A bit taller and thicker than a quarter, the new $29 aluminum TrackR is meant to be stuck on your keys, in your wallet or on your dog’s collar so you can track it via map in a corresponding iOS and Android app. The Bravo also comes with adhesive stickers, so you can even attach it to things like the remote that always gets stuck under the couch or between the cushions.
Once you’ve got it on your object of choice, the app lets you choose from a list of preset options for what it could be, then registers the object in TrackR’s “Crowd GPS” database. Crowd GPS is TrackR’s solution for getting around the fact that it’s essentially impossible to cram a GPS into a device this size and get the months of battery you can squeeze out of Bluetooth LE.
Instead of spending more power to deal with the rare occasion that you lose your Bravo after your phone dies, TrackR has made it so that other phones running its app can see devices from the Crowd GPS list and ping you with the latest location. It’s a clever solution, but requires the company to pick up a lot more traction before you can feel confident that your device will be discovered.
I personally found the TrackR most useful right inside my apartment, which is currently in a state of organized chaos. Everything looks like a mess, but it’s all in the right place. The problem with this mode of organization is that eventually you forget which bin holds that backup pair of headphones. With the TrackR stuck to them, I could simply swipe over to the headphone item, give it a tap, and hear the Bravo give out a sharp alert. In the case that you misplace your phone but not your keys, you can also press the Bravo to set off an alert from your iPhone.
The range you can get on the TrackR Bravo is about what you’d expect from a device relying on Bluetooth LE. Depending on what structures are between your phone and the radio, you can expect to maintain communication between devices from 25 to 40 feet away.
The TrackR Bravo isn’t alone in the Bluetooth tracker space, with options like Tile offering similar functionality in the same general price range. If you’re one for aesthetics, I give points to the Bravo for its clean aluminum look, though it can get beat up when attached to keys.
Most tracker manufacturers give deep discounts when ordering several (and you’re probably going to need to register several devices before thinking to check it is second-nature), so if the idea appeals to you it’s best to jump in by getting enough to track most of your smaller valuables.
The future is now known to be a place where you never lose anything – except the device that controls the gadgets that let you find everything else. The stories of iPhone users using Apple’s location features to track down and retrieve their stolen property may be hair-raising, but they’re going to get more common as gadgets like this become more common. The TrackR Bravo promises to reunite owners of pets, bags and wallets, and at $29 it’s likely to make it onto a lot of Christmas lists. Trackers like it are certainly here to stay.