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GPS Phone Tells Others Where You Are 161

Posted by kdawson
from the twig-me dept.
An anonymous reader writes, "According to CNet, a company called Benefon has launched a cell phone with a built in GPS receiver — nothing new there. However, this particular GPS cell phone, called the Twig, does something extra. It can send your GPS coordinates to another Twig owner and then that person can navigate directly to you using the preloaded navigation software. Sounds like this could save a lot of time and effort when trying to explain to the in-laws where your new apartment is." The article says that the phone will cost £330 in the UK, or about $625.
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GPS Phone Tells Others Where You Are

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  • by lecithin (745575) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @07:45PM (#16667181)
    "Sounds like this could save a lot of time and effort when trying to explain to the in-laws where your new apartment is."

    Actually, I am purposly vague when I give my mother in law directions. If I can just delay her a few minutes w/o being found 'guilty', it helps.

    For that $625, I'd rather get her a hotel room.

  • Hey... (Score:5, Funny)

    by viper21 (16860) <scott@iqf[ ]dry.com ['oun' in gap]> on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @07:46PM (#16667195) Homepage
    Can you see me now?

  • Why should anyone "know" where I am.

    Now, if I was a travelling salesman who wanted to find places, I could see why it might be good, in case I got lost, but this nanny state concept is just getting out of hand ...
    • RTFA - it says (hell even the summary says) you *can* send your co=ordinates to the other phone, not that the other phone can get them without your wanting to.

      Then again, anywhere with E911 service this is usually already enabled. But you can usually disable it on the handset if you want.
      • It's a tinfoil passport wallet, actually.

        I sold the hat to someone from the White House.
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        RTFA - it says (hell even the summary says) you *can* send your co=ordinates to the other phone, not that the other phone can get them without your wanting to.

        Then again, anywhere with E911 service this is usually already enabled. But you can usually disable it on the handset if you want.

        Fuck TFA -- are you simpleminded enough to believe, in today's envionmment, that the cops won't have the capability to enable it at will? It took a decent amount of time before we found out that, with the Onstar bullshit,

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by NiteShaed (315799)

          he pigs will CALEA all over this as soon as deployment becomes widespread. If they haven't already.

          Becomes widespread? Can you even get a cellphone that isn't GPS enabled in the U.S. any more? AFAIK, all cellphones here have GPS to provide location data for e911, and I know Sprint already offers a service where the owner of a cellular account can get current position information on any phone he/she owns.

          Also, what does CALEA [wikipedia.org] have to do with this? While I'm sure there is/will be some precedent allo

        • by Catbeller (118204)
          Wish I had mod points for ya, buddy.
    • by rodgster (671476)
      /sarcasm on

      If you don't have anything to hide, why should you mind if the NSA knows where you are at all times and who you are with/near/etc? /sarcasm off

      I'll take one of the dumb phones thank you very much. And I don't have anything to hide, but I still believe in the Constitution, and believe it or not the Bill of Right IS part of the Constitution. Some of us have taken an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution, not the president, not the NSA, etc.

    • The phone is too expensive to give to children, but
      Disney markets something similar that is affordable.

      http://disneymobile.go.com/disneymobile/home.do [go.com] (DisneyMobile)

      Parents who want to give their kids some freedom but still
      know where they are snap these up. Sneaky kids ditch them
      (send them home with friends).
      • by db32 (862117)
        Neat idea, but I figure implanting a large antenna would be better. Not only do you get the location, they can't effectively leave it behind, AND you have that added benefit of making your daughter slightly more difficult to 'do' anything with. And yes, I have a baby girl and have been working on ways to combat the various problems of the male population years in advance of needing it. I figure my best bet at this point is to be a good shot at a long distance until I come up with a better plan. :)
        • by Ced_Ex (789138)
          Well, if your baby girl inherited your genes for attractiveness instead of her mother's, I'd say she's not going to have the problem of males advancing on her. However, if she got her mother's looks, you might want to start looking into sniper school.
  • In-laws?!? (Score:2, Funny)

    by RealGrouchy (943109)
    Sounds like this could save a lot of time and effort when trying to explain to the in-laws where your new apartment is.

    What use to me is a cell phone if I have to leave it on the other side of town?

    - RG>
    • The phone sends the GPS coordinates to another phone. You don't have to leave it with another person, which is why this phone is somewhat unique.
  • by 8127972 (73495) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @07:49PM (#16667227)
    ...... But what about the privacy issues that would surround this cell phone? Who would get access to this data? Under what circumstances? Can some law enforcement agency use the GPS data to prove that you did something illegal for example?

