When Tile's Selfstarter campaign broke records, it demonstrated a real-world demand for the ability to wirelessly keep track of objects. But for Tile, the success has a catch: In crowdfunding more than $2 million, the Bluetooth-enabled tracker also invited a flood of competitors.
Bringrr at least tries to set itself apart. Part USB phone charger and part tracking tag, Bringrr focuses on those who commute or travel by car. The USB car charger changes colors to notify you if you don’t have all your tagged items with you in the car. Instead of having to come back home, you're alerted about the missing object before you pull away.
Kensington's Proximo resembles the sort of traditional key fob you might use to access an apartment building or parking garage. The fob is fairly boring in that it’s designed for a key ring and has limited functionality, but that might be enough to target general consumers uneasy with complicated gadgets.
StickR TrackR is very similar to Tile, especially with its ability to tap into the user base and find lost/stolen items by proximity to other StickR owners. It also works in reverse. In addition to having the Bluetooth tracker emit sound, you can also press the tracker to have your phone make a noise, even if it’s on silent.
Of course, it's not just keys and wallets that people want to keep track of: There's also the family pet. The Beluvv Puppy is made to be worn on a pet’s collar and tracks exclusively through Bluetooth, meaning if the dog goes beyond the range of Bluetooth, you’ll be relying on other Beluvv owners to help triangulate the pup’s location. Most of the other trackers indirectly advertise the ability to use for pets, focusing on the indoor house cat who’s not likely to roam very far.
There’s also StickNFind, inSite, and a slew of other competitors all very similar in form and function. Find’em Tracking Cards veers sightly with a card that fits in a wallet, but the goals are all the same. It's a useful hack for the absent-minded, but most likely a fad.
This whole Bluetooth as a device reminder function feels very temporary. As convergence inevitably happens between phones and wearable technology, the problem of forgetting goes away. At some point you won’t forget your connected device because you just won’t be able to function without it, so leaving it behind won’t be an option.
Until that future arrives, however, it might be worth tagging your most valuable devices, or pets, so they don’t go missing.
[Image: Wikimedia Commons]