GPS trackers are always interesting because they’re so versatile. Location-based services have exploded in the last couple of years, and are poised for more growth as we get further into the 2010′s. At the heart of all of these services is a GPS tracker, and a method of transmitting position data to a server, where a provider (or hacker) can do something useful with it.
In the same vein as the previous open source tracker from DSS Circuits (which seems to have shipped and posted source code on GitHub, hurray for successful Kickstarter projects), there is a new kid on the block looking to create an entire open source tracking platform.
The i.AM (Intelligent Asset Management) GPS tracking system from WRD Systems is also looking for some crowdfunding love. It includes plans for an open source tracking device, a desktop application and mobile apps to aggregate and organize tracker data. The company needs a healthy chunk of change to finish hardware and software development, plus do an initial production run.
The hardware looks small and clean, with an integrated GSM/GPS module and not a lot of extraneous components. It’s powered by an ATTiny 2313 and a SIMCOM SIM908C for tracking and transmitting. The software we have some questions about – why make a desktop app when you could accomplish the same thing with a web service? Hosting costs wouldn’t be too high, and it’s much more accessible, easier to integrate the data with other applications, or incorporate community improvements. Desktop just feels rather… 2004-ish. Also, while not unique to this project, we’d like to see these creators open up more of their development before the project gets made. It’s always difficult to show off a work in progress, but by taking feedback early and often, the end result is a product that is more aligned with users’ needs and wants.
The team and project seem to have a solid technical foundation, so it’s reasonable to assume that the core rewards will get filled. Interestingly, the Kickstarter page mentions collaboration with other makers of OSS trackers, including the DSS product. A unified platform for all manner of tracking devices would be a very interesting play, something a la Electric Imp or Cosm for the GPS world. Again, that would seem to necessitate a web platform, but we’ll be watching to see how this one turns out.