This story has been updated. It was originally featured in the May 2006 issue of Popular Science magazine and involves outdated technologies and services.
Cue the Mission Impossible theme. I’m working a top-secret operation, and my support team is monitoring my every movement. OK, so I’m just going to the hardware store, but my girlfriend, Jen, is tracking me. Using a $100 kit from Mologogo (with a $6-a-month data plan), I’ve turned a prepaid cellphone into a GPS tracking device. Every few minutes, the phone transmits my location within 100 meters to mologogo.com, which posts it to a Google map that Jen can access from any computer. She can view my most recent spot or my past 100 recorded locations as little pushpins stamped with date and time.
- Project: track anyone with a cell
- Cost: $100
- Time: 4 Hours
- Difficulty: easy | | | | | hard (Editor’s note: 2/5)
The key to this project is the government’s Enhanced 911 program, which will soon require all cellphones to transmit a GPS signal so that police can locate callers in need. So far, only Nextel, Boost Mobile and BlackBerry allow third-party companies to build software that uses that signal, but other carriers will follow suit this year.
Since Mologogo launched in October, its 1,000-plus members have found plenty of uses for it: following marathon runners, keeping track of the kids, planting a phone in the car in case it’s stolen, watching a boyfriend’s every move… Uh-oh.
- Go to mologogo.com and order a starter kit, which includes a phone preloaded with the tracking application, as well as two chargers, a USB cable, and $10 in prepaid credit-nearly enough for the first two months of data service. Activate the phone following the included instructions. Make sure you choose the Mobile Data plan.
- Create two accounts at mologogo.com, one for the phone and one for the person tracking it. In each account, add the other as a friend.
- Set up the Mologogo software on your phone at Main Menu > Java > Apps > More > Mologogo. Enter the account information you got from the Mologogo site.
- Give the phone to someone. Sign on to the site and see where they are.