Intellectual property patent status

Items being lost or stolen in transit have traditionally been difficult to track down and recover, causing professional businesses such as retailers, airports, and logistics, packaging, and delivery companies to permanently lose goods and products, profits, and in some cases, brand trust. A new tracking device can help to overcome this issue, enabling accurate worldwide tracking for an indefinite length of time.

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There are a wide range of professional businesses that require the ability to track the end-to-end movements of a product – for example, a high-end retailer tracking large numbers of luxury goods from the warehouse to their store branches, either within the same country or abroad.

There are currently many electronic tracking devices in use to monitor an item’s location and movements, using Bluetooth, RFID, or Wi-Fi. Although these options work very well in a confined area or in close proximity to the user (e.g. while in the warehouse or when the goods arrive at the desired destination), if the object of interest leaves the confined area (e.g. in transit), it can prove difficult to find when lost or stolen due to present limitations on tracking devices’ working range, size, or battery life. GPS is a current option which can work well in transit, but limitations around battery life and indoor tracking can still not provide a well-rounded enough solution to fully overcome these issues.

This can incur huge stock and financial losses for companies, and can potentially cause damage to a brand’s reputation if customers’ packages are lost or stolen in transit.

The solution

A new tracking solution has been created to overcome these challenges – the Perpetual Tracking Device. This is an electronic tracking device that is small and self-charging, allowing the user to track their object of interest anywhere in the world for an indefinite length of time.

This new innovative device, developed by Dstl, uses an energy harvesting module to work (which converts nearby vibrations or radio spectrum energy into electrical energy that powers the tracker), and utilises the location services of other nearby devices (e.g. if a nearby person has location services on their phone). When the device has enough energy to work, it will transmit a periodical Wi-Fi beacon signal to the user to highlight its location anywhere in the world.

This significantly increases the chances of lost or stolen goods being recovered, reducing financial or reputational damages.

Key benefits

  • This device offers accurate and precise tracking across the globe, using the location technology of other nearby devices. The location accuracy is within a few metres.
  • As the device is self-charging, it will never run out of battery.
  • Small and discreet in size – even potentially as small or smaller than an SD card – meaning it can be concealed easily.
  • The technology prevents significant losses of important items, costs, and reputation.
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Potential applications

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Retailers, airports, manufacturers, and other companies

From luxury products, to building materials, to cargo and luggage, and much more – companies can benefit significantly from accurate end-to-end tracking on costly goods to ensure safe arrival, and the ability to recover lost or stolen goods in transit.

Logistics, packaging, and delivery services

To uphold brand reputation, it is vital for companies that move items of interest from location to location to deliver them safely, and to be able to track down and retrieve items that are lost or stolen.

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Theft prevention and authentication of luxury goods

There is potential for this technology to be used within luxury items as an additional authentication step that can be activated by the customer when safely received, and built into the product in a way that cannot be removed without damaging the product. This can prevent businesses losing profits and brand reputation to counterfeit goods.

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