Tracking Key, GPS tracking for your clandestine bag of gadgets

GPS technology is becoming increasingly attainable by the average consumer. Decreasing prices have resulted in an increase in the number of portable GPS units on the road today. I recently picked up the entry level Garmin Nuvi 200W and find myself becoming increasingly dependent of the technology. Roughly one out of 10 vehicles I see on the road today has a GPS device stuck to their front windshield, and I’m not even making an effort to look.

While I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of GPS aided driving thus far, I have been a little disappointed by the fact that I am not able to download travel information & data – ideal for long road trips [from devices like the Garmin]. Fortunately, Rob from LandAirSea got in touch and provided the LAS Tracking Key.

LAS GPS Tracking Key

The overall appearance of the device is minimalistic; an unmarked oversized USB thumbdrive with the words "This side up" etched on one side. The strong magnet on the opposite immediately adds to the mystery of the device. What is it? What does it do? What can I use it for? And, how well does it work?

The LandAirSea Tracking Key is not your average GPS receiver

Powered by the U-Blox RCB-4H Antaris 4 GPS board, AirLandSea’s Tracking Key is a low power consumption GPS receiver with SuperSense – ideal for scenarios with low satellite signal.

Building interiors, airports, shopping malls, train stations and other places with obstructed views to the sky are a key challenge for uninterrupted GPS signal reception and for accurate position calculations. Under these challenging conditions, the GPS receiver must be able to detect the weakest signals perceivable in places with no direct views to satellites.

Unlike your standard automobile / portable GPS device, the LandAirSea Tracking Key is not interactive – meaning that the device is just a receiver. On its own, it will not direct you through an alternative route – like a TomTom – and will not guide you when you are lost – like a Garmin. The Tracking Key is a GPS based tracking device.

Although the Tracking Key may not have a screen or buttons to press, its basic design does do one thing well – tracking. Using GPS / A-GPS (Assisted GPS) technology, ALS’s Tracking Key can pinpoint and amass a significant amount of data for later processing using applications like Google Earth.

Real world case scenario usage

With obvious applications for use in both the Military and Law Enforcement sectors, the Tracking Key may raise privacy concerns in the eyes of the average consumer. However, the Tracking Key has real world usefulness. Consider parents with children unfettered by repeated requests to return home before curfew (where are they really going?), managers who need accurate travel and mileage details for company vehicles, road trip warriors, or worrisome automobile owners who suspect their vehicle is being abused by a spouse, child, relative, or valet driver?

  • Logs data, including speed, which can then be plotted out on virtual maps with software like Google Earth.
  • Runs on 2 AAA batteries for up to 2 weeks of tracking (varies based on number of hours driven per day).
  • Daily reports including overall driving activity, maximum speed, and miles driven.
  • Fantastic device for use on long road trips or group outings. With rich Google Maps in Google Earth, you can use stored data to tag important locations or stops.
  • Great for tracking where your child actually goes vs. where they said they were going.

Security and peace of mind knowing where your vehicle has been driven, how fast, and for how long with stop " go milestones.

LandAirSea Tracking Key is designed to track vehicles

The GPS Tracking Key is roughly the size of a big pack of Juicy Fruit gum. Shrouded in a veil of mystery, the plain black casing is marred only by engraved letters reading "This side up" and a strong magnet. After a brief perusal of the thin user guide, you immediately understand what the device was made for – discrete GPS tracking.

Because of its small size, discrete color, and rear facing magnet, the device can be stowed away in any number of locations ranging from the underside of a vehicle, within the front / rear bumper, rear trunk, front glove box, or underneath a driver / passenger seat. The included LandAirSea Tracing Key documentation explains the effectiveness of the device based on placement outside or within the vehicle.

Both the battery compartment – secured with four screws – and USB port receive protection from water & dirt with silicone seals. Two small LEDs inform the user of sufficient battery power & satellite activity.

Interacting with Tracking Key data results

The Tracking Key includes Windows-only software called Past Track which allows users to manage and interact with data collected by their GPS vehicle tracking receiver.

Download data Download data

From within Past Track, users can view data using the included US Maps software:

Tracking Key US Maps

Or, download Google Earth (free) and view imported data:

Tracking Key Google Maps

Both methods overlay vehicle activity atop your choice of mapping software. With the added benefit of creating interactive maps – placemarks & image overlays – with Google Earth, owners can re-create detailed maps using logged data.

LandAirSea Tracking Key – closing thoughts

The LandAirSea Tracking Key works extremely well as a GPS tracking device. Once placed within the vehicle, the Tracking Key was completely transparent tracking my vehicles every move. It was almost jaw dropping to see a 2 days of driving history quickly plotted out in Google Earth.

  • Discrete and effective. Once placed inside the vehicle, you forget it is present and tracking. Great at creating detailed stop & go travel history.
  • Laptop users will need to a) purchase a USB extension cable, or b) slide part of their computer off the edge of the table a little bit in order to plug the device in.
  • Great battery life using 2 AAA batteries. Would a little better if the device was rechargeable via USB.
  • Mac OS support is not yet available.

