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CTIA Fall 2004

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i-mate Wherify Sony Ericsson  

One of the most unique devices on display on the show floor was the GPS Locator Phone from Wherify. This incredibly tiny device is actually a fully-functioning GSM phone and remote GPS receiver all in one, yet is smaller than just about any standalone GSM phone or GPS receiver on the market.

 

The device is not designed to compete with standard mobile phones. It's a niche product designed for parents to give to kids, or for older users who only need a phone for emergencies.

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With that in mind, the phone doesn't include a full keypad. Instead, there are simply several speed-dial buttons on the front, which only dial pre-set numbers. It's about as no-frills as it gets.

 

The Locator Phone comes in two versions: one with five speed-dial buttons and a small display, and a simpler model with just two big speed-dial buttons.

The speed-dial numbers, as well as an optional list of allowed incoming callers, are configured remotely via the password-protected web site and specially-coded SMS messages. This allows parents to keep their kids from using the device for casual calls to friends, etc.

The web site is also where location info is retrieved. So for example, if a parent has given the device to a child, the parent can log in to the web site at any time to see their child's exact location.

The GPS Locator Phone is expected to be available in the first quarter of 2005 for about $150, with service starting at $15 per month. The device will work with any GSM carrier, regardless of whether they have deployed E-911 or location-based services. Dual-band GSM versions will be available for both North America and Europe / Asia, with a CDMA version expected in mid-2005.

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