Here's how you can set a proximity alarm with your smartphone.
The virtues of lost-and-found services like Find my iPhone and Android Device Manager are easy to recognize. People take their mobiles around with them wherever they go, making it all the more likely to lose or misplace their handsets. Of course, people have been carrying small items, such as wallets and purses, with them for generations, so why not have a way to keep track of those too? That's the idea behind "tagged" tracking devices that work with your smartphone.
It's not the first to come up with the idea, but Toronto-based company Find'Em Tracking claims to have the thinnest Bluetooth-based tracking device. At 2.4 mm thick with the surface area the size of a credit card, the Find'Em Tracking device is clearly meant to fit inside a wallet or purse.
The card pairs with your phone, and through an app you can set a desired range before you're alerted. The range settings are 5-10, 10-15, and 15-25 feet away from the phone, which are just approximations based on the estimated strength of a Bluetooth signal. Should the card venture far enough away, notification and sound alerts will come from the phone. Conversely, you can command the card to emit a beeping noise through the app, should you misplace it within earshot.
The tracking card is simple – maybe a bit too simple. It's completely flat with a small switch at the side. The switch itself isn't labeled, but a simple flick of it causes a "sync" light to flash, proving that it's an on/off switch. Then there's a sync button (which doesn't reveal itself to be a button until you press down on the card) that's used to pair it with your Android or iPhone. It's powered by a pair of removable CR2015 lithium batteries, which are good for between 8 and 18 months, depending on usage.
The Find'Em Tracking app is pretty basic as well. We used the Android version, which could use a little polish. The UI is simple, which is usually good, but it's lacking information. The settings menu is under a pull down arrow, and inside are toggles for range, though it lists no units. We're still not sure what that diamond shape does on the main radar screen. It works, but there's a lot of room for improvement.
In daily use as a wallet tracker, it's a bit of a gimmick. It can remind you if you try to leave the house without it, but we wouldn't rely on it as an anti-theft device. A clever thief will be out of Bluetooth range in no time, though it could alert you early enough for you to cancel your credit cards before any damage is done.
Parents of young children could put one of these in their child's pocket to act as a backup alert system should he or she wander too far. We're not saying it's a replacement for keeping a watchful eye, but there are other practical uses for this proximity alert system.
One interesting use suggested by the makers of the product are to put this in your luggage, and rather than inspecting every single bag that rolls by, simply just sit back and wait for a beeping signal as the bag hits the carousel.
At $25 each (or $45 for two), it's not a pricey accessory – some people pay far more for their phone cases – but it's a solution to a problem that most people don't need solved. If it's something you need, then you'll find all the preorder details on the Find'Em Tracking site.