LAS VEGAS — As new products go, the SPOT Satellite Messenger has quickly built an impressive resume, including the Consumer Electronics Show's 2008 Innovations Design and Engineering Award, which is no small feat in that annual mass of new product unveilings.
But most impressively, SPOT Inc., the Milpitas, Calif., unit of Globalstar, had been on the market for only six weeks when it was used in four potentially life-threatening rescues.
The SPOT Satellite Messenger incorporates both GPS and commercial satellite technology in a palm-size device that allows users to notify friends, family or an international 911 emergency call center with status messages based on their situation and need — from something as simple as "Here's where I am, everything is fine," to something as critical as "here's where I am (within 5 feet) and I need emergency help immediately."
"The other GPS products show you exactly where you're going to die (in an emergency situation)," said Darren Bassel, marketing director for the SPOT. "This has the capabilities to not only save your life, but also let your family know your condition, whether good or bad. There is nothing else like it."
Additionally, especially where the confident, experienced, "I-don't-get-lost" outdoorsman is concerned, the SPOT has practical, non-emergency hunting and fishing applications.
And best of all, it's priced as practically as it functions — $149 for The SPOT and $99 per year to activate unlimited use of the device.
That "unlimited use" could be considerable, when you begin to understand the practical applications of the SPOT's use in marking everything from places where you caught a fish to trees revealing deer rut marks.
When you get home, through the use of Google Maps, you can create a personalized version of the water or terrain you've covered.
But it's the emergency applications that have produced the SPOT's headlines so far.
The second example begs for a full explanation of the SPOT's four key functions:
No one ever expects to be involved in an emergency situation. The multifunction ability of the SPOT makes it a valuble item to carry on a daily basis, particularly in areas where cell phones may not function. But when the unexpected happens, the SPOT becomes invaluable, using its GPS and commercial satellite functionality to send messages nothing else on the market is capable of doing.
According to the manufacturer, there are only four places in the world where the SPOT won't function — sub-Saharan Africa, an area of the deep Pacific Ocean and the North and South poles. Everywhere else, if you've got a clear line of sight to the sky, you're covered by the SPOT.
For more information, see the website at www.findmeSPOT.com or call 408-933-4518.
Set your sights on the show floor in our 2008 SHOT show Las Vegas gallery.