This GPS tracker is helping police nab criminals, and can also track truant kids

Sat Singh July 14, 2017

TechmeetsBharat_band

Police departments of Indian states seem to be on the top of the tech game. After Haryana Police launched its Whatsapp report-a-cop drive that had over 100 policemen challaned for violating traffic rules, the police of another state are using an innovation from a Haryana agriculturist to nab criminals.

The device —  a small, discreet GPS tracker called the Track 24×7 Mini-Tracker — designed by Ashwani Sihag of Phullan village in Fatehabad district of the state, continually and accurately tracks any person or object it is attached to. Users can use an app developed by Sihag’s company, Sihag Innovations Pvt ltd, to access location details of the subject on their mobile or computer.

A senior IPS officer (the police department did not want to be named) learnt about Ashwani Sihag’s mini-tracker and approached him to procure two pieces. They used the devices to track suspects in a special case  

Sihag said a senior IPS officer (not Haryana Police; the police department did not want to be named) learnt about his mini-tracker and approached him to procure two trackers. They used the devices to track suspects in a special case. Since the tracker was in testing stage then, they had to get the location details from Sihag regularly. It seems like the police department was happy with the result as it asked Sihag to provide 50 more mini-trackers. No further information about how the trackers were planted on the suspects or informers was available from the police or from Sihag as the case was confidential.

That said, Bengaluru Police have been using GPS technology to track criminals since 2015.

A battery that lasts, and lasts

The mini-tracker has two fallback options for tracking of the subject and a very long battery life to ensure that location data is sent uninterruptedly.

The first fallback option is that while most GPS tracking devices rely on US satellites alone, his tracker takes location information from Russian satellite GLONASS as well. Secondly, it is equipped with a SIM card, so it can send location data using the nearest mobile phone tower too when GPS fails, say for instance, if the device is in the basement of a building.

He demonstrated how the device works to FactorDaily by monitoring the movement of his four-year-old son, who was in his school, 5km away, at that time.

Ashwani Sihag-GPS-Tracker
The tracker has an SOS button, pressing which sends an instant alert along with the location to contacts of the subject connected to the system

According to Sihag, the USP of his mini-tracker is its battery life, which can reportedly last for months. The device remains in hibernation mode until it’s prompted to send location details, which helps preserve battery.

“If you want the device to send you the location of the subject every two hours, you can set the frequency and it will do so,” said Sihag. He added that a person can set the frequency at every other minute or every five seconds as well, but that would consume a lot of battery.

The tracker has an SOS button too, pressing which sends an instant alert  along with the location to contacts (family members and friends) of the subject connected to the system.

According to Sihag, the USP of his mini-tracker is its battery life, which can reportedly last for months. The device remains in hibernation mode until it’s prompted to send location details, which helps preserve battery  

Sihag said the tracker can be used to safeguard various objects as well. For instance, if it is connected to a mobile’s Bluetooth and kept in a wallet, the tracker will send an alert if the wallet is picked and taken beyond a certain coverage area. Valuables such as cash, gold, jewellery can also be tracked this way, as can be vehicles. But Sihag feels its most valuable use would be in keeping track of lost elderly people and energetic children who wander far from their homes sometimes.

Also read other Tech Meets Bharat stories

While Sihag did not wish to reveal the details, he claimed to have received an inquiry from a wholesale dealer of GPS devices looking to order about 10,000 devices to sell to transport companies for tracking the movement of their vehicles.

In fact, the idea of developing a tracker first occurred to Sihag five years ago when he devised a GPS chip that could track vehicles. The project was financed by the Himachal Pradesh-based Devbhumi Group of Institutes. “It struck me then that if a GPS chip can keep track of vehicles, it can also track human beings. So, I worked on a design that would work under different conditions,” Sihag said.

Sihag plans to make it available for Rs 5,000 apiece with Rs 100 per month as rental charge for the SMS service. Those who don’t want to buy it can rent the device for Rs 800 per month for both the device and service  

He has not patented the mini-tracker, so it’s not yet in the market. He plans to make it available for Rs 5,000 apiece with Rs 100 per month as rental charge for the SMS service. Those who don’t want to buy it can rent the device for Rs 800 per month for both the device and service.

However, there are similar devices already in the market. MapmyIndia has one such tracker — positioned as a personal safety device with an SOS button and SMS alerts — which cost Rs 8,990; its bike tracker comes for Rs 3,250.

A month ago, FactorDaily published a story on another innovation by Sihag — a drone sprayer — aimed at saving farmers in Haryana from pesticide poisoning. His innovations are funded by Rahul Raizada, an NRI based in Australia. Raizada has invested an undisclosed amount in the company.


Lead visual: Angela Anthony Pereira Inside image: Amit Kumar The ‘Tech Meets Bharat’ series brings to you stories on how technology is impacting and changing lives in hinterland India. Sat Singh is a Rohtak-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters. With inputs from Amit Kumar, a Haryana-based journalist.