I'm taking a project course in September, which involves 3 senior electrical engineering students and 3 senior computer engineering students (I'm in comp eng). We have to make some innovative product that's useful. I'm thinking of project ideas right now and came up with one. I wanted to share this and see how well you guys receive it:
The project is a stolen item locator, such as for cars. It would be a GPS/cellular device placed inside your car and automatically turned on through some mechanism when you realize your car is stolen. It can then report the geolocation of the car to you.
It would essentially be a cell phone that utilizes GPS. It would use the same identification (e.g. SIM card, I know there might involve some quasi-illegal methods of extracting information from SIM cards) as your cell phone.
Say you came back from eating out and realized your car is gone. Now you turn off your cell phone, and the device inside your car, which constantly tries to register with your service provider but can't since your phone is turned on, will now be able to register. Upon connection, it immediately logs GPS locations and reports it through a edge or 3G Internet to some website service, say every 10 seconds. You can then check the real-time location of your stolen vehicle and assist the police on a crackdown.
Because everyone has a cell phone plan already, and with the oncoming of iPhone releases, people will have 3G/edge and GPS services provided through their plans. This device would simply be secondary device that utilizes services from your plan. Thus, there is absolutely no additional cost beyond the device.
I'm taking that this would be quite a big task for 6 people. Software stacks would have to be written if I find no open source ones, albeit a very small subset. A 3G or at least 2.5G cell phone with GPS capabilities would have to be built, maybe not from scratch but definitely custom to lower costs (our budget is $400, but I plan on spending only $100).
The reason I personally want something like this is partially due to my car stolen last year. I remember staying pissed off for about an entire 2 weeks and constantly imagining the things that I'd do to the mofo that stole it. With this device, I would be able to find my car quickly and do whatever the hell I was imagining but couldn't do.
So yeah how do you guys like this?