Invoxia LongFi GPS Tracker Review: Uses Helium Hotspots to Locate Your Valuables

Have GPS trackers They’ve been part of the mainstream for decades now, to the point where you’ll find dozens of products available from mass market retailers for under $100. GPS tracking is still not as easy and smooth as you see in spy movies. The units require an extra bulky battery if you want them to last more than two weeks and require an expensive monthly service plan to function at all. If you’re just looking for a little peace of mind to make sure your car can be found if it’s stolen — or if your teen didn’t get home with her before the curfew — GPS tracking can become an expensive endeavor.

Enter the Invoxia LongFi Tracker, a simple device that offers many of the same features as GPS tracking but with much longer battery life (up to four months for a fee) and no monthly service fee.

The secret of this new tracker is its connection to LongFi helium network, an interesting peer-to-peer wireless system that rewards people with Helium (HNT) Cryptocurrency When setting up and managing a compatible hotspot. LongFi is an evolution over LoRaWAN (Long Range WAN, which is said to offer 200 times the Wi-Fi bandwidth), which operates on the unlicensed 902-928 MHz band in the United States and is designed for low and long bandwidth. transmission range.

Typical uses for LoRa include door sensors, actuators (such as a garage door opener), and device tracking – all things that don’t need to send anything more than an occasional ping to the network. LongFi is adding blockchain to the mix, so any time a compatible hotspot receives and processes one of these votes, it adds a time and location stamp to its blockchain. Over time, hotspot operators that process HNT blockchain transactions earn in proportion to the amount of work their hotspot does.

None of that has much to do with the Invoxia tracker. It only uses LongFi as the backbone for sending location data. You won’t earn any HNT for buying or using an Invoxia device, but when you pass through a compatible hotspot, its owner will. As it turns out, there are a lot of these things around: over 130,000 as I write this. You can see where they are all in a file hand map. (It’s also important to note that the device will regularly run your smartphone’s location services to update its location if it’s nearby. More on this later.)

hide and seek

You can put your Invoxia in anything you want to keep track of – your car, bag, or guitar case.

Photo: Invoxia

The device itself is nothing special – a small plastic rectangle with no buttons or keys, only a micro-USB port used for charging. It could easily be confused with a USB power bank or (for all my daughters) a vape pen, although the inclusion of a small strap adds some fashion to the thing.

All functions of the Invoxia tracker are handled through its mobile application. To use it, simply connect the device to start charging, then connect to it using Bluetooth within the app. The system asks you a few questions, like what you’re trying to track (the car or backpack, for example), and how often you check its location. This can range from Standard (every 10 to 14 minutes) to High (every 2 to 4 minutes), which will affect accuracy as well as battery life. The built-in tilt sensor can also detect and alert you, for example, if the motorcycle you’re following has flipped.

I’ve been testing the device in my car for several weeks, driving around the bay area with the Invoxia in tow. I was skeptical that it would be helpful – there is no helium hot spot within my home range and only a few in the city where I live – but was immediately surprised to see the in-app map of my trips increasing with each trip I took.

Location tracking with Helium LongFi.

Christopher Noll via LongFi Tracker

After a week of testing, I realized that a lot of my good fortune was because Invoxia was navigating on location services with my phone instead of using Helium network directly. I turned off bluetooth on my phone, and soon my movements stopped for several days. The system didn’t start recording the site’s sounds until after it ventured into more urban areas, including the heart of San Francisco. They were fairly few and far between, and much less than the helium map would suggest. The bottom line is that the Invoxia will perform well in more densely populated areas where there are more helium hotspots (or if your phone is nearby), but don’t expect to build an exact minute-by-minute log of that Route 66 trip. .

While individual data points may be missing in fragments, the overall picture that the system paints over time is effective. Viewing the map is fun, and it’s easy to zoom in for a day or look back to see the last six months of movement all at once. If you need more detailed accuracy, Invoxia also makes a tracker that uses the cellular network as its backbone, but that comes at the cost of battery life.

The battery life of this non-cellular version seems solid. In my testing, the device reached the remaining 88 percent after a week of use at its highest refresh frequency setting. It’s also worth noting that if you have a spare USB port in your car, you can leave the Invoxia tracker plugged in and not worry about the battery at all.

The tracker costs $129 and comes with three years of service (after that, the company says you’ll be able to renew the service plan for a reasonable fee). This is significantly less than classic GPS trackers once you consider their subscription costs. And while the accuracy isn’t perfect, it’s good enough to keep track of your valuables in one swipe. If helium takes off and becomes a global phenomenon, the appearance of the device only improves.

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