FAQs About GPS Tracking #
Welcome to PocketFinder’s FAQ page! PocketFinder not only holds numerous patents in GPS tracking, but feels an obligation to put the power in the hands of our customers. Our Support Page is filled with articles that answer questions about our devices and service. Below are some common questions Support has received over the years that deserve direct attention.
If you would like more details, you can send an email to Support HERE or leave a voicemail at 866-726-7543. Support will then reach out and provide any additional information needed.
How does GPS actually work?
GPS tracking is best thought of as 3 systems in 1. You have your device, the GPS satellites/ cell signals, and the servers for processing/ publishing.
When charged up and moving in an area with signals, the device will first try to connect with the GPS satellites to gain a location. The GPS satellites rain down signals on the device and it will grab this signal.
Once it obtains this GPS location, it will connect with cellular signals in the area and securely send the device’s location info, battery level, and other details to our servers.
From there, the servers read this GPS signal; if good, it will read the other raw data, translate it, and publish it for you to view on your online account and mobile app. If the GPS signal is bad, the device will continue grabbing signals and repeating this process until one is good.
Your device model and settings will determine how frequently your device updates its location while moving.
What is Sleep Mode?
Sleep Mode is an automatic function that all PocketFinder devices experience. The only exception is LTE Smart Tracker when it is in “20 Minute Mode”.
If the device has not registered proper movement for 20 minutes, the device will go dormant and cease all communication. This allows for optimum battery savings. Once the device registers proper movement again, it will wake up and start its tracking cycle. Personal devices can sit for weeks (in some cases) in Sleep Mode before fully draining the battery.
How does the WiFi function work?
The 3G PF+ Personal and the LTE Smart Tracker both have “WiFi Touch” as an automatic feature.
To be considered GPS trackers, our devices always have to try GPS first. But, if indoors, building materials can block GPS signals and prevent tracking.
WiFi Touch allows for devices to locate indoors. If the device cannot get GPS, it will then search for WiFi signals. The device cannot communicate nor connect to WiFi. But, nearly every WiFi signal has a “tag” with its GPS location and assigned address. If within range, the device will read this tag and use that location as its own.
There is WiFi indoors, but the device tends to show in one area, even when in other parts of the building?
This is best explained with an example. The most common occurrence we see is when in big-box stores like Costco, Walmart, etc.
Your device is in 30 second mode (constant tracking) and walking up to the store you see a perfect breadcrumb trail. But, once indoors, you check your app and notice that the tracking is showing the locations all bundled at the center of the store, even though you are on the outskirts. Why?
WiFi Touch is not locating your device; the device is using the WiFi location as its own. Most stores/ warehouses have the WiFi source physically located in the center of the store so that is the assigned location on the “tag”. Thus, that is where your device will show as it cannot obtain the more accurate GPS signals.
Why do my Zone alerts seem delayed?
The most important thing to remember when it comes to zones is that the device only knows where it is when it locates.
So, let’s say your device is in 10 minute mode. It updated its location at home at 10:00. This means it will not update its location again until 10:10. The person wearing the device goes on a walk and exits the zone at 10:06. Because it is not actively locating, the device does not know it exited the zone and so it does not send the alert.
Once it locates at 10:10 and sees it is outside of the zone, it will send the alert.
So, if your device is in Constant (30 second), it will only take up to 30 seconds to be notified of exiting the zone.
Why can’t I make my Zone smaller?
PocketFinder has been providing GPS services since 2009. Over the years, we have experimented with Zones and found that not only round zones, but limiting the size allows for the most success.
We understand the need to be alerted as soon as your loved ones exits a zone. But, if the zone is too small, this is detrimental and false alerts will cause more frustration than anything else.
For example, let’s say you were able to make your zone perfectly trace the outside of the home. The person wearing the device is moving around by the front window to enjoy the view. The device is tracking every 4 minutes and now it is time to update its location again.
It connects with GPS and gets an accurate location. As you read in our other articles, accuracy for GPS is considered within several meters of where the device physically is. So, if they get a location that is even just a foot off and shows outside the window, that will trigger an unnecessary alert.
Having the zone extend out gives a buffer and ensures that when you receive that alert, it is for real.
Why is my map blank and not showing my device?
This is generally due to one of two reasons:
If you just activated the device, it has not gotten its first location. Once it starts tracking, you will see it on the map.
This can also happen if you (as account admin) set yourself up as a “Limited User” under the User tab on your account. This can be easily fixed by contacting Support.
How come there isn’t a button I can press online/ on the app to force the device to immediately locate?
This is one of the most common questions asked, for a variety of reasons.
When we talk about a function like this, there are modules available that can be built into GPS trackers. In fact, our Wired Vehicle Trackers have this module, allowing Support to send very specific signals to these devices and get diagnostic data back, as well as try and force an updated location if it is struggling. So, why is it not available in the personal trackers?
The simple answer is battery life. The vehicle tracker is plugged into constant power from the car battery so it has plenty of juice. So, even in sleep, having this module “on” does not affect the battery.
Personal trackers work best off the charger as this allows for the battery to have a long life. As you read above and in other articles, the personal trackers go to sleep when not moving to save maximum battery; all components go dormant. But, in order for this module to work as it should, it cannot go to sleep. Thus, it would pull power even when in Sleep Mode and cause you to have a much, much shorter day-to-day battery life.
Likewise, remember, if the device is in Sleep Mode and not moving, then there is no reason to update the location because it is still where the map shows it. If the device was moving, it would be updating its location.
The PF+ model does have “Track Mode”. Say the device is in 10 minute tracking. It just finished tracking and alerted you it is out of the zone. Now it will be 10 minutes before the device locates on its own. Pressing “Track Mode” sends a signal to the system telling the device to locate for 5 minutes when it next checks in. During the 10 minute gap, the device is not tracking, but every 2 minutes it still checks into the server. So, within 2 minutes it will start locating if Track Mode is pressed.
The Smart Tracker does not do the 2 minute check in between locations like the PF+. This means there is no Track Mode. But, due to this, the average customer sees 2-3 days of battery life on a single charge. Even customers in “Constant” see a full day’s use. So, while you may not have those more immediate options, overall, you can use faster modes and see better battery than past models.