Samsung’s SmartThings Find sniffs out lost Galaxy devices using AR heat maps

Lost doesn’t mean never to be found again, thanks to Samsung’s new SmartThings Find feature. This expanded, more accurate device-location service uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Ultra Wideband (UWB) wireless communication technology to build an augmented reality-based heat map to sniff out missing devices. SmartThings is Samsung’s smart home platform, and the Find feature joins Samsung’s existing Find My Mobile service as essential tools for the more forgetful gadget fan.

SmartThings Find will help locate a variety of Galaxy devices, including your Note 20 Ultra, Galaxy Buds Live true wireless headphones — individually or as a pair — and Galaxy Watch 3. The basic “ring my device” feature is there, giving you an audible clue as to the missing device’s whereabouts. You can also report things missing inside the SmartThings Find app. Locations show up on a map, as you’d expect, using data that’s kept private.

So far, so normal. However, things get really clever if you’re searching for a UWB-equipped product, like the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra or Galaxy Z Fold 2. Searching for these enables an augmented reality Search Nearby feature that operates using a heat map. Think of it as the AR-driven equivalent of someone saying “warmer, warmer” as you get closer to the correct location.

Devices not equipped with UWB but with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) are also easier to find. BLE products give off a signal recognizable by SmartThings Find that comes into action 30 minutes after the device has been offline for 30 minutes, so you don’t have to worry about the device disconnecting itself from a network or controlling device and becoming untraceable.

Location tags for more products next year

Next year, Samsung plans to expand the SmartThings Find service to include support for tracking tags, so it can locate non-Galaxy devices and other items. Although not explicitly stated, this is likely refers to the current SmartThings Tracker, which uses an LTE signal to track whatever it’s attached to, or an evolution of that product.

SmartThings Find joins Apple’s Find My Mobile service and Google’s Find My Device, both of which work in similar ways, but without the new UWB-enhanced features. Samsung talked up the arrival of UWB with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, but didn’t really offer any specific uses at the time, so it’s great to see it finally in operation. Apple has also built UWB into the iPhone 11 series, iPhone 12 series, and even the HomePod Mini through the U1 chip, and is also rumored to be launching its own tracking tags at some point in the future. SmartThings Find gives us a clue as to how a future UWB system from Apple may operate.

SmartThings Find is available now in the U.S., the U.K., and South Korea,through an update for the SmartThings app. While UWB is an obvious advantage, it’s not an essential feature for SmartThings Find to work, so don’t worry if you don’t own one of the two devices with the technology. The BLE feature works with all Galaxy mobile hardware running Android 8 or later, smartwatches with Tizen 5.5 or later, the Galaxy Buds Plus, and the Galaxy Buds Live.

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