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SPOT ConnectAt CES 2011, Brian Cooley takes a First Look at SPOT Connect, a device for emergency situations when you have no cell phone reception.
-You know, there are so many ways to have your smartphone coverage crap out. You can hold your iPhone 4 wrong, forget to charge your battery, you forgot the AT&T, or you can be out in the boonies where you're off the grid, out of coverage; not even close to a cell tower. You would normally think "Oh well, no cellphone. Gotta go build a fire and send smoke signals", but not anymore. Check this out. A company called Spot has a device called SPOT Connect. It's this module here that works with Android and soon iPhone devices as well. What happens is this has a satellite connection and a bluetooth connection. It talks to the phone via bluetooth and then talks to the satellite via some other radio frequency way beyond my pay grade. What it allows you to do that was interesting that's on the app right here. Check this out. First of all, you can send messages. You have up to 14 predefined, fairly short messages or you can send a custom message of 41 characters. By the way, those messages can also be basically cc'ed to Facebook or Twitter if you wanna do that as well. Then you've got this SOS panel right here, and here's where I can put out a help saying "I'm in trouble. I'm out in the canyon or out in the forest or something and I'm injured" or whatever it may be serious stuff, and you can put out that sort of thing. It's almost like a-- a beacon that aviators use to try and get help, but this actually goes out to a monitoring center over the satellite connection. You've also got something called SPOT Assist here which is really motor vehicle roadside assistance-oriented and you've got those button called Help which is less urgent, more like you wanna check in with friends and family you've predefined and just let them know where you are and everything is okay. Things like that. Okay, pricing. The module costs $150. Oh, by the way, it's got its own SOS button here, so even if you're out there on your mountain bike in the boonies and you fall and you land on your phone, you've ever had one of those days and it's dead, you can still get help this way. Now, on top of that is a $100-a-year fee for this basic basket of services I've shown you, but that doesn't include those 41-character custom messages. You can get those for about 10 cents each if you buy a plan of 500 of them, so $50 in a basket. It gives you a rough idea where the pricing is. But for those who are way out there with their phone a lot and thought "I'm cellphoneless while I'm out in the boonies", not anymore.