Are GPS trackers real in the films? Can I track a car of my wife that easy? Can I implant a microchip GPS to track my child? Not everything you see in the films is true. It may look cool and impressive, but back in reality GPS trackers are tied to restrictions and the law of nature. We put things you see in the movies to the test in this article and explain why some things do not exist.
Microchip GPS implant
Is it real? The answer is: no.
Although implants such as depicted in the picture on the left side do exist, they can not track your location via GPS. These chips are so called RFID chips, which means they contain a tiny antenna and can emit a radio frequency to another device. This chip does not have an internal battery and can only communicate with a special RFID reader usually within 15cm of distance. The chip in this tiny implant can be compared to a chip which can be found in contactless ATM cards and in your phone (Apple Pay). Although these are magnificent little devices, they cannot be used for tracking your location.
Years of battery life
Is it real: yes, or well, it depends.
How long a GPS tracker's battery lasts depends on multiple factors. The first being: how big is the battery? The second: how often does the tracker transmit its location? These things all come into play when calculating the battery life. Some GPS trackers might advertise that they can last for over a year, but usually that means they are bulky in size and only send a location when you call a number or send a SMS text message. Often this is not what a typical consumer expects when they think about a GPS tracker. If you want realtime tracking (read: a location update every few seconds) even the largest GPS trackers will not last more than a day or two.
The physical size of the battery acts as a multiplier: a battery that is two times as large will on average give a two times longer battery life. This also means that when the GPS tracker and its battery get smaller, the battery life also gets shorter. Smaller is not always better for a GPS tracker, depending on what it is used for.
Centimeter realtime accuracy
Is it real: no.
When GPS trackers are shown in movies it usually is in the form of a smoothly moving dot showing pin-point accuracy. However, this is not how it works in the real world. For starters, civilian GPS equipment usually is rated for an accuracy of within 15 meters. The actual accuracy depends on the used receiver chip inside the GPS tracker (usually the more expensive the better). However your surroundings also have a big impact. If you are in an area with a lot of high-rise buildings, trees or other objects (urban canyons) the GPS signal might get reflected or blocked resulting in a lower accuracy.
Most modern GPS trackers use a combination of GPS, Wi-Fi and cell tower data. Want to know what such a tracker looks like? Take a look at our latest offering.