TracMeTM Launches Next Generation Personal Locator Beacon

Thursday, 09 August 2007
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After five years of product development, market research and outreach to more than 4,000 search and rescue (SAR) agencies and professionals, the TracMe Personal Locator Beacon is now available for outdoor adventurers as their 11th essential. Only $150 MSRP and 1.6 ounces, this lightweight and easy-to-use personal locator beacon uses the same Channel 1 FRS/GMRS frequency as more than 100 million trail radios currently in use in the United States.
Booth 52046, Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Salt Lake City, Utah -- After five years of product development, market research and outreach to more than 4,000 search and rescue (SAR) agencies and professionals, the TracMe Personal Locator Beacon is now available for outdoor adventurers as their 11th essential. Only $150 MSRP and 1.6 ounces, this lightweight and easy-to-use personal locator beacon uses the same Channel 1 FRS/GMRS frequency as more than 100 million trail radios currently in use in the United States. The affordability and one-time use design (with free replacement after legitimate use) makes this personal locator beacon technology available to adults and children for scouting, camping or hiking. Rather than venture without a PLB, a TracMe helps locate a lost person in hours instead of days with only 3 to 6 search team members.

"Outdoor retailers and outfitters as well as many search and rescue professionals around the U.S. have been waiting for a more affordable beacon to give people an added advantage during their backcountry travel," said Joe Rainczuk, CEO and co-founder of TracMe PLB Pty Ltd, based in Melbourne, Australia (with U.S. operations in Seattle).

"Although personal use of satellite locator beacons became available to the general public through changes in U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) policy changes nearly four years ago, the price of satellite-based personal locator beacons made them prohibitive for most consumers and they are not suitable for children. As a result, sales and use of satellite PLBs by the general public for day hiking, scouting or group activity outings has been minimal. Further issues with inadvertent/accidental activation of satellite PLBs includes a waste of limited search and rescue resources and the potential of an expensive fine. An alternative was necessary which would give an adult or child an added advantage if they are reported lost," Rainczuk explained.

"We also emphasize that a TracMe cannot serve as a substitute for legally required satellite beacons on aircraft or off-shore/open ocean water craft, and should be a supplement to a satellite beacon on an extremely remote expedition," added Rainczuk.

"A beacon that doesn't change much of what you already do before going outside"
A TracMe personal locator beacon meets the needs of the middle ground with its affordability and ease of use-and by assisting search and rescue professionals with a radio signal that has a ground and aerial search range from 2 to 30 miles-dependent upon the sophistication of direction finding equipment being used and nature of the search area.

"We designed a TracMe to increase the link to backcountry safety and dovetail with the existing preparation of an outdoor enthusiast. You still need to prepare: know where you are going, read a map, pack your essentials, and let your roommate or family know when you are expected to return. For children, they know to wear it and pull it apart - but only in a real emergency," explained Tilo Schmidt, Chief Technical Officer and co-founder of TracMe. "A TracMe is designed for one-time use to avoid accidental activation or abuse. But we replace it free when it is used in a legitimate search and rescue situation."

A TracMe PLB has a 10-year shelf life with a high quality lithium battery that transmits a "Help...Emergency" voice message every 15 seconds for approximately seven days.

Prepare, pack, inform.....
TracMe is packaged with a Leave-Behind-Card as a reminder to leave a note about the user's whereabouts and expected return time. There is also a Dashboard Card to lay or hang from your car's rear-view mirror at the trailhead to inform SAR personnel that you have a TracMe, and a reminder card to pack essentials and self-test the beacon before heading out.

Thousands of SAR professionals and groups updated before launch; free loan of training equipment; free training materials
Several years of market research coupled with search and rescue stakeholder outreach told us that it was critical to inform the search and rescue community about the TracMe, and provide as many opportunities for training and education as possible," said Schmidt. Our team has spent months contacting the SAR community, giving workshops, and initiating a free SAR Field Kit program to help train their teams. The SAR resources page on TracMe's website has had a lot of traffic in the past two months leading up to the OR Summer Market launch," he said.

The real difference is a simple advantage
"The real difference is that when you are reported lost, TracMe's signal gives a search and rescue team a greater starting advantage by reducing the size of the search area, and more than likely finding you in hours instead of days. That is a real difference especially if you are out in the elements. And a real difference for all those SAR volunteers who are spending time and resources looking for you," said Rainczuk.

About TracMe Personal Locator Beacons Pty Ltd
TracMe Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) is an international organization based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and Seattle, Washington, USA dedicated to applying technological advances to finding lost adventurers faster. TracMe's first product uses a simple and well-known technology which uses the same Channel 1 signal as nearly 100 million trail radios currently used in the United States. It is affordable, light and easy to use. TracMe's Channel 1 FRS/GMRS radio signal works with land and airplane search techniques. TracMe evolved from an idea in 1992 to create a small, simple, affordable and effective radio locator beacon that could be used by anyone while engaged in outdoor activities, including situations where the conventional satellite-based PLBs are not appropriate for general use.

To activate a TracMe, you simply pull the top and bottom of the beacon apart. When activated, the TracMe PLB sends the voice message "Help...Emergency" continuously every 15 seconds for up to 7 days. TracMe PLBs are designed for one-time use but not abuse. They are the most affordable, longest lasting and lightest weight beacon available in a non-satellite beacon category: only 1.6 ounces, 3.2-inches long at $150 MSRP, they are smaller than an energy bar. When activated for legitimate search and rescue, an expended TracMe PLB will be replaced free of charge. Designed with an enclosed built-in lithium battery to last 10 years in backcountry and waterway adventure conditions, TracMe PLBs are the 11th essential for responsible outdoor adventurers anywhere. Visit www.TracMe.com for a comparison chart of a number of beacons, their use and their technology.

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David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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