Print 13 comment(s) - last by sorry dog.. on Jan 8 at 11:00 AM

Smartphone apps help you solve a common problem

If you're a tech fan with a propensity to place crucial objects (e.g. keys, wallet, etc.) in strange locations about your house (ADD?) then TrackR's wallet and StickR tags seemed potentially to be the solution you've been searching for.

I thought up the premise of this product years ago -- a tag you attach to your keys, wallet, etc. -- but was disappointed to see in never came to the market.  But some companies -- including TrackR -- are finally making that vision a reality with wireless tags coupled with smartphone apps.

At CES Unveiled the best such solution I saw was TrackR, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based startup.  Speaking with company cofounder Chris Herbert I learned about how he in February reached out to crowdsourcing platform IndieGogo to get the $10,000 USD he needed to develop the rectangular wallet tracker tag.

Overwhelmed by the $47,000+ USD response, he brought in more people and launched a second IndieGogo campaign to make a round fob that can be attached to a keychain or stuck on various objects.  This goal was not only reached, it pulled in a whopping $352,000 USD, which was good enough to attract venture capital backing.

The TrackR key fob, in hand [Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]

Now his firm is on the big stage showing off its wares.  A glasses tracker was considered, but felt short of its funding raising goal -- nonetheless it may be a target TrackR eventually returns to.

The TrackR devices use the latest and greatest Bluetooth 4.0 protocol, a low power wireless profile that allows them to have a full year of battery life.

TrackRTrackR interfaces wireless with your tablet or smartphone.
[Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]

Versus many of the vendors at unveiled one thing that impressed me was that Chris spent the time to program a TrackR app for Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android, as well as Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) iOS.  As like last year, most connected peripherals still remained iOS only, despite the fact that iOS occupies as little as a quarter of the U.S. market.

TrackR smartphone
TrackR's smartphone app is available for Android and iOS.
[Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]

Turning away three out of four paying customers is foolish. I understand Android is a bit harder to program for than iOS, but it's still pure laziness to refuse to support the world's most used smartphone platform.  I was on a fence about writing an article about TrackR, given the wealth of connected products, but the Android app set TrackR a notch above many of its show floor competitors.  TrackR's app integrates local mapping services on each platform, as well as offering unique features like an anti-theft mode (which has the tag ring when it goes out of range of the phone), a hot-cold finder mode, and a crowdsourced database to see if anyone else found your missing keys/etc.

TrackR is also aggressively pricing the Wallet and StickR TrackR tags, which sell for $29 a piece, 2 for $39 (~$19.50 USD per unit), or 5 for $90 ($16 USD per unit).

TrackR wallet and keys
TrackR began shipping to its crowdsourcing supporters in December.
[Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]

Chris Herbert says the devices began shipping to the IndieGogo sponsors on Dec. 31. 

A final bit of background on the device's inspiration -- Chris Herbert related an entertaining story of what gave him the idea of founding TrackR.  Apparently his car was parked on a Santa Barbara shoreline surfing spot.  After some fun he went back to his car and realized he didnt have his keys.  As the tide advanced his car was literally in danger of washing away.  He was able to work it out, but the experience inspired him to invent TrackR.  The rest, as they say, is history.

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By BillyBatson on 1/7/2014 7:00:06 PM , Rating: 2
it isn't just about TrackR, there are at least a half dozen different brands of this same tech with a few of them having better form factors than TrackR and there will be hundreds of brands across the gone within a couple of years it's not like it is complicated tech. I personally don't see the use for myself as I never misplace anything and the only thing I ever go have missing are BIC Lighters when a friend pockets one which if it has a TrackR on it I would lose 2 things :)

By hughlle on 1/7/2014 7:52:45 PM , Rating: 2
I'f i'm likely to misplace my keys or wallet, i'm just as likely to misplace the phone that would supposedly find them. Or have people never heard the phrase "can you buzz my phone"

By Mitch101 on 1/8/2014 10:00:46 AM , Rating: 2
Panasonic KX-TGA20B DECT 6.0 Key Detector $20.00

$20.00 problem solved in finding your keys. I have this and needed it because I have a keyfob for logging into work and a wife and kids that move my keys or put papers and other items over my keys without thinking.

If you have a Newer Panasonic home phone system grab any one of them and choose find keys (you can pair multiple key sets) from there the keys will beep and when you point the phone and it tells you what direction they are with signal meter.

Another great feature of Panasonic phones is you can also sync your cell phone with it. My work cell will always ring when Im on the other side of the house now I can grab the any phone in the house to pick it up.

Be sure to turn off notify every time you get a text message that will drive you insane.

By danjw1 on 1/7/2014 8:53:10 PM , Rating: 2
Your Andriod or iOS device can track it. It can also generate a tone on your device, even when in silence mode. So, that could help. Everyone forgets something at one time or another.

By AssBall on 1/7/2014 10:56:16 PM , Rating: 4
I never lost my car keys when they were 50 cents. Now that they are $400, they are tricky to find sometimes.

By sorry dog on 1/8/2014 11:00:54 AM , Rating: 2
...and that's not including the tow bill.

can anybody tell me when auto dealers cornered the locksmith market. Didn't realize that happened until wife lost only key to her Nissan and had to get a flatbed to fix it.

Android bias much?
By CharonPDX on 1/7/2014 6:03:17 PM , Rating: 2
...despite the fact that iOS occupies as little as a quarter of the U.S. market.

Yes, but iOS users are more likely to spend more money on accessories and apps than Android users. I've seen many different numbers, but the most conservative of them has it at 2x as much, the most generous 5x. If we split the difference and call it 3.5x, that more than makes up the difference. (3/4 * $1 = $0.75; 1/4 * $3.5 = $0.875)

Like it or not, iOS users are more likely to spend money, so that's what developers target. And many developers do bring support to Android later, especially developers of hardware devices that use Bluetooth.

RE: Android bias much?
By futrtrubl on 1/7/2014 9:25:33 PM , Rating: 2
For Bluetooth apps it's not even that. Bluetooth Smart (Low Power) is only supported on Android 4.3 and above and that is a much smaller fraction of the market than iPhone.

RE: Android bias much?
By bodar on 1/7/2014 11:28:16 PM , Rating: 2
A lot of Android apps can't even be bought, they only provide ad-supported versions, possibly for the same reasons. It's very annoying when sometimes you want to tell the dev, "No really, shut up and take my money!"

By Heidfirst on 1/8/2014 4:02:00 AM , Rating: 3
"or 5 for $90 ($16 USD per unit)"
mmm, surely that should be $18 each ...

Where did I leave my phone...?
By Boze on 1/7/2014 5:19:43 PM , Rating: 2
Where'd I leave my tablet??

Jesus, I don't have access to ANYTHING ANYMORE !

By syslog2000 on 1/8/2014 8:49:29 AM , Rating: 2
Not sure why you think Android is a bit harder to develop for. I write apps for both and Android seems much simpler to me. iOS is not hard either, but you do get hung up on the execrable syntax of Objective C, which can get quite hard to read.

By syslog2000 on 1/8/2014 8:49:29 AM , Rating: 2
Not sure why you think Android is a bit harder to develop for. I write apps for both and Android seems much simpler to me. iOS is not hard either, but you do get hung up on the execrable syntax of Objective C, which can get quite hard to read.

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller

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