Have you ever lost your phone, got it stolen or simply forgot where you put it? Did that ever happen with a vehicle or some other object? Did you ever want to be able to localize and track something or even someone? If you had a positive answer to give to at least some of the questions above, geofencing might be for you.
To put it shortly, this is an advance technology using a geo-fence in order to see where you, your loved ones or a device of yours is at, a given time. The geo-fence itself is known to be a virtual parameter representing the geographical areas in real life. Combining this with an app that can be used on your smartphone or some sort of smart software, you can automatically get notified with the information you need.
Geofencing is sometimes used by companies specialized in child location and tracking. Other times, it is used in telematics or in order to detect areas with firearms when working on a case that involved crime or robbery.
Although this technology tends to be used by professionals a lot more, it started to play a more important part in the consumers’ life lately. This happened because of the advances taking place in the world of technology, where tracking your own mobile device, car, children or family became something of a DIY.
Since you can do it yourself, there are also quite a few apps and tools to look at. It’s sometimes hard to choose the one corresponding to your specific needs, especially when you’re unsure about the offering. By taking a look at our selection of geofencing software in this article, you might be able to get a better idea and make an informed decision.
How to Use It
Although some might already have a rough idea about what geofencing really is, many people out there don’t have a clue how it really works. In order to know how you can actually use it, we consider it very important to get the idea that lays behind the whole system.
Therefore, let me put it this way: the geo-fence itself is nothing but a virtual barrier. By using a simple feature like the GPS on your smartphone or tablet, the tool that you choose to use for geofencing is going to determine when a certain object or person reaches a point or goes beyond it.
That specific point is the barrier, and this is something that you set up yourself. By looking up an address and entering it in the system – for example, the school where your child goes – you can be notified when the child gets to school, as well as when he or she leaves.
Tips and Tricks
Apart from some of these most obvious ways to use geo-fencing, there are a few more that you might have not thought of. For example, the same technology can be used in marketing – if you own a restaurant or just opened a hostel, you might want to know when your customers visited you again. This way, you could send a notification to their phone or via email – for example, a brand new offer that they might want to look at. This is the idea behind beacons.
Not only your children can be tracked and protected using a geo-fence. When it comes to making sure that the ones you love are safe, you can go as far as protecting your pets with a tool like the ones in the following section. You can read more about this and learn about some other surprising ways to use geofencing here.
In a similar way, in case you own a shop or a warehouse, you can use geofencing for asset management. In this case, your tool would be using RFID instead of GPS – radio frequency identification. By simply placing an RFID tag onto an object in the shop, you would be notified if and when someone tries to remove it from that place without being authorized to do so.
Still talking about business purposes, in case you own a company of your own and have badges or identity cards for your customers, you might want to think of smart cards. These are identical to a normal badge, just that they can be set to send some alerts to the security guards whenever one of the employees tries to enter the building outside working hours, at the weekends, or when the same person has entered unauthorized areas.
Coming back to the consumer needs, many smart applications will let you use the geofencing technology to track yourself, too. If you know Facebook and FourSquare, you tend to check in when you get to a party and want everyone to know what you’re up to, this kind of tool might be useful for you. It could, for example, automatically post for you on Facebook and Twitter and check you in on FourSquare in case you forgot. It could also send you pre-made shopping lists corresponding to the store you’re in, so that you don’t forget a thing.
The variants you can find
Before we get into details about what more you could do with geofencing, let’s see what tools are available and what each one of them can do. Instead of talking about the general features that a geofencing software could come with, it’s always better to take a look at each one, individually.
The first one of our list is a tool that can be installed on iOS devices, but recently came up with an Android version, too. Although the name might make you think of iPhones, this app has a lot more to offer than meets the eye.
iHound can be used by social butterflies to share their location on Facebook, Foursquare or Twitter while it also lets them set how private or how open they want to be about the location they’re in. the same app can be used to monitor kids or other members of the family – it can be used on your grandparents or other elderly people you want to make sure are safe.
