Iridium inReach – Text Messaging From Sea!

delorme-inreach-iridium-messengerText messaging from sea has long been an option either via expensive internet at sea connections or via cheap (i.e. not reliable) systems like the SPOT Messenger, which do not have global coverage, but there has yet to be a simple low cost system that works EVERYWHERE at sea. And none of them allow you to send text messages via your own cell phone…. that is, until now!

DeLorme, a manufacturer of handheld GPS system, and Iridium, the only satellite phone provider with rock-solid pole-to-pole coverage, have teamed up to announce a new product they call inReach. The system is simple, it’s a small battery powered modem that connects your phone to Iridium satellites via bluetooth. Our friends at Panbo tell us:

As in a $250 standalone global SOS and tracking device that can also do two way messaging when connected via Bluetooth to an apps phone or tablet, or to DeLorme’s own Earthmate PN-60w.  As in the existing DeLorme/Spot system, except with longer messages, faster response, greater range, and probably more reliability. The main source of info so far — and a rather neat way to preview a product — seems to be a DeLorme inReach blog entry written by one of the designers, who is also answering questions from commenters. Details I noticed was that the communicator itself is less than five inches tall, antenna included, and runs on two AA batteries. The tracking interval can customized, and the message includes SOG, COG, and altitude. And that slider and SOS button means it will be hard to accidentally call out the calvary, apparently a standard for SENDs (satellite emergency notification devices) established by the ProTECTS Alliance I wrote about in December. Continue Reading…

So, in addition to text messaging, the inReach unit serves as a backup (not replacement!) for your ship’s EPIRB and a way for your friends, but only if you invite them, to track your location at sea.