Bluetooth Tracking Devices

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What Are Bluetooth Trackers and How Do They Work?

Bluetooth trackers are a relatively new product in the electronics marketplace. Many folks are all ready familiar with Bluetooth technology that is used for Bluetooth headsets, speakers, and computer peripherals.  The manufacturers of the new, tiny Bluetooth tracking devices have developed “trackers’ that can survive up to a year without a battery recharge or swap. The tracker tags can be attached to such important items as keys, purse, wallet, or inserted into gear containers, instrument cases, or other objects.  The tags are then linked to a smartphone (paired with the appropriate software from the tracker vendor) via BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) forming a radio-based link between the phone and the item. 

Note that Bluetooth tracking devices are not GPS devices.  Until the battery to the GPS tracker dies, a GPS device tucked into a pricey item such as a camera bag would allow the item to be tracked wherever it is, in real time. Some pricey GPS devices include both geospatial tracking via the GPS satellite system as well as a modest cellular radio so that it can notify the manufacturer via telephone as to where the item is located.

On the other hand, a Bluetooth tag cannot track an item in real time to geo-locate it. The tag will only tell where the last place it had access to the tracking tag. The Bluetooth tracker and its companion app are proximity-based technology, which is different from GPS tracking technology.

So for instance, you were on a business trip and returned to your suite after a long day of conferences, only to find you had left your computer bag with computer at the last conference you attended. Don't panic too much. Return to the conference hall and pull out your smart phone. Scan the conference hall and listen for the trackers bleeps. Ah, there you go. The case and hopefully the computer are somewhere in the hall. Following the beeps, which grow louder the closer you are, you finally spot the computer and case. Just where you had left it. And now you have another Bluetooth tracker "Saved the Day" story to tell your friends.

And now for another story that may seem a bit off the beaten track, but just be patient and you will see the connection. The other day I was telling my business partner about the above story about the lost computer. We were in a cab stuck in traffic on our way to a potential client who needed some help in implementing Salesforce. The owner of the company thought he had the chops to setup all the great features Salesforce has to offer. But he quickly realized (or perhaps it wasn't so quickly) that he was way in over his head when it came to utilizing the incredible Salesforce Community Cloud drives that would allow his business to engage with customers, partners, referral sources and any other constituents. Likewise when it came to connecting the Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, and Community Cloud data of his business, well let's just say he needed the experts. We knew we were the right team to help him and his business. We just had to convince this business owner. Update: Our pitch was sucessful just as the Bluetooth tracker was for my misplaced computer story.

Is A Bluetooth Tracker For Me?

A Bluetooth tracker is a high tech, but practical solution to lost-object woes, such as misplacing eyeglasses, keys, or locating your luggage at baggage clainm, etc.  Most of the different types of Bluetooth tags make a noise to help locate a missing object when you’re close to it. Do not consider them a good substitute for the much more expensive and expansive real-time tracking offered by a GPS unit.

Bluetooth Tracker Features

Not everyone will want or need all Bluetooth features. Because there are many different types of Bluetooth trackers available, it is better to know what features you don’t need than to make an uninformed purchase.

Bluetooth Batteries

With their batteries generally lasting about a year, Bluetooth trackers cost between $20-50. If you can’t recharge or replace the battery of your Bluetooth tracker model, you will have to buy a new one every year. So the first questions to ask before purchasing are: Can you replace your Bluetooth tracker battery and / or can you recharge it?

How Loud Is the Alarm?

If the Bluetooth tracker’s volume from its little speakers is too low, what’s the point of its chirping or beeping to help you locate the lost item?  You really want a loud chirp or sound when you’re right on top of the lost object, but still can’t see it.

What is the Range of the Bluetooth Tracker?

Supposedly Bluetooth devices can be optimized for 200 feet and beyond. However, radio signals, the limitations of crafting a tiny transmitter, and environmental variables have a significant impact on the trackers effectiveness. Some reviewers of the trackers advise that consumers should assume 50-70 percent of the range advertised by the manufacturer. Notice that some manufacturers will say: ” Works Up to 100' Away (Line of Sight) “

Does the Bluetooth Tracker Software Support Geo-Fencing?

The term geo-fencing, proximity alerts, or leashing capabilities refer to the Bluetooth trackers ability to alert you when you’re a certain distance away from your tagged item. If you want to be “alerted,” either when you get too far from your secured object or when it gets too far from you, you must look for a Bluetooth tracker with software that supports geo-fencing.

Other Bluetooth Tracker Functions

Most Bluetooth tracking devices offer one feature, however as the marketplace for these nifty devices expands the newer models will other features. For instance the ANKR App on ANKR Bluetooth tracking devices has grown to include the ability to add functionality such as real-time monitoring of the direction of movement, vibration, temperature, and humidity of fixed high-value assets and high-value portable. Other brands also have their proprietary apps that permit customization of their tracker devices.  Some Bluetooth tracker apps even allow you to track multiple tags at the same time, so you can make sure all your important items are safe. Other Bluetooth trackers have a button on the tag that can be pressed and held to reverse the whole location process allowing the person to locate by-ear process one’s lost smartphone.

Bluetooth Tracker Compatibility

Some Bluetooth tracking devices are compatible with only iOS devices. Others are iOS or Android smartphone compatible. Check to make sure your smart phone will work with the tracker you want to buy.

The potential for such simple and low-power devices as the Bluetooth tracker is growing. What will they be capable of doing in the next five years; the next ten years?