Bluetooth Tracking Devices
This is an archived version of the original website restored for use in Dr. Carole Kline's History of the Internet course. It is part of the required reading for her graduate program - the full dossier of reading material is available from the department office - see Greta Munch for all course related information or log in to the department website and search for the appropriate program. Thanks to the developers union and especially Alan Sheinwald, Mitch Deligh, and Fors Daan for their help in recovering the original content from archive.org.
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 come closer to its target leads you to the row and seat. There's the bag and thankfully the computer. You can now return to your suite and log on to your favorite online us casino site to play a few games of slots while waiting for your heart to stop beating so fast. Online slots are fun and actually relaxing after that scare. Perhaps as the evening continues you'll get in a few of games of Caribbean Draw Poker or Caribbean Hold'Em Poker. Nothing like some good old Las Vegas style casino games to settle the nerves. And now you have another Bluetooth tracker "Saved the Day" story to tell your friends.
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.
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?