Lost Wallet? Device Tracker Uses 'Crowd GPS', Smartphone

John Lister's picture

A $30 tracking device could make it easier to find lost wallets or other items, but there's a big catch. While the "TrackR" range works fine around the house, if you lose your wallet while away from home, you may be reliant on other people having subscribed to the service.

The range is billed as being the smallest tracking devices on the market. It comes in two models: the $30 TrackrR wallet 2.0, which is a two millimeter thick credit card-sized device for putting into a wallet, and the $25 TrackR Pixel, which is a similar size to a quarter coin but a little thicker, designed for attaching to keys and other small items. Both have user-replaceable batteries. (Source: tomsguide.com)

Tracker Device Can Ring And Glow

In both cases, users can find their lost items by searching for the device through a smartphone app that not only shows the location on a map, but indicates when they are getting closer. It's also possible to make the TrackR ring and, in the case of the Pixel, light up to make it easier to find.

Phone users can also reverse the process by pairing the TrackR device to the phone, then keeping the TrackR in a safe place at home. Pressing a button on the TrackR will make the phone ring, even if it is set to silent mode - assuming of course that the user notices it is missing before the battery runs out.

Customers Create Mutual Search Network

The big drawback is that the system primarily works on Bluetooth, meaning that the TrackR has to be within 100 meters or so of the user's phone. Beyond that, the company uses a creative 'crowd GPS' workaround by which a user can mark their device as lost. After that, the next time another TrackR user goes within Bluetooth range of the lost device (and has Bluetooth and the app enabled), the user will get an alert with its location.

How well this works depends on how many people use the device. It will also vary depending on location, being much more useful in busy urban centers than in rural areas. (Source: theverge.com)

What's Your Opinion?

Would such a device be useful for you? If so, would the price tag make it worthwhile? Is the 'crowd GPS' solution sensible and do you trust the company to take care of potential security and privacy problems?

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Dennis Faas's picture

The idea is certainly promising - but the major drawback if you lose your wallet away from home (for example) is that other users must have the "TrackR" app installed and Bluetooth enabled for it to work, plus they must be in range of the lost item.

All three of those are slim to none unless enough people are using the app. Personally I don't enable Bluetooth on my smartphone unless I absolutely need it because it will drain the phone battery much quicker.

At the $30 and $25 price point, I think the cost is too high considering what I already mentioned. If they brought the price down to $5 or so then a lot more people would likely use the app / service, and therefore make it much more reliable.

ecash's picture

There is always a new device that comes out to Help people.
The problems tend to be small, but there are more then a few.
How long do batteries last? If it less then 1 year? 6 month? every month?
Easy to replace, water proof..Some of this cant and wont be found out without OTHERS trying the device and the company improving it..

It does sound like an interesting device, but if Every person in the USA had only 1..the Code inside would need to be how long? even in HEX..

IF a new tech product can stay ion the market about 3-5 years...It will do very well. but it has to keep improving and answer questions..

Sparkydog's picture

I have tried both Tiles and TrackR's.
The problem with both is that they use Bluetooth.
That will work, in a house, but lose anything, anyplace else, and it's as good as gone, especially in small towns.
TrackR relies on other people having the TrackR app on their phones, with Bluetooth turned on.
As Bluetooth runs down batteries, faster, most people keep it turned off.
It just does not work out.
If a company came out with a tracker that used wireless GPS, THEN I would go for it.

ecash's picture

Why do they want you to add all this CRAP to your phone...
There are Limits to all this stuff.
Based on Batteries of both devices and Ranges they work UPTO...

Look up trackers for hunting dogs...Those are interesting but they STILL want to use your phone..
USE a regular radio signal and reciever...and you can track for a few miles..for a few days...