There's nothing more frustrating than losing a pair of keys when you're on the way out the door ... except maybe losing your cell phone in that same scenario. Or your wallet. Or sunglasses. Fact is, there are a lot of small, easy-to-lose items that are essential for daily living. So why not keep track of them with an electronic bloodhound, that stays on the scent 24/7? That's the idea behind the Gadget Hound.
Like any good Labrador retriever, my best buddy Duncan has a powerful sense of smell that doesn't take time off. So when I lost my keys in a snowy parking lot, I thought he might be able to home in on my scent and find them for me. Much to my excitement, Duncan began digging furiously within seconds of arriving on the scene. What a smart boy!
Unfortunately, like that of any good Labrador retriever, Duncan’s sense of smell is related directly to snacks, treats, meals and not much else. What he dug up wasn't my keys at all, but an old, tattered ice cream bar wrapper. After wrestling it out of his jowls, I put him back in the house and continued the search on my own.
The moral of that short story is to either train your dog for tracking better than Duncan, or forget about the real dog and get an electronic hound that's not affected by the temptations of the grand buffet wafting into his nostrils every second of every day.
The Gadget Hound is just that electronic hound dog. The system combines a handheld transmitter with a number of small receivers. Attach a receiver to an item that you tend to lose – cell phone, glasses, keys, remote control, etc. – and you can track it down with the transmitter. Each Gadget Hound includes four or six separate receivers, each of which corresponds to a button on the transmitter. Press the appropriate button, and the corresponding receiver delivers a loud beep that guides you to your lost belonging. You could use the Gadget Hound to keep track of up to six items that you're most likely to lose.
The Gadget Hound designers sought to improve, not innovate. There are plenty of other systems that do exactly the same thing, so the designers looked at the shortcomings of those competitors to build something that they feel is superior. In fact, they looked directly at customer feedback on Amazon to identify the problems that most needed solutions. They aimed to build a gear finder with an interface simple enough for users of all types, a versatile form factor good for finding even tiny objects, a robust range and reliable battery life.
Unlike app-based systems like Grok and BiKN, the Gadget Hound works independently of your smartphone, which should appeal to less tech-savvy folks, as well as folks that don't have the required smartphone operating system. It also means you don't need your smartphone to find your smartphone.
The device's creators also sought to build smaller, more versatile hardware than seen on other gear finders. The receiver is smaller than a quarter, which makes it useful for attaching to small, thin things like iPod shuffles and wallets.
The Gadget Hound packs enough range to track down an object at the other side of a 3,000 square-foot (280 sq-m) home. It works through walls, cushions and floors, meaning you should be able to find your item quickly without having to wander around obsessively pushing buttons. The sound was engineered to be audible over that range.
The product will hit the market this winter (Northern Hemisphere). It is currently available for pre-order on fund-raising site Indiegogo. A US$79 pledge gets you a two-button Gadget Hound Mini; a $99 pledge gets you the four-button Gadget Hound; and $129 gets you the six-button Gadget Hound Deluxe. The latter two models will be available when the Gadget Hound hits the market, but the Mini is an Indiegogo special that will not be available for retail sale.