    • by necro2607 (771790)
      Yup, just another step towards digital tracking and/or ceased privacy of all people... mmm a dictator's dreams come true...
    • [sarcasm]Are you suggesting that an organization like the NSA would surreptitiously and illegally monitor such information or try to pressure the providers to handing it over without warrants? Pffft. Why do you hate America?[/sarcasm]
    • by pclminion (145572)

      Can some law enforcement agency use the GPS data to prove that you did something illegal for example?

      If you are planning to do something illegal (or you're just paranoid), why would you carry a phone with you that tracks your every movement?

    • I called in about some problem or another in a phone I have with Verizon. They wanted to upgrade my phone with a 2-year commitment, or for some phones with a 1 year commitment. The guy told me my current phone doesn't have some cellular-GPS tracking tech in it. All phones sold after 2004(?) had to have the new tech to be "911 capable" -- so someone dialing 911 for an emergency would have their location displayed on the 911 operator's display the same as land-lines currently are. My phone was grandfather
  • by DRACO- (175113)
    Boost mobile has an application, telenav that does the same exact thing.

  • Abuses this?

    People "on call" have a lot to look forward to, I think.
    • by AusIV (950840)
      Is it really abuse to make sure your employees are where you're paying them to be?
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        It depends on what hours they are tracking you. They shouldn't be tracking you at 12 AM on a saturday night, they have no business knowing where you are. I could see employers tracking down where you are, when you tell them you're stuck in traffic and you'll be late for work, and then they find out you're lieing in bed. Then again, if you have the kind of employer who you feel you have to lie to when you want to sleep in once in a while, then maybe you should be looking for a new employer.
        • by Blkdeath (530393)
          Then again, if you have the kind of employer who you feel you have to lie to when you want to sleep in once in a while, then maybe you should be looking for a new employer.

          What kind of employer is ok with their employees choosing to sleep in once in a while?

          If I did that to my boss, my next exmployer would be the lady at the Unemployment Office.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by aeoo (568706)

            What kind of employer is ok with their employees choosing to sleep in once in a while?

            A compassionate employer? Yes, they do exist.

            You may have to win this kind of treatment though. Don't expect employers do just hand this over on a silver platter to you. They won't.

            Employers are often dispassionate about their employees, but expect employees to be passionate about their place of employment. It can't work that way. Either both don't care about each other, or both do care.

            Employment is like marriage.

          • The kind of employer from whom all those nice aeron chairs were available for cut-rate prices on ebay.
            • by Blkdeath (530393)
              The kind of employer from whom all those nice aeron chairs were available for cut-rate prices on ebay.

              I find it hard to believe the nonchalant attitude I'm seeing up there. Seriously; somebody says employers who request punctionality are dispassionate and gets modded Insightful for it?

              Flex time is one thing, but "come whenever you feel like it"?!? Come on! Here in the real world ...

        • by AusIV (950840)
          The parent to my comment suggested that people who were "on call" had a lot to look forward to. I certainly agree that an employer has no right to track you when you're not being paid. As for sleeping in, there are some jobs where that might be appropriate, but that doesn't work well for people who have meetings to attend, students to teach, customers to assist, etc.
      • by aeoo (568706)

        Is it really abuse to make sure your employees are where you're paying them to be?

        If that's what you are in fact paying them for, it's not abuse. Otherwise it is. Employing someone is not the same thing as owning them. There is a difference between being a slave and being an employee. A slave is property of its master during enslavement. So, if you say that during my working ours I am a property of my employer, you are saying I am enslaved for the duration of my workday.

        You can't pay me enough to be

        • You can't pay me enough to be your slave. If you ever tried to own me, I'd kill you. If I couldn't kill you, I'd kill or destroy anything that had to do with you. I'd burn your fields and break your tools. In fact, that's exactly what slaves commonly did.

          Uh, no. If that were true then slavery would not have been as immensely profitable as it was. While there may be rare aberrations where something like the above occurred, those involved were brutally punished, maimed or killed, as examples to others. There
          • by aeoo (568706)
            You doubt it? You better believe it.

            I'm one of the few warriors still left on this god-forsaken planet.
      • by G-funk (22712)
        Yes, unless you're running a "crowd for hire" business. I don't know about you, but I'm employed to do stuff, not to be in the building. If enough stuff gets done, who gives a fuck where I am? If stuff doesn't get done, then get rid of me. What a novel idea.
  • Instead of buying $600+ of hardware, you could each get a $100 GPS unit and text msg each other the coordinates. Even better, make it interface with existing cell phones through a data cable. I wish electronics manufacturers would start making things more modular instead of All-In-One!!!111.
    • by msobkow (48369)

      There is no reason the GPS locator data could not be sent automatically in virtually any format, including an XML email body, whether forwarded from a text messaging account or via the web browser in many phones.

