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Can’t find your keys? Forgot to take them with you? If only your keys could call out to you and fix this everyday mess. Well, if you have a smartphone, all you need is one of these cool gadgets to be reminded of your keys and find them if they’re missing.

Object-finders are a hot new market. These are little devices that you either stick onto your keys or loop through your keyring — or anything else you lose often, like the remote control. Using Bluetooth technology, the gadget wirelessly communicates with your smartphone to either emit a beep or guide you to where it is. A lot of them require the new Bluetooth 4.0 standard, which has higher range and lower battery consumption; but some work on older Bluetooth devices too. Ideally, you should check whether your smartphone has Bluetooth 4.0 or not before you buy one of these.

hippih hipKey ($89.95)

Hippih_hipKey_Keys

hipKey is a keychain that pairs with your iPhone and lets you know whenever your iPhone and your keys are too far apart. Five centimetres in diameter, it tracks the distance between the two items and lets you set the triggered range from short, medium or long (from 2-5 metres up to 50 metres) through the smartphone app. You can also designate ‘safe zones’ like home or office where normal alarms will be ignored. With a tap on the smartphone app, you can find your hipKey; and also be notified if the hipKey is moved while in Motion Mode. And hipKey has a button to locate your phone, in turn.

  • Works with Bluetooth 4
  • Supports iPhone 4s and up; iPad Mini & iPad (3rd gen and up); iPod Touch (5th gen and up)
  • Rechargeable battery; lasts 2-4 weeks
  • Built-in speaker for sound
  • Supports GPS
  • Motion sensor
  • Availability: Now

<Kensington Proximo ($59.99)

Proximo by Kensington, a company known for its security solutions, works much like hipKey but with one big difference: it has a main fob and the option to pair several tags. The fob is what you attach to your keys, for instance, so that it always tracks its distance to your iPhone, setting off an alarm if it crosses a certain perimeter. To find one, hit the button on the other and they’ll emit beeps. Additional Bluetooth tags let you track up to four more items, which also come with a GPS function to find its last known position.

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  • Works with Bluetooth 4
  • Supports iPhone 4s and up
  • Replaceable watch cells; lasts 6 months
  • Built-in speaker for sound
  • Supports GPS
  • Price: $43.10 (on Amazon)
  • Availability: Now

Cobra Tag ($69.99)

For a cross-platform solution, Cobra Tag seems like a worthy choice. It works on older Bluetooth devices, so it supports iOS (5+), Android (2.1+) and BlackBerry (OS 4.5+) devices. With a range of up to 30 feet, it sets off an alarm when the link between the smartphone and keys is broken — and you can manually find the device by hitting a button on the other. The rechargeable battery typically lasts for 7 days, and you can use other Bluetooth devices on your phone alongside the Cobra Tag. However, the Cobra Tag can only be connected to one smartphone at a time.

  • Works with Bluetooth 3
  • Supports devices on iOS 5+, Android 2.1+, BlackBerry 4.5+
  • Rechargeable battery; lasts 1 week
  • Built-in speaker for sound
  • Price: $43 (on Amazon)
  • Availability: Now

ZOMM Wireless Leash Plus ($79.95)

The ZOMM Wireless Leash Plus is just like the hipKey and Kensington Proximo, but with one major difference: a microphone. With this, you can turn the Wireless Leash Plus into a hands-free device and also hold down the one-touch button to call 911 in the US in the event of an emergency. The Wireless Leash Plus has an iPhone app while Android users can buy the identical Wireless Leash.

  • Works with Bluetooth
  • Supports devices on Android and iOS
  • Rechargeable battery; lasts 2-3 days
  • Built-in speaker for sound
  • Noise-cancelling microphone
  • Availability: Now

Tile

It hasn’t even shipped yet, but Tile promises to be the coolest accessory you can buy. About 1/3rd the size of a credit card, each Tile ships with double-sided adhesive tape to stick it on keys or use the hole to loop your keychain. Once paired with your smartphone or other device, you can have it emit a sound to track down the item, find it with a meter that tells you how close or far you are, and even mark an item as “lost” so that when there’s another user with a Tile close to it, you’ll get an alert with the GPS coordinates. It currently works only with iOS devices.

