Vodafone considers Auckland-made tracker device

Vodafone is considering using Auckland-developed tracking technology to help subscribers find lost cellphones.

Vodafone is considering using Auckland-developed tracking technology to help subscribers find lost cellphones.

As reported in April (NZ firm readies GSM tracking service), Auckland firm Network Technology is trialling prototypes of its tracking technology, Secure Net Technology (SNT), and says commercial products should be ready by year-end.

The system works by calculating the position of a modem-sized device located anywhere in New Zealand covered by Vodafone’s GSM cellular network. It then transmits data over the network to a remote monitoring station which displays its geographical location on a computer screen.

Executive director Kerry Harris says SNT can locate cars and boats and track security personnel and prisoners.

The three-man firm says it has spent more than $1 million over six years securing the patents for its product.

Network Technology is targeting Vodafone as his firm uses the 021 network, but is also seeking partners for other related products, such as car-tracking devices. “We are talking to local and overseas manufacturing firms,” says Harris.

Vodafone spokeswoman Alison Sykora confirms Vodafone has been in contact with the company. “We will look at what they are doing but it is too early to say what it might lead to,” she says.

Ricoh photocopying is trialling the system and Harris expects commercially available products on the market by the end of the year.

Network Technology says progress has been boosted by help from the KiwStartUp programme, involving Microsoft, Clear and Compaq.

“We found it very useful. It made us re-look at what we were doing in terms of R&D,” says Harris.

The programme meant Network Technology was able to develop a working prototype to locate cellphones.

In addition to Climate Dynamics, KiwiStartUp.net is helping Christchurch-based Traxium develop a business-to-business exchange to service the freight industry.

Traxium commercial director Tony Kan says the programme’s advice “boosted enthusiasm” at the company and will help its release its product in September.

Compaq director of e-business Todd Irving says the three months of support under KiwiStartUp.Net for the first batch of three "winners" has officially finished, but they are being allowed to keep their loaned equipment a little longer to help them finish their projects.

The deadline passes next week for the second round of applications, whose three winners will be announced in September. Overall, the scheme aims to help 12 New Zealand firms a year.

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