Hang on to your wallets, kids. Pieps is hoping to make their mark (literally) with their new Globalfinder, a revolutionary three-in-one device that uses two satellite systems to allow users to navigate and communicate. Weighing a mere 178 grams (20 grams lighter than their DSP avalanche transceiver, and about 80 grams lighter than the average handheld GPS), the Globalfinder is the key to all your rescue and navigation problems. Well, almost.
Like many handheld rescue devices, the Globalfinder has an emergency button that you can use to get yourself out of a tight spot, sans arm-removal. The button is located on the left side of the device and is protected from accidental pressing by the yellow antenna, which folds up and down like a satellite phone. When the antenna is folded down, it covers the emergency button. Once pressed, the button will send a signal to GEOS, a global emergency response company. Your coordinates will also be sent, and with this information, GEOS will contact a local rescue agency to find you.
Unlike other handheld rescue devices, the Globalfinder allows you to send and receive data, just like a cell phone. It uses the Iridium network, which has over 66 satellites in orbit around Earth. This means your messages (maximum 256 characters – hey, longer than Twitter!) are sent and received instantly, even when you are in the middle of nowhere. You can text, email, and even update your Facebook status (Waiting out storm. Dehydrated food does not agree with my tentmate.).
And say your friends or loved ones want to know exactly where you are on your trip, all the time. No problem. The Globalfinder provides accurate tracking points, and you get to choose the intervals. For the extra-worried armchair person in your life, you can set your tracking to one second intervals. (Don’t worry, you can also choose one hour.) Intervals can be altered in the field, a handy option given the regular traveller doesn’t move as quickly uphill as she or he might downhill. There are no maximum number of points your device can send. Your trackpoints will show on a map, and if you’re travelling by air, your path will show detached from the ground.
For all the bells and whistles on the Globalfinder, one thing it is not is a full GPS. You can’t point the device at a spot five hundred metres away and drop a waypoint, like you can with most handheld GPSs. And there aren’t top maps, either, so you’ll still have to bring your paper map. What the device can do is give you the coordinates of your current position, and from there you can transfer that information to a map. As long as you have a map, you will always know where you are.
Of course, all this technology comes at a price. The Globalfinder is set to retail in North America at $799, a hefty price compared to its competition.
Pieps representatives are realistic about its limitations. “We believe it’s a professional device, but there are bigger professional solutions,” acknowledges Michael Cater, the general manager of Pieps Canada. “This is a handheld solution. We’re not going to phone up Air Canada and tell them to put this on their windshield.”
Backcountry users take note: You still need to bring your avalanche transceiver.
Pieps Global Finder from