Two-Way Satellite GPS Communicator

Treading in uncharted technological territory between a satellite phone, a GPS unit, and a SPOT device, an upcoming product from DeLorme promises two-way communication via satellite-based signals. DeLorme is building a new device, called the inReach, which is a small standalone unit made for use with the DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w GPS device or, most impressive, smartphones that run the Android operating system. You can type in a message in the wilderness via one of these devices, and then it will wirelessly pair with the inReach to send a satellite communiqué.

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DeLorme inReach device

Key to the system, DeLorme has partnered with Iridium Communications Inc., which manages a constellation of 50+ Earth-orbit communication satellites. This will provide “pole-to-pole” coverage and network capacity for the inReach device, DeLorme cites.

What will the inReach do, exactly? Most substantially, the inReach will send and receive text messages outside of cell phone range. (The “receive” half of the equation is the big deal here, as most devices in this genre are one-way communication disseminators only.) You can send an email or a text message, and also upload to sites like Facebook and Twitter.

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Smartphone paired with DeLorme inReach

There’s a GPS tracking function and an SOS signal built in for emergencies. Another neat thing: If catastrophe strikes and you send an SOS, this system will let you receive message delivery confirmation. Emergency response services will be able to notify you that help is on the way, DeLorme cites.

As a bonus, the Android app is compatible with DeLorme’s map library, letting you download topographic, aerial, nautical, and other maps for display on a smartphone.

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Smartphone screen, DeLorme inReach interface

The inReach is slated for October delivery, and its expected retail price is about $250. There will be a requisite subscription fee starting at about $10 a month. More info is on DeLorme’s blog this week.

—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com. A version of this post ran originally on Gear Junkie’s blog on VentureThere.com, a USA Today property.

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