dog.

But I am not sure I can rationalize $12.95 a month just for my dog. In hindsight, maybe I am not an over-obsessive dog parent after all.