Check out the Invoxia LongFi GPS Tracker: It Uses Helium Hot Spots to Find Your Values

There are GPS trackers part of the mainstream in decades now, to the point that you can find many products available from retailers in the infant market for under $ 100. GPS tracking is still not as quick and seamless as what you see in movies, though. The units require a powerful add-on battery if you want it to last more than a week and need a monthly service plan to really work. If you’re just looking for a little peace of mind to make sure your car can be found if it’s stolen-or if your teen didn’t come home with it before the curfew-GPS tracking can be a expensive effort.

Enter the Invoxia LongFi Tracker, a simple device that offers many of the same features as GPS tracking but has a much longer battery life (up to four months on a single charge) and is free of charge per month service.

The secret of this new tracker is its connection to The Helium LongFi network, an exciting peer-to-peer wireless system that rewards people with Helium (HNT) cryptocurrency if they prepare and manage a corresponding hot spot. The LongFi network is a rotation of LoRaWAN (Long-Range WAN, said to provide 200 times the range of Wi-Fi), which operates in the unlicensed 902-928 MHz band in the US and is designed for low-bandwidth, long – range transmissions.

Commonly used for LoRa include door sensors, actuators (such as a garage door opener), and tracking device-all items that don’t need to be shipped anything other than occasionally. ping the network. LongFi adds blockchain to the mix, so any time a corresponding hot spot receives and processes one of the pings, it adds a timeline and location to its blockchain. Over time, hot spot operators that process blockchain transactions get HNT equivalent to most of the work done in their hot spot.

None of that has anything to do with the Invoxia tracker, though. It only uses the LongFi network as the backbone for transmitting location data. You won’t earn any HNT for buying or using an Invoxia device, but if you go through a corresponding hot spot, it’s the owner. As it turns out, there are a lot of things around: over 130,000 as I write this. You can see where everything is in a quick map. (It’s also important to remember that the device will always piggyback on your smartphone’s location services to update where you are when you’re on it nearby. Especially on this later.)

Hide and Seek

You can put the Invoxia device in anything you want to track – your car, bag, guitar box.

Photo: Invoxia

The device itself isn’t special-a small plastic rectangle with no buttons or switches, just a micro-USB port used for charging. It’s easy to confuse it with a USB power bank or (per my daughter) a vape pen, even if the inclusion of a small strap adds some trendy look to the item.

All the functions of the Invoxia tracker are managed through its mobile app. To use it, simply plug in the device to start charging it, then connect it using Bluetooth within the app. The system asks you a few questions, such as what track you are testing (e.g. car or truck or backpack), and how you want it to check its location. It can range from basic (every 10 to 14 minutes) to high (every 2 to 4 minutes), which affects accuracy as well as battery life. A built-in tilt sensor can also detect and alert you when, say, the motorcycle you’re tracking has run out.

I tested the device in my car for several weeks, using it around the Bay Area with Invoxia pulling. I doubted it would be useful-there is no Helium hot spot the size of my house and only a few in the town where I live-but I was immediately surprised to see the in-app map of my travel that grows with each trip I take.

Location tracking using Helium LongFi.

Christopher Null via LongFi Tracker

After a week of testing, however, I realized most of my good fortune was that Invoxia rode my phone’s location services instead of directly using the Helium network. I turned off Bluetooth on my phone, and my movements quickly died down days. It wasn’t until I toured several urban areas, including the heart of San Francisco, that the system started to register location pings. They are quite few and far between, and much more than the Helium map suggests. In the end the Invoxia will work well in many densely populated areas where there are many Helium hot spots (or if you have your phone nearby), but don’t expect to be able to make a minute’s log of that trip on Route 66.

While individual data points may be lacking in features, the overall picture painted by the system over time is effective. The map view is enjoyable, and simply zoom in on a day or go back to see the last six months of movement all. If you need more detailed resolution, the Invoxia also makes a tracker that uses the cellular network as its backbone, but this is what matters to battery life.

The battery life of this non -cellular version seems solid. In my testing, the device hit 88 percent remaining after a week of using the highest update setting. Also note that if you have an extra USB port in your car, you can leave the Invoxia tracker plugged in and not worry about the battery.

The tracker costs $ 129 and has three years of service (after all, the company says you can change the service plan for a reasonable fee). That’s a lot better than classic GPS trackers once you consider their subscription cost. And while the resolution isn’t perfect, it’s good enough for broad-stroke tracking of your valuables. If Helium leaves and becomes a global phenomenon, the vision of the device will be much better.

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