What is all of this RFID talk about?
A RFID (Radio Frequency Identifier) is a small device used for tracking or identification. A typical tag consists of a chip, memory and antenna.
Most new RFID tags utilize Bluetooth technology.
RFID technology is nothing new.
It has been around for over 10 years already.
However, while it is nothing new, RFID is a technology that people remain highly interested in. It seems that in recent years an entire market for RFID has exploded.
Why do you need RFID?
How many times have you misplaced something? If you are anything like me, more times than you’d care to admit. I have spent more than a few minutes of my life looking for keys, sunglasses, and my debit card (a few times I have even been holding/wearing the item I’m looking for).
With RFID tags, you can place a small tag/sticker on items you frequently misplace, and use the tracking technology (often coupled with a smartphone app) to find your items quickly.
If you have ever lost your keys, phone, tablet, wallet, or remote; RFID tags can end the frustration. This is especially useful for business professionals always on the go.
Tag all of the things, even your dog
When you tag your phone, briefcase, laptop, or even your luggage, your smartphone will alert you when the item is out of a set range (say 100 feet) and when it returns. If you are at a conference and leave your briefcase in the meeting room, as soon as you get halfway down that long hallway, your smartphone will alert you that you’ve left the item behind and you need to go back for it. Super helpful.
RFID devices are even used with pet doors.
If you place a device on your pets’ collar, the pet door reads the chip and allows them to enter, but only your pets. This will keep out those pesky raccoons that try to come in and help themselves to your refrigerator.
Four RFID options
Previously, we discussed four RFID trackers and their advantages. Here’s a follow up on those four, plus a couple of new kids on the RFID block. These are all basic, but popular options to get your feet wet with the RFID technology:
StickNFind is one company offering these devices. The device is about the size of a quarter. It costs $25 and you can track anything you tag with a device via your smartphone. You can have up to twenty active stickers (devices) at a time. The smartphone application also allows users to trigger an alert if a sticker moves out of a specified range. This is called the “Virtual Leash” feature; users can set a distance range for each sticker, like I mentioned above.
Update: They now come in several different colors, including clear so that the sticker is hardly noticeable. They have also expanded out into indoor Bluetooth beacons, as well as enterprise type beacons.
ItemTrackr can track any Bluetooth device such as cars, headsets, low energy tags (like SticknFind) and much more. You can ring your lost Bluetooth device from the app. It will also record the GPS map and time you lost your item. This is especially helpful when you need to remember where you parked your car or left your keys. There is also something called, “separation alert:” if you are about to walk off without your Bluetooth device, the app will play a reminder so that you do not forget it.
Update: Trackr has sold over 4.5 million devices. Now, you can also press the Trackr tag if you’ve lost your phone and the Trackr will ring your phone and help you find it, even if it’s on silent. Trackr also offer Amazon Alexa integration allowing you to simply ask Alexa, “Ask Trackr to find my phone” and it will ring.
InRange by Phillips is another Bluetooth enabled leash system. For $49.95 receive the Bluetooth device, a pouch for the tag, batteries and a pin to release the battery door. Items are tracked via the iPhone/iPad app and can be paired with up to three InRange devices. This device also allows you to still make calls via Bluetooth without any interference.
Update: While it looks like Phillips still offers support for this device, it also looks as though they no longer sell it.
Bikn Bikn, it seems, has unfortunately terminated their RFID cases.
Newer options to satisfy your RFID needs:
Pixie: Just apply the first Pixie Point to the back of your iPhone and the other Points to your most important things to make them quickly discoverable within a 30-50 foot range indoors. Through the magical Pixie Dust Augmented Reality view and the Pixie Pointer distance and direction indicator, Pixie guides you to any item that’s been “Pixified”. It shows you what you can’t see, even if it’s between the books on the shelf, inside a drawer or in the next room. It’s basically “x” marks the spot for items you commonly misplace.
Tile: Tile offers two options for keeping track of your items: Tile Mate and Tile Slim. Tile Mate is compact and easy to attach to anything and goes wherever you go. Small, durable and lightweight, it’s perfect for attaching to keys, luggage, and backpacks. Tile Slim is the world’s thinnest Bluetooth tracker; it’s as thin as two credit cards making it easy to stick, slide, or tuck into tight spots like wallets, purses, passports and more. Both Tiles are water-resistant (to rain, not scuba diving), offer a loud melody when you’ve lost your item, and have batteries that last over a year without charging.
PebbleBee: PebbleBee offers three different choices for preventing lost items: The Finder, The Honey, and The Stone. The Finder is a stainless steel tracker (approx.. 1” in diameter) that can be attached to nearly anything. It also the longest range tracker ever at 200ft. and has a replaceable battery and improved longevity. The Honey is the most affordable option to keep your items from being misplaced. It has a range of up to 150 feet and includes a range finder with helps you find an item if it’s hidden. When you get close, you can turn on the loud speaker, or the built-in LED from your smartphone to find your item quickly. The Stone is a smart “button” that controls your phone and home to save you time. Stone works with IFTT, Nest, Hue, SmartThings, and many other “smart” platforms and it can also automate tasks. To learn more about everything Stone can do check it out on PebbleBee.
Not an exhaustive list
There are many other trackers available, but these are some of the most popular options to suit your needs.
This seems like something worth investing in if you have a hard time keeping up with your belongings, or travel extensively. Better to have it and never need it, than spend countless hours searching for a single item so you can get out the door.