  • Works with Bluetooth 4
  • Supports iPhone 4s and up; iPad Mini & iPad (3rd gen and up); iPod Touch (5th gen and up).
  • Non-replaceable battery lasts 1 year.
  • Built-in speaker for sound.
  • Supports GPS.
  • Price: $19.95
  • Availability: Spring 2014

Button TrackR

Like Tile, the Button TrackR is another promising concept. Unlike Tile, it works with Android devices too. About the size of a coin, the Button TrackR can be stuck to objects with double-sided tape or attached to items with the provided strap. Once paired with your smartphone, it can alert you when you are leaving it behind and can be tracked down with the app or by emitting a customizable tone. In turn, click the button on the TrackR and your phone will ring, even if it’s on silent. Button TrackR stores its last GPS position when you go out of range, and can communicate with other TrackR devices to update you of its position. According to their website, the estimated delivery date is October 2013 with no indication of shipping date. However, you may place a reservation if you’re interested.

  • Works with Bluetooth 4
  • Supports iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Mini, New iPod Touch, Samsung Galaxy S3, Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung Note 2
  • Replaceable standard coin cell, lasts for 2 years in normal use
  • Supports GPS
  • Price: $25
  • Availability: Not updated

My favourite, and yours?

Of all these choices, I’m most excited about the Tile and Button TrackR. I love the idea of these little gizmos that stick onto objects to find them whenever I want, and forget about them for the rest of the year. Unfortunately, neither is available right now, but I’m willing to pre-order and wait.

What about you? Which of these key-finders do you fancy? Will you wait for the Tile?

Image credit: Sky Eckstrom

  1. IHateBluetooth
    February 10, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    Wow... you guys are suckers for Bluetooth! All of these products are ineffective at being able to find something more than 10 meters away! I bought a Zomm but eventually threw it away because it was so annoying - setting off an alarm even though my keys were in my pocket! StickNFind is possibly the most disappointing, with really poor build quality along with not actually doing what the manufacturers claim!
    I have gone back to my good old Loc8tor Lite - it has a superior range of up to 400ft - the handset (which is the size of a credit card and fits neatly in my wallet) actually directs you which way to walk to find your lost keys (but can be attached to almost anything), and always works!!!
    Don't waste your bucks on these new-fangled but useless gadgets and get something that really does what it says it will, better than any of these bluetooth con products! Check 'em out for yourself at http://www.loc8tor.com

  2. Anonymous
    November 26, 2013 at 1:29 am
  3. plasbot
    November 23, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    I'm not sure why my previous comment was moderated, I just wanted to add that there are 2 other devices: StickNFind and TruFob, that are already for sale. I had written all about the 2 but I guess I wrote too much.

  4. plasbot
    November 23, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    There is also the Stick-N-Find, which is already out. They are most similar to the Button TrackR. They have a replaceable battery, a speaker, and a led that lights up when you ping it. I was only able to find a few reviews on Amazon and only one was positive. They seem to have up their app and website since then though. They run 4 for $90 or 2 for $50. I did find a review on Youtube and they seemed to work fine but not very accurate locating.

    I also found this thing called TRUFob. It's available now on Amazon for $50, but I expect the price may go down it just came out. It seems to have been originally intended for luggage but is small enough so they are marketing it for other uses. It was hard to find the info but it does use Bluetooth 4 and also the same type of crowdsourced 'lost item' strategy like the Tile. Replaceable battery and 'the ability to use as wireless camera remote'. Don't get excited it doesn't have a camera that just means you can use it as a remote clicker for you camera. Not sure why they would put this completely unrelated feature in I guess it was easy to implement. I had to laugh when I read this in their Facebook About section: "TRUFob is ready to buy now, no Kickstarted promises." I couldn't find much info on the web about TRUFob but I think it's either because it was developed outside the US or the guys who made it are good at engineering but not marketing.

    All these devices are fantastic ideas, but it remains to be seen whether they will work well out in the wild.

  5. Tarik R
    November 23, 2013 at 4:20 am

    I'm also excited about Tile and Button TrackR!! OMG I always knew this day was coming!

  6. KelBelle
    November 23, 2013 at 3:49 am

    I tried the cobra tag. It didn't hold a charge, wouldn't stay connected with my phone and just in general did not work. Back to the tried and true 'keys in a glass dish by the door' method.

    Thanks for the other options. Will have to try again soon :)

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