I have orderd this neat little GPRS/GPS dev kit from SparkFun Electronics.
It is essnetially a GPRS/GSM cell phone combo with integrated GPS capabilities. All in a matchbook sized module. Here is more details from the description on the SparkFun website.
This is the latest technology available to the M2M (Machine-to-Machine) market. The GM862-GPS combines the powerful GSM engine of the GM862 with a SiRF III 20-channel high sensitivity GPS receiver. Call up the module, issue the GPS query command, and you’ll have NMEA data! If this unit is within range of a cellular tower, you’ll know where it is within 9 meters anywhere on the surface of the earth.
The GM862-GPS includes all the technology of the previous modules including a python script interpreter, and quad band cellular capabilities (850/900/1800/1900MHz frequencies). Now you can harness all the power of the GM862 without the need for an external microcontroller. Simple Python programs can be loaded onto the GM862 controlling the GPIOs and issuing global cellular commands. Pin compatible module with upgraded internal memory for user programs.
You will need to provide a SIM card. Pull the SIM card from your phone, insert it into the module, and viola, you are making calls under your cellular account. Works with all providers currently supporting SIM cards (AT&T, T-Mobile, and Cingular).
The GM862 module is controlled via AT commands. This means all you have to do is send a string of serial characters such as “ATD 3035551234” and the module will place a call. No fuss, no mess. Once the module has connected to another module or modem, a serial connection is made and data can be transferred as simply as passing and receiving serial strings through the module.
The new GM862 module has camera capabilities! Made by Redtree Solutions, the 640×480 pixel Color Camera can take still color pictures and send the images (JPEG) through the serial interface or as attachments on an email. That’s right, you can embed the GM862 out in Winter Wonderland, snap a photo, and have the picture sent to your email box, all remotely through the cellular network across the globe, using simple serial commands. Software selectable camera exposure (night/day selection – 5lux) and jpeg compression level (low, medium, high). Camera can also be turned on/off remotely to conserve power.
This is ALOT of features packed into a small size module. The kit comes with a simple board that has a USB connector. And another thing which makes this package sweet it that its main form of communication is through a simple specialized AT command set through a serial connection. All you need to do is hook up the cell and GPS anteanas, insert a sim card (in a slot opening on the side of the module), plug the USB cable and you are set to go and start sending commands to it. Sure makes getting started easier, you mainly need to focus on implementing the software rather than the whole design.
I just got the unit this afternoon fo I have not played with it yet. But I will post more details as I make with this component. At ~$250 for a full dev kit, it’s a pretty good buy. Especially considered how feature packed it is.