New device helps users keep track of belongings and loved ones

February 25, 2013

NEW YORK, Feb 25 — A tiny anodised aluminium key-ring alarm can be used to track down a missing iPhone or to ensure that a bag or even a child doesn’t stray beyond a designated area.

The hipKey is one of a number of devices designed to help owners keep track of their belongings that has appeared on the market in recent months. Connecting to an iPhone or iPad via Bluetooth 4.0, it features four specific modes for different situations, each of which can be selected and modified via an app.

The hipKey is designed to help owners keep track of their belongings. The hipKey is designed to help owners keep track of their belongings. In alarm mode, owners place the hipKey in their pocket so that if they travel more than a predefined distance from their smartphone or tablet, an alarm sounds, making sure that it is never forgotten when leaving a café or a bar for example. 

Child mode, as the name suggests, is a setting that ensures owners’ children are always within safe distance. Slip the hipKey in their pockets and an alarm will sound on the connected smartphone or tablet when the child moves beyond the pre-defined range, whether two metres or 50m. 

In motion mode, it can be dropped into a bag or other luggage and the alarm will sound if the hipKey’s built-in motion sensor is tripped by someone trying to take said bag. Meanwhile in “find me” mode, a button on the hipKey can be pressed if the owner has misplaced their phone somewhere in their home. 

However, the most impressive thing about the gadget is its size. It measures a mere 50mm in diameter and is only 7mm thick. Available from the Apple store, it is priced at £69.95 (RM340) (UK) and €84.95 (RM340) (rest of Europe) and is compatible with iPhones and iPads.

As such it joins an emerging market of devices that take advantage of Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity to form a constant link with a smartphone or tablet without denting battery life. 

At this year’s CES, one of the most interesting gadgets was the VIVOplay which looks like a watch and is worn like a watch but is actually a GPS tracker and limited-use smartphone ailed at parents with young children. It can be programmed with up to five different phone numbers that a child can call by pressing a single button and it can also be configured, via a smartphone app, to receive incoming calls and text messages from a list of parental approved contacts.

Combining GPS, WiFi and GSM technologies, the VIVOplay also gives parents the precise location of their child at any one time. Available in a range of colours, it is also water resistant and although some parents may find the idea of essentially tagging their children more than a little uncomfortable, the device does offer a valid alternative to giving a child, particularly one younger than 12, their own mobile phone, a decision that comes with its own potential concerns such as cyber bullying, unsolicited approaches or, more commonly, huge monthly bills.

Meanwhile, the Trakdot, which also debuted at this year’s CES, is designed to make lost luggage at airport terminals and train stations a thing of the past. Though about the same size as a deck of cards and requiring two batteries, it can be placed inside any bag or suitcase and can be tracked in real time via a smartphone or tablet pretty much anywhere in the world. — AFP-Relaxnews