How Does Location Tracking Functionality work?

All dynotags are powered by our industrial strength DCS: Dynotag Cloud Service running 7/24 to provide all the advanced features for your dynotags!  

To view the access log of a tag you own, simply sign in to your dynotag account and in the “My Tags” screen, click the tag you want to manage.  When the tag screen is shown, you will have “Access Log” as one of the operations on the left menu – simple choose that to view your tag’s access log.

Dynotag Smart Tags are maintenance free (no batteries to keep charged, no electronics to break) and  use passive technologies and use the viewer’s smartphone  or computer reading  the tag to supply the location information.  Smartphones use multiple mechanisms to get their location information (Wifi, Cell towers and GPS) so they have excellent location information even when indoors – where GPS does not work well.

There are devices on the market that use active GPS based location tracking (such as SPOT Satellite Messenger for personal use – or  Garmin Dog Tracker for tracking pets) which appear attractive at first glance – and may be appropriate for some uses – but have a number of shortcomings:

Active GPS based location tracking has the following issues:
  • Must have a battery to power the electronics (which is almost guaranteed to let you down someday when you need it most)
  • Must have GPS receiver so it can receive GPS location (works only outdoors)
  • Must connect to a cellular network or satellite service to supply the location information – or as in the case of Garmin – a powerful transmitter is placed in the collar.
  • Require one or more active, recurring  subscription plans (for the cell network, satellite operator, product company itself)
  • Must have sufficient battery charge to operate the GPS and the radio (batteries usually last a few days at most with continuous use).
  • Must be kept dry and protected against impacts that can hurt the electronics. (Most are water resistant but not waterproof.)
  • They add considerable weight to whatever they are attached to. (Pets don’t even like large small metal tags. How about a cellphone sized device on their collar?)
  • High purchase/ownership cost. (Cost of ownership of a good quality device is $100 or more, plus recurring subscription cost)
  • Require ongoing maintenance (keep fresh batteries in unit, keep charged, keep clean and dry!)
How many things do you need in your life to worry about the batteries of – and pay a recurring subscription for? Most people try to keep such devices to a minimum.
 
Dynotags, on the other hand:
  • Do not have any electronics
  • Do not have a battery
  • The information stored in a dynotag can be viewed by anyone with a computer or smartphone with Internet access.
  • Do not require recurring subscription plans.
  • Are very resilient to abuse, waterproof, weatherproof yet weigh very little.
  • The information content of a dynotag cannot be lost because it resides in the “cloud”, physical tag only contains the dynotag’s unique web address. A replacement tag can be obtained to utilize the same information by using the “Clone Tag” facility.
  • The information content can be updated by the dynotag owner anytime, anywhere on the globe using a web browser. Others can only view the dynotag to see what the owner decides to share.
  • Affordable, one time cost.

More about dynotag location tracking:

The location tracking functionality works via the application that views the dynotag. In other words, Dynotag Cloud Service (DCS) works together with the QR scanning application or web browser application that is used to view the tag. This is known as the BYOD application strategy. In simple terms, it means using the incredibly capable, network attached computers everyone carries in their pockets: The Smart Phone! This way, there is no need to duplicate the electronics, battery and network access already present in the smartphone.

Dynotag merchandise is passive – meaning there are no electronics, batteries or moving parts. This makes them very tough and secure.

All dynotag merchandise displays unique web address of a dynotag that is maintained by the DCS. That address is printed on the dynotag in a QR code that can be read by many smartphones and as a web address that can be typed into a web browser.

Smart phones have very good location services as they use multiple ways to pinpoint their location – Cellular network, WiFi hotspots nearby and built-in GPS. Consequently they can return very accurate location, even if they do not have the GPS turned on.

For laptops/desktop computers – the ones connected to a home network (fixed network, such as cable, DSL, even via a private WiFi) can return fairly precise location, within a block or so.

For any dynotag, the owner can log in and “View” the dynotag. On the owner view screen, there is a map with pins on it showing the locations of access, as well as a list of accesses (most recent first) with access time, location and estimated precision information. This map is visible only to the owner of the dynotag.

When any third party viewer reads the dynotag content by either scanning the QR code or visiting the web address of the tag via a web browser, dynotag server software asks the requesting application to report its location, as precisely as it can.

This results in a “Dynotag wants to learn your location, OK?” prompt from the web browser or QR code scanning application or web browser that is used to view the tag by the third party.

At that point, the viewer of the tag has a choice:

  • If they choose “Yes” then the browser or application will send the best coordinate information they have.
  • If they choose “No” then we do not get the precise coordinate information from that viewer. However, DCS still gets the Internet address of the viewer and try to infer the location from that. Precision is unfortunately lower in that case.

So –  in the case of a mobile viewer, if the viewer of the tag does not want to share the information, DCS will not get the precise coordinates. Even in that case, we fall back to the Internet address of the viewer the request was made from – and use a secondary, less precise mechanism to estimate where that IP address could be on the planet. While this strategy works OK most of the time, the precision can be low as it does not work well with smart phones because of the way wireless carriers handle Internet connections.

No matter who views the dynotag content around the planet, DCS always works to get the location information of the viewer and add that to the view log of the tag, as the access takes place. The owner of the tag is also sent a view notification email – if the feature is enabled by tag owner.

In a related note: On tags attached to your belongings, or with loved ones’ Emergency Info tags, we strongly recommend enabling “receive an e-mail when the tag is viewed” which is enabled by default. That way, you will immediately know when the tag contents are accessed.

Please note that by default all times marked in tag access logs are GMT – meaning  that they are Greenwich Mean Time (London standard). This helps record  the access time correctly no matter where on the planet the dynotag is viewed from.

In some cases, the tags are used to share information in a social network post and accesses can take place from all over the planet within minutes.  In other words, physical scanning of the QR code is not required to read the dynotag contents – all one needs to do is get the web address of the dynotag – and click on that link.

The DCS service records all tag view accesses in the “Access Log”  and pins the recent ones on the owner’s “tag view map” for quick and convenient review.  Access log entries with map icons indicate location information was acquired from the viewing device – and you can click the map icon to launch google maps on these coordinates.
When there is no location information available from the viewer, DCS logs the IP address of the viewer and a rough, imprecise estimate of location based on that IP address. You can see both types of entries in this sample access log snippet:

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