InSTEDD’s Eduardo Jezierski on SPOT

by Jon Thompson on August 8, 2008

Eduardo’s comment is already in the wild but I thought I’d post it for all to see.  Eduardo Jezierski is Director of Engineering over at InSTEDD, a Google.org funded initiative.   He’s got some great lessons learned for those of you that are on your way to pick up a SPOT unit.  He also praises the integration with Yahoo’s Fire Eagle that Evan told us about.  Eduardo writes:

Just before Where 2.0 I had a substantive rant blog post against SPOT, mostly for locking in the information (unless you are into parsing emails which is where hoped not to go), and a plea to go the fireeagle route…then Myanmar happened and blogging about other things screeched to a halt.

I am very glad that SPOT is doing this! We have POC code integrating FireEagle with geochat -so we benefit the more providers FE has.

Some warnings wrt the SPOT tracker however:
1) Make sure you take it to places within the coverage region. Zimbabwe, for example, isn’t. I found while I was there (my bad). So are chunks of South East Asia where I spend a lot of time. I’d like to see SPOT devices on other sat systems too!
2) Make sure you understand the ‘user interface’ which is minimal (not minimalistic) Do you know what blink-double-blink-blink means?
3) If you sign up for their evac insurance make sure it’s set up correctly. You only get one shot at it during tracker setup, if you fall outside that and want to do it after activation you are stuck with a much larger (but still reasonable) fee. I got the device very early and their support informed me I fell of the bandwagon and would have to deal with the insurance company directly.

All in all, I think the SPOT is a ‘very V1′ product with a lot of promise showing connectedness and location in the same device. Improved hardware design, and more openess in the management of the data seem to be on track!

If you want to read more about what Eduardo and his team are up to please be sure to check out his blog.  And, don’t forget that SPOT is giving out Fire Eagle invites for those of you that need them!

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