The tracking device, also known as the portable tracker, was a surveillance device designed and built by the synthetic Ash. As its name implies, it was capable of detecting movement and providing corresponding locating information for the user.
In June 2122, 2 of the devices were constructed by Ash for use by the crew of the USCSS Nostromo in their efforts to find and kill the fully grown Alien (which the crew believed to still be a Chestburster). After the crew discovered the size of the creature when Samuel Brett was killed by it, Arthur Dallas came up with a plan to flush the Alien from the Nostromo's ventilation shafts and into the ship's main airlock so that it could be expelled into space, while Ash and Joan Lambert tracked its position with the tracking devices. After the plan failed when Dallas was killed, the devices were left in the Nostromo's mess hall and were ultimately destroyed when the ship's self destruct system, activated by Ellen Ripley, detonated.
The tracking device keyed on "micro changes in air density." When motion was detected within a certain distance, the device would begin to give of a signal and the source of the movement would be represented as a dot on the tracker's display. However, the range at which the device could detect movement was short. The tube on the front of the tracker had "ELECTRO MAG FIELD TRACE" written on it.
After a Chestburster erupted from Thomas Kane in 2122 aboard the USCSS Nostromo, two tracking devices were constructed by the Hyperdyne Systems 120-A/2 Synthetic Ash in an attempt to locate the creature.
After the destruction of the Nostromo, all known tracking devices were destroyed along with the ship.
- Main article: Alien (novel)
In the novelization of Alien, the motion tracker is quite different to the version used on screen. It is far smaller, being only around the size of a communicator. When movement is detected, a tiny red light below the main screen illuminates, it beeps querulously and a crudely marked needle gauge set in the unit's face displays distance. The tracker is also capable of being silenced by touching a control, which Ash does when the crew are searching the ship and he detects Lambert or Dallas.
Unlike the tracker seen in the film, Ripley notes that it looks like it was assembled in a factory, instead of something "hastily cobbled together in a commercial tug's science lab."
Alien: The Illustrated Story
- Main article: Alien: The Illustrated Story
In Alien: The Illustrated Story, Parker beheads Ash with a tracking device, not a fire extinguisher as in the film.
Aliens: Colonial Marines
- Main article: Aliens: Colonial Marines (2013 video game)
- Main article: Alien: Isolation
In the Alien: Isolation DLC "Crew Expendable", the tracking device can be used by the player. For gameplay reasons, the tracking device features a screen like on the main game's Motion Tracker, allowing the player to more easily see where the Alien is. Strangely, the circular device has been moved from the left side of the tracking device to the right, despite the screen also being added to the right side.
Behind the scenes
The tracking device prop was built by Ron Cobb. The main body of the prop is a Panasonic Ranger-505 (or more likely the National Commando 505, National being a brand used by Panasonic outside the United States and presumably in the United Kingdom, where the film was made) portable TV with various cosmetics added, including an ice cube tray (left side), a Stadium black plastic 7" gully cover (right side), a 45mm diameter Vernier dial (top), and cut down plastic speaker grills (right, left and back side). The prop also features colored lights, a small television viewer, and a sound output to indicate detected movement. The key used with the prop is from a 1970's Vauxhall car.
At least two props of the tracker were made for Alien, with one currently owned by collector Bob Burns. However, Burns's tracker is not complete, missing "some of the knobs and switches", as well as the tube that started to the right of the gully cover and ran in front of the tracker, connecting with the front end of the handle. Strangely, a grill that does not appear in the film was added at an unknown time below the "probe" on the front of the tracker.
Aliens Predator Collectible Card Game use
The tracking device was presumably the inspiration for the Motion Tacker seen in Alien's sequel, Aliens. Additionally, the ice cube tray on the tracking device inspired to use of an ice cube tray-like detail on the motion tracker in Alien: Isolation.
- When the trackers are first introduced in the film, they emit a high-pitched humming when they register movement, as heard when they are first tested and when Ripley, Parker and Brett mistakenly detect Jones. However, when Dallas is in the air shafts, the devices instead issue a completely different beeping tone.
- Alien (1984 video game)
- Aliens: Colonial Marines (video game) (multiplayer only)
- Crew Expendable
- Last Survivor
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 202 (1979), Warner Books.
- ↑ Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 201 (1979), Warner Books.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 205 (1979), Warner Books.
- ↑ Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 203 (1979), Warner Books.
- ↑ Alan Dean Foster. Alien, p. 206 (1979), Warner Books.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 6.9 http://www.therpf.com/f45/alien-i-have-original-motion-tracker-emergency-helmet-hand-anyone-need-pics-62829/
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 Alien Anthology - The Anthology Archives - Alien - Post-Production and Aftermath - Miscellaneous - Laserdisc Archives
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 http://www.therpf.com/f9/finally-my-alien-motion-tracker-build-thread-finished-pics-post-56-a-89398/
- ↑ Ridley Scott, Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, H. R. Giger, Ivor Powell. The Alien Legacy (1999), Sharpline Arts [DVD].
- ↑ "Trade Cards Online - Sentry Gun Control". Retrieved on 2014-09-24.