Even before CES 2015 officially begins Tuesday, there was plenty of new tech on display at CES Unveiled, the official International CES pre-show media event, which took place Sunday night. Unveiled is a great place to see unique products from smaller companies that may not have a huge presence on the CES show floor. One of the most interesting enterprise products at the event this year was a new line of tracking devices from Aspenta, a US-based telecom provider that specializes in global roaming for voice and data and connectivity for IOT and M2M devices.
The new Vectu line of global tracking devices allows individuals and enterprises to monitor the location of people, vehicles, and equipment around the world. The devices use both GPS data and cellular triangulation to determine the unit's exact location. Customers can track their assets via an app or Web portal and the data is encrypted for security.
The Vectu Nano ($79 US) is the smallest unit and designed to be carried in a handbag or pocket. In addition to being a tracker, the Nano has an S.O.S button that allows the user to signal that they need emergency assistance. The Vectu Max ($99) works like the Nano, but has a much larger battery (3,000mAh compared to the Nano's 300mAh). The Vectu Alarm ($99) is a permanently-installed version designed for vehicles.
While location trackers like this aren't new, Aspenta has done something interesting with the service plan pricing. Trackers that use cellular networks to transmit data obviously need a cellular account, which you'll have to pay for. If the device remains within the same country, the cost may not be significant consideration, as roaming charges likely won't apply. But traveling in places like Europe is a very different story.
As Joe Morgan, Aspenta Managing Partner and CTO, told me, it's easy to "drive through nine different countries" in Europe and quickly accumulate a lot of roaming charges. Aspenta is leveraging its global roaming market to keep the monthly cost of using its tracker very low—a flat rate of $2-$4 US per month (depending on which model of tracker you buy), and there's no contract.
The Vectu trackers work in over 190 countries and will be available in February. I haven't tested the products yet, but if they work as advertised, they could be a very affordable way for organizations and individuals to track their assets around the world.
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.