Little things get lost — a lot. And in this world of miniaturization, there are ever more little things. For a few years now, companies have been providing wireless "leashes" that send out Bluetooth signals that a smartphone app can use to hunt them down.
BluetagMe is the latest company to take a shot at that, but with a few twists. The tags are super-small — about the size of a quarter — and will presumably be cheap (the company hasn't named a price yet). An included smartphone app keeps track of the tags and displays their location on what looks like a radar screen.
BluetagMe is also a lifetime service to help you track down items when they wander beyond the 30 meters (about 100 feet) and the Bluetooth signal is lost.
The tags run on watch batteries that allow them to broadcast what's known as Bluetooth low-energy signals for about a year before the battery needs to be replaced. That's great if you misplace keys in the house or a day planner at the office, but no good if you leave a purse on the train.
That's where the service comes in. The tags also include near-field communication (NFC) chips that require no battery and are instead powered up when hit with a signal from an NFC reader (the same process that works with wireless keycards at office buildings). Of course, not many people (if any) carry NFC readers, so the tags also have QR codes that a bunch of free smartphone apps can read by snapping a photo. Scanning the tag sends an alert to the owner via SMS or a Facebook message. BluetagMe writes on its website that its goal is to "keep price below $49" for lifetime service.
The company isn't promising a delivery date yet, but it might get a boost if it wins New York's Next Top Makers competition. It's one of 56 entries in a program that is like a combination of America's Next Top Model and Kickstarter. Teams that prevail in the online voting (which begins on March 8) receive up to $11,000 and five months of free office space, a budget to buy materials and other assistance to bring their products to market.
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