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SPOT to be found in New Zealand

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SPOT to be found in New Zealand

A LIFE-saving handheld device that is taking the world by storm has been launched in New Zealand and is set to be available in stores in time for Christmas.

Globalstar Inc.'s Spot Messenger has been released in New Zealand after leading Queensland-based telecommunications company Pivotel Group sealed a distribution deal to sell the personal tracking device.

The state-of-the-art device has previously been available in the United States, Canada and Europe. It uses the Globalstar constellation of 48 low earth orbit satellites to monitor the location of the device.

Tales of successful rescues thanks to SPOT devices have made international headlines, including the rescue of Canadian kayaker Derek Crook who was stranded off the west coast of Tasmania earlier this year.

Mr Crook, who bought his SPOT in Canada, pressed the emergency alert button after capsizing his kayak. The alert was then received by the emergency response centre, which notified the coast guard.

Pivotel Group managing director Peter Bolger said he expected the device to be a 'sensation' in New Zealand because of the nation's outdoors lifestyle.

"The SPOT Messenger is a crucial addition when doing anything outdoors that is in a remote area or out of cellular reach," Mr Bolger said.

"New Zealanders are fortunate to have so much open space to explore for recreational purposes," he said, "but in an emergency situation it can be a great disadvantage if you cannot contact anyone immediately."

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"The beauty of SPOT is that it can be used in an emergency with the signal reaching a global emergency centre within five minutes where it is immediately relayed to the appropriate authorities, or you can send a signal to your family just to let them know where you are."

Mr Bolger said he predicted the device would also be adopted by commercial operators for the security and monitoring of employees.

"Overseas, SPOT has been making inroads into the commercial market especially for businesses which have staff operating in isolated and remote areas, such as farms etc," he said.

"It is also a perfect device for adventure tourism operators to ensure everyone is safe."

Mr Bolger said the device was a necessity for anyone with an adventurous streak.

"At the end of the day, a $AUD299 piece of equipment may save your life," he said.

SPOT has four distinct functions that can be executed through a simple push of a button, a locator, an emergency function, a help function and a tracking function that can be followed through Google maps.

The device sends a signal to the satellite constellation, which is then translated into a user-friendly format that notifies or more pre-defined contacts of the user's location via email or SMS.

The email features a link to the exact position of the particular SPOT on Google Maps.

The locator or "Check-In" function is designed to keep those close to you informed on your status and location. Using the Check-In function gives the user the ability to send a pre-written message to any pre-programmed contacts.

The Help function allows the user to notify a family-member or friend that they require assistance.

The device has an annual subscription cost of $USD115 a year.

ends

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