Have you ever lost your wallet? How about your phone? If you are a human being who owns things, chances are you are nodding your head in retroactive frustration. Unfortunately, the items we carry with us everywhere are bound to get misplaced at some point. The good news: We may soon have a solution, courtesy of the Internet of Things You Tend To Lose.
SmartWallet is a Bluetooth LE-enabled leather wallet that doubles as a backup phone charger. By wirelessly connecting our smartphones with our (heretofore dumb) wallets, the not-so-cleverly named product from Boston-based StreetSmart aims to dramatically reduce the odds of us losing either of them again.
"We saw that the most common approach to wearable technology development is to make devices that are bought for their innovative purpose," says StreetSmart cofounder Samuel Pofcher.
Innovative or not, wearable tech still faces a huge hurdle among mainstream consumers, who are still warming up to the idea of wearing gadgets on their bodies. An easy compromise, Pofcher and his cofounder Stephen Lamarre figured, would be to seamlessly weave technology into existing everyday items.
"We thought it would be an easy accessory to integrate within society because it's something everyone already carries," says Pofcher.
Here's how it works: Once your phone is paired with the SmartWallet, the two are always on the lookout for each other. If you leave your wallet at a restaurant, your phone will ding with a notification politely cluing you in to your own absentmindedness. If you get all the way home before realizing what a doofus you are, the SmartWallet app will map your wallet's last known GPS coordinates for you so you can go find it, presumably nobody else has.
If you've misplaced your wallet in a messy room rather than leaving it across town, the SmartWallet app can trigger a ringing sound that plays from the wallet's tiny, built-in speaker.
Meanwhile, should you misplace your phone (and it's still within Bluetooth range), you can use the SmartWallet to make the phone ring. This feature is only really useful if you're still in the same building as your phone (Sorry, your smartphone is still incredibly easy to steal), but it's handy for those times when your phone slips into a couch cushion or you leave it on the bathroom counter after playing Roller Coaster Tycoon 4 on the toilet.
As a bonus, these impressively slim wallets manage to squeeze in a backup battery for easy charging, tacking on up to 66% additional battery life. The charger implementation could be more elegant from a design standpoint, but it's a handy feature given the paltry battery life of many smartphones.
The SmartWallet, which is nearly halfway to its $35,000 Kickstarter goal, will initially ship in four designs. While the designs are not exactly Burberry impostors, there are fortunately a few options to choose from.
[Image: Flicker user Guy Sie]