Everyday Mobile Phone Can Act as ‘Live’ Tracking Device

Trisent Communications Ltd, has achieved a world-first with new mobile phone technology that means employers can elect to constantly and accurately track their employees whereabouts at any time or place during the working day.

The young Scottish company has developed a cost-effective system that allows mobile phone locations to be tracked continuously in real-time using standard unmodified phones without the need for additional equipment to be installed within the cellular networks.

The existing alternatives ? either a global satellite positioning system (GPS) or the network operator controlled mobile phone positioning service (cell-ID), are limited and prohibitively expensive. GPS tracking requires investment in specialised handsets or vehicle installations, and cell-ID ?location request? is typically slow and inaccurate.

Trisent received £300,000 in venture capital funding from Edinburgh based Sigma Technology Management in April 2005, and the company plans to raise a further £500,000 in second round funding later this year.

The test launch of the revolutionary technology has proven a success with four major location service providers partnering with Trisent to offer the new service, which is now fully operational across the whole of the UK. There is also increasing international interest and plans to deploy the system into Europe during 2007.

As a member of Wireless Innovation, Scotland’s national initiative supporting wireless and mobile technologies, Trisent received crucial market intelligence and high level introductions that the company believes “were essential in helping to formulate our business strategy”.

In the UK there are over 500,000 phones being located on a regular basis, and 200,000 vehicles tracked by GPS. The UK positioning market is worth over £120 million and growing rapidly. The arrival of Trisent’s fully automated, “live” tracking system is expected to accelerate this growth as it is removes cost barriers to make the service more accessible to the wider business community.

“Until now, tracking the location of people and vehicles has been an expensive, slow and inaccurate business. At about 25p a location request, multiple requests on multiple phones becomes uneconomical for most businesses,” said Dr Gordon Povey, Trisent?s founder and Managing Director.

“Likewise, GPS tracking equipment costs have limited growth in the market and the short battery life of handheld GPS devices is another factor. Trisent?s system works passively on everyday mobile phones, so it?s always-on, is affordable, and works anywhere in the UK that has mobile coverage.”

One of the first providers in the UK to offer Trisent?s mobile phone tracking solution is FollowUs. Kevin Brown, a Director of FollowUs commented:

“The Trisent location data is more accurate than standard mobile phone location solutions, and the fixed cost of the solution provides a substantial cost saving for customers that require multiple locations per hour. It is a real alternative to GPS and so we are marketing Trisent technology alongside our GPS solutions. FollowUs now have 68,000 registered users and we believe that Trisent’s technology addresses the needs of some of our existing customers and will attract many new customers.”

Alisdair Gunn, Technology Manager for Wireless Innovation said: “Trisent have found a real niche in a fast developing marketplace and Wireless Innovation has been working closely with Gordon and the team to ensure the technology is market ready. We believe that once the market starts using their technology in their applications, it will be a serious competitor for GPS and existing alternatives.”

The Trisent system is always aware of the phone location and when the person moves the system updates the location automatically and keeps a record of where they were, at any time. This means that if you want to know where someone was at 9.45am last Friday you can easily find out.

The new services are primarily being targeted at business users who need to locate their employees in real-time. There are real benefits for employers who need to keep track of their employees whereabouts for operational or security purposes. They may also wish to view their previous locations for a wide variety of other reasons.

Applications for the technology are wide. For example, a company may want to assign a job to the nearest available employee, or a health authority may want to know that lone workers can be located quickly if there is an emergency.
Trisent’s location accuracy already exceeds that which can be obtained from network-based phone locating and this accuracy will continue to be improved.

Trisent has spent many years developing the technology which can now be targeted at a wide range of markets. The company is also working on a small device for vehicle and asset tracking based on the same technology but with even higher accuracy. A new  product is planned for security applications that provides an alarm, alert and locate function, again based on a standard mobile phone. This will enable workers in dangerous environments to summons assistance to the correct location quickly.