Published on October 31st, 2014 | by Tom Wake1
How to find any lost item using your smartphone
Imagine if every time you lost something you could simply grab your phone, press a button and it would guide you to where it is.
Well, that’s exactly what you can do with a raft of new ‘seek and find’ gizmos that have exploded onto the market recently.
By combining GPS technology with smartphone software, you can now stick little tabs or fobs (often no larger than a coin) to any valuables you want to keep track of.
If you lose the said valuable, you can simply press a button on your phone and it’ll guide you to it via a map or by beeping and flashing. Magic!
You can even set ‘zone alarms’ on them, meaning that if, for example, your keys are separated for your phone (maybe you’ve left them at work or in a restaurant) it’ll send you an alert.
This technology is really taking off and as more manufacturers have entered the arena the price and size of these gadgets has started dropping dramatically.
I’ll show you where you can get hold of them in just a moment, but first I wanted to run through the pros and cons.
What are the Pros and Cons of these ‘tracker’ devices?
We’ll get the negatives out of the way first…
There are some limitations. In most cases you have to be within range of the device (usually within 100 – 150ft) for it to be able to locate itself. That should be fine for most users, but it’s worth bearing in mind. With that said, some of these products have come up with a clever workaround for items that are lost further a field. The most effective of these is something called ‘crowd GPS’, which taps into the collective power of multiple users.
So in simple terms, if someone has the same tracking app on their phone as you, their device will act as a tracker for your lost item (this works anonymously and only you will be told the location).
Another negative that a number of users have pointed out is that sometimes the zone alarms can be irritating. You might not want to get an alert that you’ve moved away from your phone when you’ve just popped out of the house for 10 minutes. The simple fix for this is to set the zone alarms manually, only when you need them.
The positives are that you can use these devices to track virtually anything…
– Small personal items (wallets, handbags, keys, phones etc)
– Pets (dogs, cats, anything with a collar)
– Luggage (be the first one to know when you’re suitcase is about to come out of the carousel)
– Toddlers! (a handy extra safeguard)
– Bicycles (get alerted if the bike you’ve locked up nearby is being moved)
7 of the best ‘lost item’ trackers
1. Hip Key
On the larger side, but still a sleek and beautifully designed disc that can be attached to a keyring, placed inside a wallet or pet collar. This device has the largest range of all the gizmos mentioned in this article.
Features: 164 foot radius, zone alarm, rechargeable usb battery (lasting 2-4 weeks). Compatible with iPhone only.
2. Stick n Find
The USP here is that this tiny disc like device sticks to things. So you can easily fix it onto any valuables you want to track. It has a small buzzer and light so you can find it in the dark and it takes a standard watch battery which should last around 1 year. It also has a crowd GPS so you can find lost items if other Stick n Find users are near.
Features: Sticks onto objects, coin sized, zone alarm, takes standard watch battery, 100ft range, has buzzer/light, crowd GPS
By far the smallest, sleekest and lightweight of all the devices featured. It’s hardy and waterproof and comes with a great app that supports crowd GPS. There’s also no charging necessary – the only downside is that you need to replace it after 1 year. The app has a clever feature that remembers the last place a tile was recorded.
Features: Coin sized, zone alarm, 100ft range, no batteries, year life span, waterproof, crowd GPS, supports up to 8 tiles. Compatible with iPhone (Android coming soon)
Costs: $20 (discounts if you buy more)
4. Kensington Proximo
The Proximo takes a slightly different approach. You can buy both a fob and a tag. The tag, like most of these devices is coin sized and has a proximity alarm. The fob has a button on it that will help you find your phone (in case you lose that!) so they’ve covered all bases here!
Features: Tags are coin sized, take CR2032 Lithium coin battery (last up to 6 months), you can have up to 4 of these, you can also have a fob for your keys, zone alarm. Compatible with iPhone, Galaxy S and Galaxy Note 3
The Trackr is another device that ticks most of the boxes. It’s sleek, coin sized and sticks onto things with the adhesive label provided. Like the Proximo it also has a feature to help you locate your phone.
Features: Coin size (slightly thicker), 100ft range, sticks onto things, Crowd GPS, customisable alert sounds, 1 year battery life, replaceable CR2106 battery, button on trackr to help you locate your phone. Compatible with iPhone and Android
Bikn’s tagline sums up the service pretty well: “Your phone finds your stuff, your stuff find your phone”. What’s really different about Bikn’s offering is that you get a phone case as well as your tag. This case works even if your phone battery is dead, it also has a handy paging facility for when there’s no network coverage.
Features: Zone alarm, rechargeable battery, connect up to 8 phones and tags, page other users when no network coverage available. Contemptible with iPhone only
Zomm’s unique selling point is its emergency alarm button. If the user is unable to reach their phone they can press a button that will call the emergency services. This could be useful for anyone with a serious health complaint.
Features: Coin like size but chunky, zone alarm, rechargeable battery, connect up to 8 phones and tags, page other users when no network coverage available, one push emergency services button, Contemptible with Android only
I hope you find this useful.
If you’ve got any tips or recommendations for using one of these devices please feel free to leave a comment below.