Apart from that, it can also save you while you’re traveling. By setting up a location you’re going to reach during your next trip, iHound can send hotels and restaurant reviews to your phone when you get to your destination. Remember what we told you about shopping lists before? The iHound app can also help you with that.
In case you wonder how much it costs, this tool comes with subscription plans that you can learn from more iTunes or the Google Store. However, we can tell you that downloading the app will cost $3.99, which also includes a 3-months plan that has to be renewed once that period of time is over. iHound requires iOS 4.0 or Android v2.2 and can be found here.
If you want an app that can be used on even more devices, you can go for the mSpy one. This one comes with a version compatible with not just iOS, but also Windows, Android and Mac OS. That being said, it can be used on not just cellphones and tablets, but it also works perfectly fine with laptops and desktop computers.
mSpy is a little more complex than the previous tool, and it doesn’t just help with geofencing. The same tool can be used to monitor calls and read your text messages on a PC. It can also monitor the internet use in your house or at your company, in case your own a small business.
If you’re a busy person who’s booked in advance for conferences and meetings, you can use mSpy to access your calendar no matter where you are. Speaking about its geo-fencing feature in particular, though, this tool can be used to create various restricted and authorized areas in your home or your company. It can also show details regarding the number of visits, the times and many other details for each particular zone you’ve created.
Apart from these aspects, this spying app sends you an email or a text messages whenever a predefined area has been entered by someone. It can send you the same kind of message when that zone has been exited. While this tool may not help you with more consumer-related needs like shopping and traveling, it’s a great safeguarding tool to protect your kids, family members, yourself and your business. It costs $40 per month for mobile devices, but you can check more pricing options on their website.
Still aimed at those of you who own a business or a shop, ValuText is a simple tool that lets those who sell in certain shopping centers design deals for their customers. These deals will be customized based on where exactly they are, and in order to determine their location, the clients will need to give their email address, phone number and preferences for buying.
The same app can also be used in reverse – that is, by customers themselves. In this case, it makes sure that you only receive the deals that you’re interested in and rewards you with points that you can use later on when shopping. The tool is compatible with BlackBerry, Android and iOS, and you can learn everything about it from the Samy website.
A tool that can be used for both consumer and employee purposes is Highster Mobile. As the name clearly indicates, this is a tool that only works with mobile devices. In this case, it can monitor everything that is happening on a certain phone including text messages, social media activity, phone calls, browsing history, as well as videos and pictures taken.
It is extremely useful when monitoring what your kids are up to, but it can also be installed on a work phone that is being handed to an employee. This way, you can make sure that everyone is doing their work properly and that these phones are being used strictly for work purposes.
There are no monthly fees with this one, so it only costs $70 to get it, and you can enjoy it for a lifetime. The good news is that you can also take advantage of it on a tablet, and it’s compatible with Android and most iOS devices – iPhones, iPads, iPods running on version 4.0/later.
The Mobiflock Mobile Guardian is a good alternative to the previous app, in case you’re only planning to use it for tracking your children’s activity. This one costs $4/month, comes with a 7-days trial and many options for subscribing.
Using GPS, as well as a complex geofencing technology, this tool can block certain apps and websites, filter the kids’ browsing, schedule the time they spend on their smartphones, as well as their time online. It is also great for contacts management and can be used in order to block certain contacts that you consider to be dangerous for your children. It can be installed on Blackberry, iOS or Android, and its official web page is here.
If you only want to know where your kids are without invading their space and setting too many boundaries, you can use an app called Find My Kids from Footprints. This one can also be used on the elderly members of your family, but the bad thing about it is that it’s only available for iOS 4.3/newer devices.
To summarize, it tracks the kids’ movement throughout the day, alerts you whenever they get to different places or leave those ones and allows you to share their location. Because Footprints knows that it’s not only one person in the family who worries about the kids, you can also let their auntie, older brother or worried grandparents know when you found them.
The app lets you set up various dangerous locations and get notified when the children get there. Using GPS to work properly, the tool can be installed for free at the beginning, and it will then work on a subscription-basis.