Modern communication technologies enable the transmission of information between different kinds of technical devices. By connecting these gadgets to mobile or fixed networks via the air it is possible to enable them to communicate. Basically, there are two major underlying technologies: location based services and GPS plus GSM.
Location based services (LBS) locate a device within a mobile network (GSM) which uses information on the geographical position. The main advantage of LBS is that data traffic arises only on the side of the network operator, therefore no recurring fees are charged to the end user. Additionally, with this technology the localization within buildings is possible.
GPS plus GSM uses the satellite networks for localization. In order to communicate, information is exchanged via a mobile network (GSM). In this case data traffic occurs on the side of the end user and recurring fees (e.g. data contract) are charged to the end user. Furthermore, localization within buildings is not feasible.
In order to employ this way of communication, technical equipment has to be equipped with a module consisting of a SIM-Card, energy supply (i.e. battery) and the communication module. The highest current offering of this technology includes following specifications:
Different SIM card formats can be deployed:
SIM cards: Conventional SIM cards used i.e. in mobile phones
MFF SIM: Miniaturized SIM cards with enhanced capabilities regarding areas of application, operating temperature/vibrations/humidity/etc. and regular life span
Duration dependent on usage scenario (information exchange or passive location only) and ranges from 7 hours (data exchange every 15 seconds) to 1 month (data exchange every 5 hours)
Through a "sleep mode" (module recovers with movement) the duration can be stretched up to 6 months
Duration can be extended through the employment of solar cells
Charging of the battery via USB connection is possible
Battery can be isolated from moisture and spray
Minimal weight (without casing): 30 gramme
Specs (without casing): 55 x 36 x 13 mm
Temperature resistance: -20 up to +60 degrees Celsius
These specifications refer to the state-of-the-art of such modules. Due to the inherent trend of miniaturization, specs and weight can be expected to decrease within the near future.