      Certainly I don't see this as a price-doubling "feature".

      More like a drag and drop from the GPS locator field to an email body.

    • by enosys (705759)
      There are Java applications for phones which can interface with GPS receivers through bluetooth. One good example is Mobile GMaps [mgmaps.com], which is a J2ME client for Google Maps which can interface with an external GPS over bluetooth or directly use the GPS receiver in some phones. (Not to be confused with Google Maps Mobile [google.com] which is actually from Google.)
      • by BigCheese (47608)
        The BlackBerry Pearl maps app supports Bluetooth.

        Now I need a Bluetooth GPS.
  • Sounds like this could save a lot of time and effort when trying to explain to the in-laws where your new apartment is
    And we'd want to help the in-laws find the place because........?
  • Lets say a jealous tech savvy ex gets a hold of one, and you happen to not be tech savvy (of course none of us). They set it up to always broadcast your location so they can follow you around and check up on you.

    Its like some companies make products just itching to be the subject of some whacked out news story.
  • I'd rather wait for a mod that allows the phone user to feed false coordinates to others... Including simulations of stuff like driving a car or walking. Now THAT would be nice.
  • then the two of you will circle each other forever.
  • I just hit the speed dial for home...
    "Hi, I'm at Fry's... yes, again."
    • i just hope the precision on this is really, really high. that way i can find my !#^!^ phone when i lay it down somewhere randomly (and the ringer is off!)
  • I once heard a quote that said something along the lines that high tech consumer technology is old news to high tech military research. That idea really came to mind when I was reading this - I immediately wondered just how secure this feature is and whether or not it would be easy to use for "other" purposes. Even worse, who knows if there is back door code in the phones firmware???...

    Actually this makes me think of a great new product - tin foil cell phone faceplates? OK, maybe not...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by LostCluster (625375) *
      Really this phone is doing nothing much new, all newly-activated phones in the USA now must have some way of determining the phone location (GPS, tower strengths, whatever) for e911 compliance. This phone is simply giving the user the right to transmit that value to somebody of their own choosing... that's the news.
    • Surprisingly, tinfoil isn't thick enough to suppress cell phone signals (at least for incoming calls). I tried wrapping my Treo 650 entirely in tinfoil and then I dialed it's number from another telephone, and the Treo rang. I did eventually locate a metal box with walls thick enough to suppress incoming (and presumably outgoing) telephone calls however.
      • by necro2607 (771790)
        heheh, yeah, no I know a simple layer of tinfoil wouldn't block it - I tried doing a double-thick layer to shield my studio monitors (speakers) from the high powered GSM signal when my phone comunicates with the cell tower.. didn't do a DAMN THING. My next attempt will be a faraday cage of primitive sorts, some chainmail-like wire mesh to wrap around the speakers (mesh instead of solid so as to allow the sound to pass through unscathed of course)...
  • Nothing new or innovative here, this technology has been widely available on phones in Japan for years. And $625? I got my phone with the same features for free when I signed up for a 1 year plan. Since navigation in Japan is difficult (not much street signage, non-square blocks, crowded areas) I often send my GPS location to my friends with GPS-enabled phones.
    • by tricorn (199664)

      I have a couple two-way radios with a similar feature. It doesn't have any navigation facilities, so you have to figure out how to actually get there, but you press a button and it sends your current location to the other person, and it shows up on their map tagged with your name. It doesn't update the location, it only gets sent when you request it to be sent.

      • I suspect you are using the Garmin Rino. FRS/GMRS 2 way radio with GPS.

        This technology has been in the marine industry (Recreational portions too) since 1988. It is a USCG [uscg.gov]supported system called Digital Selective Calling [boatsafe.com] or DSC [uscg.gov] for short. The system allows for Marine band VHF radios to communicate on a digital level to send data. It is instrumental on "Good Samaritan" rescues on the water, as it allows a general distress to be sent with your coordinates included.

        An additional benefit is the ability
        • by tricorn (199664)

          Audiovox is the brand name. I bought two at Best Buy, open package discount, for $70 total. GPS is capability is fairly poor, takes a long time to lock in sometimes, no external GPS antenna capability, limited track memory, no way to upload or download tracks or waypoints. It does have a code that it sends when you transmit, but that is only used as a filter; there's no actual security on it. There are only about 15 codes (code 0 means don't filter, I think, just use normal squelch, don't transmit a cod

    • Re:Yawn... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Zadaz (950521) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @11:56PM (#16669291)
      Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. And the other person only needs a web-enabled phone to see where I am [duogate.jp].

