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Aug 18, 2015 4:08 PM ET

Archived: LightBug: Cut the chase. Never lose anything or anyone again: Find anything & anyone. Anywhere. LightBug never needs charging & is always in range. Solar Powered / GPS / Mobile Data / Bluetooth

iCrowdNewswire - Aug 18, 2015

More than just a Bluetooth tag (like Tile),  LightBug is actually useful when you’re not near it. It has a GPS, which is accurate down to 50cm, anywhere in the world. It sends it’s location over any available mobile phone network, anywhere in the world  using a roaming SIM.  

It takes the best features of a Bluetooth Tag (proximity detection and buzzer alerts) and combines them with the functionality of a full GPS/GPRS tracker (absolute positioning and “infinite” range). 

See “Why LightBug?” below for more reasons why LightBug is different (in an awesome way). 

Oh and we almost forgot, it’s solar powered.

Clip LightBug to your child’s jacket, bag or shoes, turn on your phone’s Bluetooth and you’re good to go. LightBug will automatically wake up the GPS if your child goes too far away from you. You will then be able to locate them, anywhere in the world. [Patent Pending]

It’s great for children with autism or ADHD. If your child is prone to wandering off in crowded places, LightBug can give you peace of mind.

LightBug is also great if you’re looking after someone with Alzheimer’s. We know the constant worry is there and want to help give you peace of mind. Receive automatic alerts when they leave an area. LightBug is small, discreet and never needs charging. Can easily be clipped to items of clothing or shoes. It also has fall detection, so you can get alerted if it detects a sudden shock.

You can set up loads of automatic alerts so you don’t lose a single precious second. Get an alert on your phone, or even get Lightbug to ring if it goes too far away or out of a certain safe zone.

Ever had to put up a missing cat poster? Maybe your pet goat loves to run off into the woods on your morning walks. You probably wish there was a simple way of getting peace of mind.Well… LightBug gives you just that.

No contracts. No charging. Clip LightBug to their collar, set up a safe zone and get automatic alerts on your phone if they leave the area.

If your best friend is normally by your side, LightBug+ can also alert you as soon the Bluetooth connection to your phone is broken

Clip LightBug to your shoe and go for a run. Sorted. Super accurate GPS tracking without strapping that 6″ phone to yourself.

Automatic data upload. Zero hassle. See your session data from your phone or computer as soon as you’re done. No messing around with cables. We’ve integrated LightBug into Strava and plan on adding more supported platforms so you can use the app you already know and love.

You can use it to track your bike rides, but also use it to find your bike if it ever gets stolen.

The best part? When you get bored of the whole “keeping fit” thing and take up competitive knitting instead, you can use LightBug for something else (see Stuff below). Other Fitness trackers tend to be used for a few months and then left in a draw somewhere. We think you’ll always find a use for your LightBug.

Just a note:  We can’t claim LightBug will have infinite battery life when used as a fitness tracker. Unless you live in the tropics, solar power won’t be enough to keep it charged. That means it’s going to need charging every so often using a MicroUSB cable. Don’t worry, we’re still talking up to a month battery life with daily use.

LightBug is super useful to help you find lost & stolen stuff. It works anywhere in any country and you don’t need to be nearby to find it.

Clip it to your bag, keyring or drone and avoid those panic moments. You can slip it in your luggage when you fly, and know if the airline has sent your luggage to Siberia again. You can even put it in your car, for those of you who forget where you’ve parked on a regular basis.

Because LightBug is solar powered, you never need to take it off your stuff to charge it.  

It’s also great for other items, like caravans, shipping containers, drones, expensive artwork, etc. Basically anything you’d hate to lose. 

As you can see, LightBug is the best of both Bluetooth Tags & GPS trackers (and in some cases better than either one).

Bluetooth Tags (like Tile) are a Bluetooth chip connected to a battery. They only work if you’re nearby and only give you “hotter / colder” indications, not actually an accurate position. Basically useless if you’re not within 30 metres. “But they have crowd-sourcing for GPS” you say? Yeah… let us know when enough people have the app installed for it to actually be useful.

GPS trackers have a battery life of 1-2 days and are fairly “dumb”. They send their location at regular intervals until they run out of battery.

3D Printed Prototype
3D Printed Prototype

No contracts. No hidden fees.

So yeah… Get in there quick!

We also have special rewards for awesome people

They include a magnetic MicroUSB cable and a 2600mAh keyring powerbank, enough to charge your LightBug 10-12 times!

Founders club and Premium group levels include early access to all new features as well as priority shipping. You become part of our team, helping us shape the future of LightBug. 

LightBug+ comes with Bluetooth, so you can set up alerts and tell it to transmit its location only when it’s away from your phone. With Bluetooth, LightBug can know when it’s needed, and go to sleep when not.

