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Button TrackR adds crowd sourced tracking to search for lost objects

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June 18, 2013

Button TrackR is a coin sized device to track objects via a smartphone app

Button TrackR is a coin sized device to track objects via a smartphone app

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Anyone with a propensity to misplace keys knows how irritating it is to look for them when you are running late. But help is at hand for those people with a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone that can connect to tracking devices such as Button TrackR, a coin-shaped little number currently fundraising on Indiegogo. One of the innovations that Button TrackR introduces to this growing market niche is crowd sourced tracking that helps extend the search party.

Similar to the coin-shaped StickNFind, Button TrackR, developed by Santa Barbara, California-based tech start-up Phone Halo, can be attached to any object, as well as people and pets that you want to keep track of. It uses low-power Bluetooth and covers a range of around 100 feet (30 m). The accompanying app can simultaneously track up to ten Button TrackR units so the user can keep track of their most cherished things as well as the loved ones.

To extend the potential search range, the Button TrackR broadcasts this unique ID that can be detected by other users running the Button TrackR app on their phone when they come within range the device. This information is then sent in a message to the cloud server containing the GPS coordinates and passed on to the person who lost the item.

“Many devices just record the last known GPS coordinates. Button TrackR broadcasts a unique ID so that users can get updates of where their stuff is,” Chris Herbert, Phone Halo CEO, tells Gizmag. “This opens up new applications such as using as a lojack for bikes, luggage tracking, and more."

Other features includes a reminder alert for those objects we want to take out with us, a hot/cold distance indicator and the possibility of either sticking the Button TrackR to the object (such as the lid of a laptop) or attaching it to a keyring.

The free app can work with several devices, including iPhone 4s and 5, iPad 3 and 4, iPad Mini, Android Samsung Galaxy S3, Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and Android 4.3 devices.

Those interested in funding the project on IndieGogo can chip in US$25 for one Button TrackR, $40 for two, and $90 for five. At the time of writing, the funding goal of $15,000 had well and truly been reached with over $285,000 raised.

The video pitch below shows the Button TrackR at work.

Source: Indiegogo

About the Author
Antonio Pasolini Brazilian-Italian Antonio Pasolini graduated in journalism in Brazil before heading out to London for an MA in film and television studies. He fell in love with the city and spent 13 years there as a film reviewer before settling back in Brazil. Antonio's passion for green issues - and the outdoors - eventually got the best of him and since 2007 he's been writing about alternative energy, sustainability and new technology.   All articles by Antonio Pasolini
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8 Comments

Déjà vu?

I swear we've seen this before.

TrackR wallet, yep.

StickNFind, yep.

Sigh....

Why not talk a little more about the "low power" BlueTooth (BLE) or Bluetooth SMART but now just Bluetooth from V4.0 onward.

Since plenty of us don't have S3's or 4s's onward and still rock the shorter range BlueTooth.

Actually, Mr Herbert. Make one to stick to my S2 which talks to the others via BLE and to my S2 V3 so I too can play lost and found silly buggers.

Craig Jennings
18th June, 2013 @ 10:02 pm PDT

This is a copy of SticknFind. I ordered via their website and product works well with my iphone. The advantage of sticknfind is that you get a radar with zoom levels, that can actually help you find lost items (as long as you remember to stick a sticknfind to them). I have used it and it can help me find any object within my house. The Trackr seems to have no radar in order to locate objects. It only supports an advance leash. Why is this news? This is just a copy...

AndrewTurn
18th June, 2013 @ 10:35 pm PDT

I can only think of a couple of situation where this would be useful and justify the cost of power source. It would be dropping the keys while trying to open the car door in snowed down or water logged parking lot. In either situation one would want to find the keys ASAP. Would this work in this situation? I doubt very much.

Does not indicate the kind of power source involved. In any case would it not have to be switched on all the time to be found ?? Try finding run down handset of your cordless phone !

pmshah
19th June, 2013 @ 06:23 am PDT

Not a copy of SticknFind. This uses crowdsourcing to locate the stuff which is a very smart concept and blending of resources. SticknFInd is 1 to 1 user-stuff interaction. Button Tracker instead enables the user of the app to send notifications without even know they are doing it.

I just cannot imagine the potential for the missing people problem, lost luggage at the airports, lost stuff in hotels, you name it... Your stolen car will be easily found and thieves will have to invent I-DONT-KNOW-WHAT-IN-HELL kind of technology for not getting caught. All the people using WAZE will have eventually this device in their cars. Bye Bye lojack SO-DAMN-EXPENSIVE services. This is a very disruptive mix of concepts.

Congratulations to the creators! My most humble congrats. I am officially impressed.

Sergio Espinosa Rivera
19th June, 2013 @ 06:36 am PDT

But I question the the effectiveness of "crowdsourcing" in this context. It SEEMS like a good idea, until you think it through.

How many people are going to be RUNNING the Button TrackR software on their smartphones all the time? And if they aren't, how are they going to detect one?

Crowdsourcing only works if the crowd is actually looking. You can achieve almost the same thing with printed signs on telephone poles.

Anne Ominous
19th June, 2013 @ 10:30 am PDT

Andrew: the "crowd sourcing" for finding objects is a differentiator,

albeit one with limitations (thanks, Anne!).

It's an interesting option, and I tried to back it ... but the creators seem to have chosen to not accept PayPal, so they're not getting my money.

(Also, at least on a Mac / Safari, their payment page disallows a credit card number from being *pasted* in ... I can type it, and I can paste it in other fields, but *not* in the CCN field ... weird!)

(And, Indiegogo's software is refusing to let me contact the creators, even though one is *supposed* to be able to submit private comments without paying :)

Stan Sieler
19th June, 2013 @ 11:53 am PDT

This is a product that hasn't quite reached maturity. Needs to be made smaller, and longer range. I suggest a process like lojack and other property recovering systems. Maybe a phone connection that allows the owner to ping where the item is located and then zeros in via bluetooth when you get closer. Also need to allow law enforcement to temporary have access to your code or serial number allowing pinging and locating.

Much innovation needs to be done before it is worth the money.

S Michael
25th June, 2013 @ 09:51 pm PDT

Since Waze is also croud-sourced, I'd like to see this linked with them since they're already established. How about it, Chris?

Harleyuki
8th July, 2013 @ 02:27 pm PDT
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