GPS tracking is usually pricy, with recurring expenses. The i.AM crowdfunding project hopes to change that.
Tracking the position of an item isn't anything particularly new in itself. Automotive fleets are tracked, people are tracked, and sometimes even packages are tracked. Generally speaking, these services have monthly fees associated with them like a subscription service. The people running the indiegogo campaign to bring i.AM, or Intelligent Asset Management, to market are hoping to change things a bit.
The i.AM system tracks whatever you want and delivers updates via SMS. This is a preferred method because SMS is available in much more diverse areas than any other cellular communication method. Not only that, but the power required to wake up the system and send an SMS is tiny compared to establishing other connections and transmitting data. They don't force you to use a specific provider, either. You simply put in the SIM card of your choice and use whatever service you wish.
Their interface looks fairly intuitive and allows for some nice features such as tracking multiple units at the same time, setting up "geo fences" or geographical areas of importance, charting changes in direction, and even clicking down to the street view of any tracked point via google maps. You can also graph data based on changes in speed or distance.
The features of the i.AM are listed as:
Quad-band GSM/GPRS engine
GPS receiver with SiRFstar III chip set
Standard microUSB charger port
Power consumption ~5mA or less in STANDBY mode, translating into two to three weeks standby with 2450 mA battery
In POWER OFF mode, using e.g., a motion sensor to activate the device, power consumption is 10uA for the main system and 140uA for the sensor (both worst case, plus some leakage). This translates into a battery life between one to two years
expansion ports for adding motion sensors or external logging equipment
Another interesting aspect of this campaign is that they are donating some of these tracking units to a charity. For every unit purchased at the 89£ (US$118) level, they are donating one unit to the Technology For Change project. That is quite a nice gesture if you ask me!