      But then again I bought this phone in Japan 2 years ago for less than $200. It only has:
      - GPS/Navi
      - TV/DVR
      - 2 MP camera.
      - Music player
      - QR Code reader.
      - English and Japanese translation dictionaries.

      Probably time to upgrade.
    • by 10Ghz (453478)
      "got my phone with the same features for free when I signed up for a 1 year plan."

      If you think that your phone was "free", then you are deluding yourself.
      • Ok, well, my plan is $30 a month. Over 1 year that's $360. Still around half the price of this phone, including service, if that's the way you want to look at it.
        • by 10Ghz (453478)
          Well, Japan has always been different. GPS-enabled phones are not really available (yet) in the west.
  • location awareness (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Keruo (771880) * on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @08:27PM (#16667667)
    Location awareness is one of the key elements in 4G spec.
    It opens several great possibilities for applications using your current location.

    At library or movie theatre? no problemo, phone goes in silent mode automatically.

    Focused advertising, when going past some store, you get discount offers to your phone.(where permitted by law)

    Need to find restaurant but stuck in weird part of city? no problemo, your cell phone
    knows where you are and can probably recommend good place, and even give directions how to get there.

    You're lost and you fell down and broke your hip/ankle etc and can't walk? no problemo, your phone
    can give your location with greater accurancy than triangulating by cell towers.

    Those are just some crude ideas, the possibilities are almost limitless.

    GPS phones from Benefon aren't that much of news tho, they have been manufacturing them since ~2000 or so.
    • At library or movie theatre? no problemo, phone goes in silent mode automatically.

      Bad idea. I don't want my phone doing ANYTHING that I don't want it to do "automatically". I miss enough calls as it is because my phone doesn't vibrate hard enough for me to feel it in my pocket - and now you want to automatically move MY phone to silent mode without telling me?

      I agree that phones in quiet places are a problem. But this is not the solution.
  • There seems to be a distinct lack of GPS enabled phones (I dont mean a PDA or smartphone, I mean normal phone) here in australia :(
  • You know... A while back I was called by this hot sounding girl who dialed the wrong cellular #. I mean her voice made me think porn star Jenna... Long story short, I wanted to puke and I'm not kidding. Anyhow, this device could have saved me the headache and queasiness... Just think "Fugly girl @ three o'clock". How can I place my order?
  • Verizon has already done this with the Migo phone and the new application for finding you kids called VZ Chaperone. The application is free on the parents phone once the service is setup on the LG Migo.
  • by SonicSpike (242293) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @08:46PM (#16667817) Homepage Journal
    Ham radio operators have been doing this for quite a while. It's called Automatic Position Reporting System.

    It was developed by a ham radio operator and the Naval Academy:

    http://www.aprs.net/ [aprs.net]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/APRS [wikipedia.org]
  • by MDMurphy (208495) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @08:50PM (#16667849)
    The Garmin NavTalk had a phone that did this back in 99 in the US. It was an AMPS phone and sent the positions via quick burst of DTMF tones. It was a cute trick for an analog phone. You could see your position on the map display, the person you were talking to, and get navigation information to lead you to them. They did a GSM version, but if was European only and I never saw that one.

    You had some control as to who could poll your position, or you could trigger a "send". A couple companies had web sites that would let you see the position of the phones on a map. They did it by decoding the DTMF tones the Garmin spit out.

    http://www.garmin.com/products/navTalk/ [garmin.com]

  • by thelost (808451) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @09:02PM (#16667933) Journal
    ok before this gets out of hand it's a phone with GPS that allows you to send your location to other people, if you so decide.

    Please cram it with the Big Brother bullshit, the Nanny State clap trap and please remove your tin foil hats - unless you're after some free karma which you surely will, while saying nothing.

    The slashdot article headline is misleading, it suggests the phone is in control of your private details, rather than you. One quick glance at the article and you can see this paragraph which states:


    The Twig alert service lets you send your location to someone in an emergency at the touch of a button. Finally, you can log on to Twig's finder service online and search for friends who also own a Twig. If you're thinking about privacy, the service will only work if the other person consents -- in other words, you can control who has the opportunity to stalk you.


    It's a sodding phone with GPS and the ability to tell others where you are, that's all.
  • So, telling your wife that you're in a busy meeting while you're sitting in a pub at the other end of the town is not going to work ;-).
    • You know, It's not that unusual for my company to have business meeting at a local pub. The place has to serve food, and we can write off the meal, and usually one or two drinks fit in the standard budget. If the meeting involves Corporate, then no recipts are necessary. Truth is this is the only way our local quarterly staff meetings can be held. Bribe us with food and beer!

