This nifty little device (it is surprisingly tiny) will allow us to keep you up to date even when no internet or telephone connection is available:
The SPOT connect periodically sends our current position via a satellite, and draws the track on a map that you can view online. This means you can track our progress towards Mongolia in real time, no matter how far we are away from civilization. Additionally, it allows us to send short text messages which will automatically be posted to twitter and facebook, so we'll even be able to let you know what we are doing. It's main drawback is that it requires (non-rechargable) lithium batteries, so we'll have to bring two dozen batteries to make it last 2 months.
We also have a SPOT messenger:
This is basically the same thing, but lacks the bluetooth functionality (and thus can only send one of 3 predefined status messages, "OK", "Help", and "SOS"). Instead it has much longer battery life and is more robust. The OK button logs the position with status "OK". The Help button is meant to notify people of non-life threatening issues (In my opinion this is a rather useless button. I doubt we'll ever use it). The SOS button on the other hand can be extremely useful. It is connected to the International Emergency Response Coordination Center (IERCC) which will forward the distress call to the appropriate agencies (depending on the location). We plan to save it for real emergencies when we're in serious trouble and we ran out of batteries for the SPOT connect, or when the SPOT connect fails.
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