See below for all the clever ways in which we save power

You might have heard of Bluetooth only tags like Tile & TrackR. LightBug+ is like a Bluetooth proximity tag on steroids because it’s still useful when you’re not near it. Unlike other tags, it doesn’t rely on loads of people having the same app installed (or “Crowd GPS”) because it can determine and send its location on its own. Like Bluetooth Tags though, you can use the app to make the buzzer ring to help you find stuff, and also use your phone to home in on it, helping you find stuff quicker indoors.

LightBug is solar powered so you never need to charge it. No need to remember to plug it in before bed. No need to get a new one every year.

The solar panels work even when not in direct sunlight. We’ve built in a miniature power harvester that takes every little drop of power from the two tiny solar panels, converts it to a usable voltage and then recharges the battery.

LightBug uses GPS & GLONASS satellites to locate itself, so you can find it anywhere. Even indoors. Accurate down to 50cm. That’s a circle slightly bigger than a trash can lid. You may need to invest in glasses if that’s not accurate enough to find your stuff.

The integrated module can use both GPS (American) and GLONASS (Russian) satellites to locate itself. This combined operation means it is much more accurate than GPS alone (with a typical “best” accuracy of 3m)

The antenna is super sensitive and works inside most buildings, but if you happen to live in a lead lined bunker, you can always use Bluetooth and the buzzer to find it quicker.

LightBug talks to the app over the mobile phone network using GPRS. It works in 90% of the inhabited world [GSMA]. We’ve partnered with a SIM card provider to ensure LightBug can connect to any available mobile phone network, in any country. This means it stays in touch wherever it is and at no extra cost.

LightBug will work in any of the yellow or purple countries below. The different colours simply indicate different operating frequencies.

Quadband GSM World Coverage
Quadband GSM World Coverage

LightBug also happens to be smaller than any other GPS + GPRS Tracker (1.9x smaller than Trax and 4.5x smaller than TK102 by volume). But, hey, size isn’t everything; it’s how we use our ridiculously small package that matters… right?

 If you’ve ever tried using solar panels to charge stuff, you know that they rarely work as well the manufacturers claim they do.

You need to be outside, have direct sunlight, be at the right angle, and maybe have a little sprinkle of fairy dust to hand. The point is: we know the tiny solar panels can’t always provide enough power for LightBug to be on all the time.

This is where engineering & problem solving comes in. Because there are quite a few different ways in which we save power, Chris has made a (not so quick) video to explain all of them. Summary below.

TL;DW (too long; didn’t watch): If Chris’s face and/or voice offends you, here’s a summary of what he says in the video:

  • If LightBug is waiting for you to request a location, it means it must be on. Being on takes power, so we want LightBug to be on only when necessary.
  • LightBug is designed to be adapted to your life.
  • At the most basic level, you can tell LightBug when you might need it. By giving operational times, you’re also telling LightBug when it’s ok to go to sleep.
  • You can also tell LightBug to go to sleep when it’s in a certain place. For example at home.
  • To save battery, LightBug only checks where it is if it’s been moved. It detects movement by using an accelerometer which detects vibrations and small movements. Makes sense right? If it hasn’t even moved a tiny bit, then the GPS coordinates won’t have changed.
  • That’s really useful if you’re putting it on stuff you don’t want stolen. You only need LightBug to be on if it’s moving when you’re not expecting it to.
  • You can combine all these settings, and have rules based on location, proximity and time.

Our vision is that next year we’ll be able to roll out an optional update to let LightBug learn where it should be and when, and automatically apply these settings for you. One problem at a time though.

We’re a small UK family business specialising in GPS trackers. More specifically, we’re a father & son team looking to step up our game. We’ve been working on trackers for 8 years now, and over the years we’ve evolved our technology, creating ever more efficient devices. We design, manufacture and assemble all of our products here in the UK. That means high quality products with much lower risk of delays.

Chris taught himself to code, age 14, and has been working on web based mapping platforms ever since. He recently graduated from the University of Bristol with a Masters of Engineering with First Class Honours and is refusing to get a proper 9-5 job. 

David is a Senior Electronics Engineer and has been working on electronics for like a hundred years. OK.. it’s more like 35 years, he’s not that old, but still… a long time. He’s been working with GSM & GPS based systems for 20 years. 

For a bit of history, you can see here our first website, Mapatrack.

Which was actually featured on the Gadget Show!

 (You can also see our trackers have changed a bit!)

Mapatrack was quickly replaced. First with Remote-Sentinel and then by Trackerhawk – our Fleet management platform, capable of displaying tens of thousands of data points on one map

The devices we currently make aren’t very big either, coming in at just 70x50x20mm in a water-resistant case with a 1250mAh battery. They’re actually still some of the smallest available today and our customers love the quality as well as their battery life.

 So why go smaller? Well why not? We like a challenge.

Why we need your help

One of the main reasons we haven’t made LightBug sooner is that we need to get custom plastics made. They just don’t make standard enclosures that small. Getting the tooling for plastics is a high initial cost and this is why we need your help to get LightBug off the ground.

The other main reason has been the cost in low-volume. By pledging, you are allowing us to buy the components in bulk, which helps bring the cost right down for everyone.

