Why you should care
This device may mean never losing anything again — even your kids.
Losing things sucks. Especially when you aren’t the one who lost them. Suitcases. Keys. Kids. Yes, if you thought the anxiety you feel upon misplacing your car keys was hard to take, try not knowing where your kids are.
This feeling of anxiety isn’t lost on Roman Isakov, founder of iTraq Inc. His company is putting the final touches on its eponymous iTraq — a slender, credit card-shaped tracking device that you can attach to (or conceal within) almost anything or anyone. Which allows you to do things like find your car keys or AWOL luggage and check that your child made it to school. The iTraq uses GSM cellular towers to both triangulate its location and communicate that location back to its owner. “Cell ID triangulation is not new,” Isakov notes, “but we are the first ones to use it [in a tracker].”
There’s been an explosion of trackers on the market. Most of them, like the Tile and the Trackr, use Bluetooth technology and a community of users armed with smartphones and proprietary apps — but you need to be within the maximum 100-foot range or you won’t find your precious belongings. Others use GPS plus cellular, which gives them impressive accuracy but drains batteries and ups data charges.
Here’s what makes iTraq different. It comes with its own preinstalled SIM card and uses cellular, not GPS or Bluetooth, and no carrier accounts or nearby iTraq users are required. And the battery lasts for about three years, or around 1,500 connections. An iTraq can be located anywhere in the world, as long as it can detect a GSM signal. The free mobile app lets you locate the iTraq and tell it how often you want it to report its location (warning: the more frequent, the shorter the battery life), like tracking your stuff in a moving van as it travels across the country. You can also set an alarm that will go off if the iTraq leaves a specified perimeter — say, if your bike starts moving without you on it.
Set an alarm that will go off if the iTraq leaves a specified perimeter — say, if your bike starts moving without you on it.
But cellular is not as accurate as GPS; some are skeptical of its use as a location technology. “Without more precise data from a more precise technology, actually recovering anything becomes much more challenging than it needs to be,” explains Carmi Levy, an independent technology analyst in London, Ontario. His concern: An accuracy of 100 feet might not be good enough to locate a missing purse or laptop, particularly in a densely populated urban environment. And in our ever-connected world, data security could also be a worry. Levy flags that “the consequences would be severe if this real-time information fell into the wrong hands.” Isakov says that no actual data are stored aboard the iTraq itself; all information it transmits back to its secure Amazon-hosted servers is encrypted.
If the idea of closely monitoring the location of your stuff (or a loved one … a child, a spouse?) appeals, the iTraq is available for the preorder price of $49 (or 10 devices for $370), with an expected delivery of late July or early August.