      Phil
  • The GPS would be much more useful in conjunction with SMS than voice calls. A high percentage of mobile voicecalls are already just "where are you?" If my phone could ask yours where you are, show me on the map, with just a couple button pushes, then let me call you if necessary, we'd probably have a lot less people on public transport with annoying ringing and semversations.
  • can expect one of these for Christmas.
  • Ok, obviously this is *technology*, not a plan to take over the world..(Sorry guys, I've been meditating and no longer think everything in the world is evil)..

    With that, it would be nice to turn *off* this feature without turning off the phone. That would disallow much potential abuse by those who are "curious" to watch your whereabouts for whatever reason (I still realize, however, that evil exists)

    If I could turn it off (and *know* it's turned off, AND *not* have it turn on automatically if I, say, turn t
  • ... for $200 I can buy the in-laws a GPS unit for the car.
    Stupid.
    • by 10Ghz (453478)
      But that GPS-unit would not be able to send and receive phone-calls, now would it? You are comparing a in-car GPS-device to a portable GPS/GSM-hybrid.
      • by mre5565 (305546)
        The in-laws can type an address into the GPS unit I bought them (indeed,

        I can even program in the locatio in "my favorites" before I give it to them). This can be done without paying Verizon or whatever the $50 extra or so per month for GPS service.

        It's a problem looking for a solution.

        Now if you tell me there's a blue tooth cell phone and and a blue tooth gps that allow the latter to accept coordinates from the former (which are received via a text message), then I'll get a little more excited. As lon

        • by 10Ghz (453478)
          "The in-laws can type an address into the GPS unit I bought them"

          What that has to do with making phone-calls is beyond me. So they can type an address there? Whoop-de-fucking-do! Can they make phone-calls with it? Last time I checked, making a phone-call is different thing that typing an address.

          "This can be done without paying Verizon or whatever the $50 extra or so per month for GPS service."

          Isn't GPS free to use? What makes you think that you would have to pay for GPS-service?

          "It's a problem looking for
  • First off the ability to 'track' a phone, either intrinsic to the phone or extrinsically by triangulating off of the cell towers the phone transmissions are reaching, is not new nor news.

    And the ability to 'track' such phones has been a boon to some, a harassment to others.

    The Massachusetts State Highway Dept. had a showdown with snow plow contractors several years ago, requiring they carry such 'tattle tale' phones. One obvious application was near real-time tracking of road clearing and coordinating thi

  • It can send your GPS coordinates to another Twig owner and then that person can navigate directly to you using the preloaded navigation software.


    Wrist Machine: "Cold. Cold. Warmer. Hot, hot, hot, hot, hot, hot."
    .
    and
    .
    Phone tracks you FOR Soviet Russia!

  • This sounds like the perfect tool to shadow your significant other. Get a pair, then put one into his/her car...

    Other application: hide one in the car before you lend it to your teenage kid for the evening.

    I am sure this is going to be a successful gadget!

  • by billlion (101976)
    It is nothing new. The European version of the Motorola A780 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A780 [wikipedia.org]does this. It is a Linux flip phone with GPS and the CoPilot navigation/mapping software enables people the owner authorizes to track the phone on a web site.
  • Garmin already has 2-way radios that do this, over FRS or GMRS. It's a very neat feature, and has proved to be very useful a few times. You can also poll someone's position if they aren't responding, in case someone may be hurt and unable to respond. Very cool.
  • ok, ok, silly joke. When my phone's at that particular place, it's usually switched off anyways...
  • by madhippy (525384)
    so I guess we all know where cnet.co.uk are based then ....
  • Benefon is specializing in GPS phones, and has for a long time. The GSM model Benefon ESC! [gsmarena.com] came to market in like 1999 - and had the same features, a GPS receiver, builtin map and the possibility to send your location to either to generic GSM phone (containing coordinates only) or to another similar phone (and you could see the destination on the map). Granted, the company has gone close to going bankrupt a number of times, but it seems they are nowadays doing ok in their niche.
  • ...there's no system in place to send a text message with the coordinates you read off of your gps-enable cell phone, right?
  • Why do all the GPS-enabled phones tell everyone else where I am, but not me?
  • It's not a question asked often, or easy to find asked:

    Anybody hear of a way to hack that GPS tracking device in everyone's phones? I'm addressing this to those who understand why liberty is important.

    1) I'd like to REALLY shut off the GPS tracker when I don't want to be monitored. Either switch off the power to the chipset, or screen out the RF signal from the satellites.

    2) Failing turning off the tracker or screening the Lidless Eye from my phone, how about feeding it false data?

    3) Yes, I know they can tr

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