Cost issues aside, we love the Kickstarter community and everything it stands for (well that potato salad thing was a bit baffling…). We feel that by involving you at this stage, you’ll help us make an awesome product which will genuinely make your life better.

We promise to continue to support LightBug and continuously improve the apps, website and firmware, as long as you promise to keep requesting features.

As part of this plan to continuously improve our platform, we are looking to release a Public API in Q1 2016. 

You’ll be able to build apps around LightBug. You could create a game based on the location of your cat, or even create a live, moving scavenger hunt! Admittedly those ideas aren’t great, but we’re sure you’ll come up with amazing ways of using it!

We’ll let you download your data, and automatically transfer it to other services. You could download all of your fitness data to analyse it, or even create mini-leaderboards and competitions.

We’ve also planned to integrate with IFTTT. We think there are some very cool things that could be done if you combined IFTTT with our API as well as other services to create a monster mash up. You could get your WiFi lights to turn off when everyone, including the cat, has left home.

  • Weighs in at just 20g. You won’t notice it, whether its on you or your drone
  • Accelerometer for clever movement detection. Allows you to wake up LightBug.
  • Two tiny solar panels (22x7mm) for trickle charging in tag mode
  • Lanyard hole for easy attachment
  • MicroUSB for charging
  • 300mAh Lithium Polymer battery (charges in 20-30 minutes)
  • Piezo Buzzer to make noise and help you find it
  • LED to indicate current state
  • Integrated GSM/GPRS modem 

Basically LightBug integrates an old school mobile phone, solar panels, a solar charger, Bluetooth, a really, really good GPS and has amazing battery life. All that in a package the size of half a pack of gum.

LightBug will also come with a custom case, designed to make it water resistant and make it easily attachable to stuff. We are still working on this, please bear with us while we talk to different manufacturers to get the best price.

What happens if / when the battery runs out?

Well first of all, you will receive low battery warnings, giving you a chance to change your settings or simply remind you to put your LightBug on charge. Usually you will get a few days notice.  Charging takes less than 30 minutes using any standard MicroUSB charger.

If your LightBug was lost and depleted its battery giving you location updates, it will switch off. It will then wait until the solar panels have charged it up enough to send another location update. This means it’s never truly lost, provided it’s in a place where it can get some light.

For example, if you’re tracking a stolen bike which was being transported somewhere dark over several days and LightBug’s battery died after giving you 300 location updates, you’d still be able to find it once the thieves took it out of the truck and it saw some sunlight again.

Sorry but we’re not magicians. Flat batteries batteries might happen if you’re using the locate or fitness functions regularly. Please refer to the “Clever Power” section above.

What happens when my 1 year / 2 years of data expires?

At the moment we’re looking at charging a small £15 ($24) per year for unlimited data usage after the included data runs out. Depending on how well this campaign goes, we’ll be able to negotiate some better deals and bring that figure down. 

If it goes really well, we should also be able to give you the option to pay only when you actually want to locate your LightBug. So you only pay for what you actually use!

What if I don’t want to renew?

We’re pretty sure LightBug will have proved itself worth the equivalent of 1 beer every 4 months, but if you don’t want to renew, you can always just use LightBug as a Bluetooth Tag for your keys (assuming you got a LightBug+). We won’t stop you using the app or anything, we’ll just cancel the mobile phone contract for the SIM card in LightBug, so it won’t be able to send its GPS location. In case you change your mind after that thought, we’ll let you reactive it at any time.

When is LightBug not the best choice for me?

We’ve been told this bit is bad for business, but we think It’s worth mentioning the two cases where LightBug might not be the best choice:

  • If you exclusively lose your stuff inside the house, and it’s not worth much (e.g. keys), you probably don’t need all of LightBug’s features (and associated cost). A Bluetooth tag will be cheaper and slightly smaller. If you sometimes forget your bag and keys in a taxi though, LightBug is for you!
  • If you need to know exactly where something has been (i.e. continuous tracking & logging), LightBug hasn’t really been designed for that. You CAN set this up in the configuration, but battery life won’t be great (10h continuous updating every 2 minutes). You could attach a small 2600mAh power bank (like in the Premium reward) via MicroUSB and get about 10 days of tracking at 2 minute interval. We know that’s pretty good for something that would still be a really small package, it’s just not what LightBug was designed for.

What about privacy?

We think that because LightBug only transmits when you need it, privacy is much less of a problem than with other trackers that transmit at regular intervals. All of the data is encrypted and securely transferred from the device to your phone. Needless to say, we will never sell, share or publish location data unless you tell us to (e.g. by connecting a third party fitness app).

Final note: Please check what you want to do with LightBug is legal where you live. We do not accept any responsibility for illegal use of LightBug. You’ll need to look at what is legal and what isn’t for where you live if you’re not sure. Generally speaking though, tracking your own stuff is fine. You shouldn’t track other people without them knowing, Do not take this as legal advice… please… they’re just examples. (Pretty obvious really…)

See the FAQ for more, or get in touch if we’ve missed anything!

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