Right now, I know my keys are in the Digital Trends office. I know this not only because they’re sitting right next to me on the desk, but because they’re attached to a Trackr device whose app (available for iOS and Android) shows me their location to essentially the nearest cross streets. So if a coworker accidentally mistook my keys for his and took them home, I could use the device’s crowd GPS feature to find them. So long as the disableable feature is turned on, every time they come near someone else who has the app on their cell phone, the Trackr will anonymously send a location update to the Trackr services.
That function is useful for stolen bikes but, as it turns out, is not something Trackr users are taking advantage of on a daily basis. “One of the interesting things we heard from users is crowd GPS is great, it’s nice, it’s peace of mind, but you don’t use it every day,” Trackr CEO Chris Herbert tells Digital Trends. “You’re using it mainly around the house, you’re using it to find your keys in the next room, you’re trying to stay organized.”
If I left my keys in the Digital Trends kitchen, I could send press a button in the app and the Trackr, which is a little bigger and thicker than a quarter, would start sending out an audible trill to help me locate them. But if I was all the way on the other side of the office trying to hear the sound over the din of a Nerf gun battle, that might not help much — unless I knew I should be starting in the kitchen.
And solving that problem is the idea behind Trackr Atlas, the company’s newest product, launching today on Indiegogo. It uses both Bluetooth Low Energy and Wi-Fi to keep track of all the Trackr-attached items in your home. You plug the round device into an outlet in every room, pair it with your Trackrs and phone, and it can then keep track of everything from your keys to your cat to your tennis racket. Each Atlas costs $39 on Indiegogo right now, or you can get a starter pack of four of the devices, plus two Trackrs, for $129.
Instead of constantly remembering your sports equipment is in the basement and not the hall closet, “What if we could move that database of items to computers and give the task of remembering where items are to your phone, just like our phone numbers?” says Herbert.
Once you set up the Atlases, you can make a basic floor plan in the app, and when you’re hunting for your pet, it will show you a pin saying she’s in the bedroom. If you go in there and still can’t find her, you can set off the audible tone, so you can find her under the bed. And because pulling out your phone to find an item is still a bit of a pain, it will also integrate with Amazon Echo (and eventually HomeKit and Google Now), so that you can ask Alexa to find the cat.
The Atlas will take up a plug in every room, and Herbert says it’s best to stick it in the hard-to-reach one behind the dresser or couch, because you shouldn’t be interacting much with that device at all. And if you get more than three Trackrs (one for your keys, wallet, and bag, for example), you can then add more for important items you only need a couple times a week or month, like a checkbook. Or your drone. “It’s a very simple product, but it’s a simple problem,” says Herbert.
Update 11/23/2015: After receiving some complaints about backers not receiving their Trackrs, we reached out to CEO Chris Herbert. Here’s his response: “We wholeheartedly apologize to unfulfilled backers for the delays and are doing everything in our power to get TrackR bravo into their hands as soon as possible. An avalanche of website orders stemming from our crowdfunding campaign has caused shipping delays which we are working hard to resolve. Today, we have shipped more than a quarter million TrackR bravo devices and have filled nearly every order from our crowdfunding campaign, save for a few that requested special engraving which takes extra time.
We are currently working to clear the backlog of orders from our website and are shipping thousands of devices every week – while another thousand orders come in – all completely bootstrapped. We are in the process of dramatically scaling our production and have increased the size of our customer support team to address the high consumer demand.”