Privacy advocates should know that data logged by the LandAirSea Tracking Key is not transmitted externally and is available for your own personal use. The $299 LandAirSea automobile Tracking Key can be ordered direct from the manufacturer. What are your thoughts on personal GPS tracking devices for security, peace of mind, or leisure? [Digg this].

LandAirSea Tracking Key helps solve murder case

Thanks to Alan on the tip concerning the YouTube clip above exemplifying the usefulness of the LandAirSea GPS Tracking Key.

Discuss - 22 Comments

  1. Great review, but disturbing once I think about what this could do.

  2. Derek says:

    Really depends on your motives. I believe that GPS tracking devices can be very helpful in a variety of positive and negative situations.

  3. […] GPS technology is becoming increasingly attainable by the average consumer. Decreasing prices have resulted in an increase in the number of portable GPS units on the road today. I recently picked up the entry level Garmin Nuvi 200W and … Read More […]

  4. Nik says:

    This could come in really useful for my Africa trip. A friend and I are planning to take a car around southern Africa for 2 months, and this could give us some great data to look at when we get back to Europe.

    However, I may just use my N95.

  5. Derek says:

    However, I may just use my N95.

    I haven’t used the Nokia N95 for awhile. Is there a new GPS tracking application available on Symbian? I had trouble finding one when I was using the handset as my main device.

  6. Alan says:

    Now go to Youtube and search for Tracking Key. This great device it going to put a murderer away.

  7. Joshua says:

    I find a butter knife more disturbing than this GPS tracking unit. I mean think about it, a housewife can use a butter knife for cutting some delicious apples while a serial killer can use it to painfully bludgeon someone to death. My point is that tools are inherently neither evil or good.

  8. Alex says:

    Nice review and potentially good tool. I’ll have to add it to my shotgun & shovel kit for when and if I have a daughter who is dating.

    I’ll be such a bad daddy! ^_^

  9. Name says:

    My question is how did a GPS bug get in the accused car in the first place!?

  10. GPS Tracking says:

    His wife installed it in her husbands car because she suspected that he was cheating on her. There’s a also a news article on the story.

  11. Alana says:

    Wow I am so freaked out. I’m an outside sales rep for my company and I have suspected for a few months that they maybe tracking my car. I’m going to get my flashlight and look under my car right now!!! (nervous laugh)
    Question: My company issued Blackberry has GPS…can they track me with that?

    • John says:

      Yes, they can track you by the company provided Blackberry. The cell phone companies are required by law to be able to locate the phones either by GPS or cell phone tower triangulation (accurate to 672 yards) and they often market access to such data for corporate subscribers and even parental subscribers. Best to use your own cell phone plan and expense the costs back to the company, it may be necessary to maintain a less expensive plan then is available in order to be able to argue for keeping your own plan.

  12. fizik says:

    My question is how did a GPS bug get in the accused car in the first place!?

  13. Daniel says:

    I have wbt-201, a very small gps device you could easily put in your pocket. It is as well capable of logging your position. I use it while running and then extract the data of the track, the different heights and can combine it with my heart frequency monitor. gps is great for many things. greets, daniel

  14. Alfred Belanger says:

    Greetings!

    When do you expect tracker to be available in Mac OS?

    Thanks-

    AJB

  15. Jay says:

    I think its a great product now that I have one. Got it at http://www.ggppss.com

  16. Fred Gibson says:

    I would like to know the actual cost of this device, what other devices I need to retrieve data and review and is it “idiot” proof? I’m a dad that has a “troubled” 16 yr old that drives and I would like to see where he is going. This device looks like exactly what I need, but I’m not sure if I will be “smart” enough to use it. Can you provide me a website or send me an email that contains how to use this device and what I need to purchase other than the device to use it like I need to use it.

    I appreciate any help you can provide regarding this matter.

  17. Derek says:

    Fred, LandAirSea has a list of online retailers who have their products available for sale. The retail price is $199 (unless you can find it cheaper). Essentially, the device is idiot proof. There is practically no setup required aside from adding your own batteries. With batteries installed, the tracking key remains on (until the batteries are drained). Nothing else is required to use this device other than a free Google Earth download to plot data.

  18. ryan says:

    You can go to http://www.landairsea.com to learn more about the product or can call 847-462-8100 if youhave questions. Also, LandAirSea, the maker of the product, provide free technical support on all of their systems. They will make sure you can use the unit and will help you set-up the device step by step if needed

  19. Joanthan Walther says:

    do they make a gps tracking device that can be hardwired to a battery of a vehicle so you do not have to remember to change the batteries. Example if you want to leave on a piece of equipment or boat to be able to track if stolen.

    Thanks

    Jonathan

  20. Ramit says:

    will this work overseas as well ?

    • Derek says:

      The device should work just fine overseas. The tracker simply tracks your coordinates and utilizes Google Earth to create a visual of the activity.