It never fails. I'm rushing out the door late to work and I can't find my keys or my wallet—and sometimes my smartphone. It's as if gremlins hid everything during the dead of night, though it's more likely the work of my kids in the case of my smartphone.
That's where tracking tags come in. All you have to do is adhere a small tracking tag on an item you habitually lose: your phone, the remote, the dog. Then, when it goes MIA, you can use either your smartphone or a locator unit to signal the tag to beep or flash a small LED light to signal its location.
There are two basic types of finders: Radio Frequency (RF) and Bluetooth. RF finders use a dedicated fob for tracking your devices, while Bluetooth finders work through an app on your smartphone. Range is about the same (30-100 feet, depending on the device and conditions), though you get more features with the Bluetooth tags.
Here are our favorite devices for finding all the lost things in our daily lives.
Click 'N Dig! Key Finder
The popular Click ‘N Dig item finder runs on radio frequencies (RF), like a cordless phone, and comes with one finder fob and six tags. Attach the tags to your easily lost items by adhesive backing or key ring. Each tag is color coded and corresponds to a colored button on the finder.
When an item goes missing, you press the colored button on the finder and the tag will flash and beep. The signal will go through walls and cushions, but you’ll need to be within at least 60 feet of your lost item.
The Click 'N Dig comes with extra batteries for the fob and tags. A transmitter with just 4 tags can also be purchased if you don't have a need for 6 receivers.
2 Way RF Find One Find All (FOFA)
Instead of having a finder and multiple tags, each FOFA device acts as both a finder and a tag. They come in a flat, credit card-sized style for your wallet and a key-fob style that can be attached with either adhesive or key ring. Up to six can be linked together. Each unit flashes red and sounds a 94bB alarm when signaled by any of the other devices.
The range on these is rather short, approximately 30 feet, and they have some issue working between floors, based on Amazon reviewer feedback. But this is balanced out by the ability to use any device to find any other one.
Bluetooth finders for smartphones
Attach a Kensington Promixo Bluetooth tag to your keys or bag, pair the tag with your smartphone and, when you lose track of an item, you can find them it with the Proximo app. The alerting works both ways; you use the app to find items with the tag attached and the tag can be set to automatically alert you if you get separated from your phone. This is great if you are in the bad habit of leaving your phone at public places or even in your car by accident. And if you leave an item behind, you can use the app's Last Seen function to view the item's last known location on a map. And if you don't want to get proximity alerts in specific places, like your home, you can set up Quiet Zones.
The Proximo system works with iPhone 4S and all iPhone 5 models, as well as iPad Mini and 3rd & 4th gen iPads. For Android devices, Proximo is compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S3 & S4, Samsung Note 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 3. In fact, if you get too far from your Samsung phone, the Proximo app will automatically lock the screen.
The Key Fob and Tag use readily available CR2032 lithium coin batteries, which lasts up to 6 months.
- $25.21 for 1 fob and 1 tag for iPhone 4S & 5
- $18.65 for extra tag for iPhone 4S & 5
- $37.44 for 1 fob for iPhone 4S/5/5C/5S and Android devices
- $23.99 for 1 tag for iPhone 4S/5/5C/5S and Android devices
Tile is another great item finder that works with the Bluetooth functionality of your phone. Smaller and thinner than most other tags, the Tile tag doesn't utilize a transmitter unit, but is located via the app. When you get within 50-150 feet of the lost object, the app will be able to tell you the direction you need to go to find it. There is no flashing light on the Tile but it will play an audible sound.
But what if you are out of range? That's where Tile really shines. It will use every phone with the Tile app installed to search for your Tile tag. If someone else's phone finds it, you will be notified of its location and your private information is never revealed to the phone owner. It will also remember the last location it received from the Tile tag.
Tile uses Bluetooth 4.0 and only works with iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 models, iPad Mini, iPad 3rd and 4th gen, and iPod Touch 5th gen. Tile is currently sold out , with new orders expected to ship this summer.
Price: $19.95 per Tile at thetileapp.com
[lost keys via Shutterstock]