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Track any device with RFID tags: phones, bags, tablets

Keeps tabs on your vital professional devices with RFID enabled devices, whether you travel or not and even if you’re not forgetful – you never know what can happen to your beloved iPhone, laptop or leather briefcase.

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What is all of this RFID talk about?

A RFID (Radio Frequency Identifier) is a small device used for tracking or identification. A typical tag consists of a chip, memory and antenna. Most new RFID tags utilize Bluetooth technology.

Why do you need RFID?

How many times have you misplaced something? Something like your keys, phone, tablet, wallet, or remote; if you are anything like me, at least a few times. If you place an RFID tag on these items, you can track them. There are several companies that offer tags that work along with smartphone apps to track your things. This is especially useful for business professionals always on the go.

You can tag your phone, briefcase, laptop, and even your luggage and your smartphone will alert you when the item is out of a set range (say 100 feet) and when it returns. RFID devices are even used with pet doors. If you place a device on your pets’ collar, the pet door reads the chip and allows them to enter, but only your pets. This will keep out those pesky raccoons that try to come in and help themselves to your refrigerator.

Four RFID options:

There are several companies that offer RFID devices; the following four can get you started as you find the option best for you:

StickNFind is one company offering these devices. The device is about the size of a quarter. It costs $25. And you can track anything you tag with a device via your smartphone. You can have up to twenty active stickers (devices) at a time. The smartphone application also allows users to trigger an alert if a sticker moves out of a specified range. This is called the “Virtual Leash” feature; users can set a distance range for each sticker. So, if you want to keep your pets or children within a certain range while they are outside, you can place a sticker on them and the phone will alert you if they go outside that range.

Bikn (“Beacon”) is another company offering a “lost and found” system. For $59.99 you get an iPhone case and tag. The tag can attach to your keys, your pet, your backpack, anything you want, really. And the best part is that your iPhone will find your tagged item, but the tagged item can also find your iPhone, even if it is dead or turned off. Currently Bikn only works for iPhone and you will have to remove any other cases you have (Otterbox, Armor, etc.) so the Bikn case can be in contact with your phone. But, if you are prone to losing things, this could be worth it.

ItemTrackr can track any Bluetooth device such as cars, headsets, low energy tags (like SticknFind) and much more. You can ring your lost Bluetooth device from the app. It will also record the GPS map and time you lost your item. This is especially helpful when you need to remember where you parked your car or left your keys. There is also something called, “separation alert”: if you are about to walk off without your Bluetooth device, the app will play a reminder so that you do not forget it.

InRange by Phillips is another Bluetooth enabled leash system. For $49.95 you get a similar system to Bikn’s. You will receive the Bluetooth device, a pouch for the tag, batteries and a pin to release the battery door. Items are tracked via the iPhone/iPad app and can be paired with up to three InRange devices. This device also allows you to still make calls via Bluetooth without any interference.

There are many other options available to suit your needs. All of them serve the same basic function: to track your possessions and help you insure they do not get lost. This seems like something worth investing in if you have a hard time keeping up with your belongings, or travel extensively.

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Tinu

    June 25, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    #frustration – I had this idea a few years ago. At least someone is doing it, and I’ll be able to find my stuff again. *walks off bitterly*

  2. JonaD

    July 2, 2013 at 2:10 am

    Yeah, people will be able to find their stuff… and ‘I’ will be able to find your stuff and YOU too. RFIDs are EASY to hack. Also because their antenna are inductively coupled… I can find out more! I can discover if other people are between my sensor and an RFID device, I can uncover other things too… like if there is a chunk of metal close to your device and so it could act as a roving detector to identify where someone is wearing a gun. Think of these as old fashioned ‘ theremins’, and imagine… your life playing to the world as creepy sci-fi music, that anyone can investigate you with. Lovely.

  3. Guest

    July 2, 2013 at 2:13 am

    Yeah, people will be able to find their stuff… and ‘I’ will be able to find your stuff and YOU too. RFIDs are EASY to hack. Also because their antenna are inductively coupled… I can find out more! I can discover if other people are between my sensor and an RFID device, I can uncover other things too… like if there is a chunk of metal close to your device and so it could act as a roving detector to identify where someone is wearing a gun. Think of these as old fashioned THERAMINS, and imagine… your life playing creepy sci-fi music that people can investigate you with. Lovely.

  4. John Andry

    May 30, 2015 at 11:41 am

    You can Track Most of things with RFID Tags! Radio Frequency Identification devices are mostly used for the purpose of tracking. Giant companies and offices use this device to easily get access to their products. The devices are also used in many other cases like that of people tracking. The components that an RFID device consists are:
    RFID Microchip/ Tag: This microchip has an antenna through which it transmits information that it consists or that is fed in it by a programmer.
    RFID Reader: The information that the microchip transmits by the help of its antenna is being read by a reader.
    RFID Middleware: It is software that resides in between the software of enterprise and RFID interrogators.
    RFID Software: The information which the reader reads is then converted into digital form which can be used by software system for processing. Thank you!!

  5. jamyy

    July 22, 2015 at 4:22 am

    RFID is very useful tracking chips, by using those tracking chips you can track many things also saves lots of time.

  6. danny

    November 7, 2015 at 10:27 am

    Does any one know if any of these devices use passive RFID chips?

    • Guest

      December 8, 2015 at 3:54 am

      RFID tags can be passive, but you will need an active RFID reader. At the moment this reader will be a bulky device and is not available as a small and affordable add-on to your phone (dec 2015). To overcome this problem and keep the tags small, you can use an active RFID scanner/reader (e.g. built into your bag) that communicates with your phone via Bluetooth/GPS/WiFi
      Btw: All the devices in this article do not use RFID, but active Bluetooth tags. Bikn uses active Wifi tags.

      • Guest

        December 8, 2015 at 4:05 am

        One adjustment to my earlier comment: RFID tags can be passive, but you will need an active RFID reader. At the moment this reader will be a bulky device and is not available as a small and affordable add-on to your phone (dec 2015) >> This is if you want to read tags over a distance more then 8 cm. Otherwise you can use the NFC reader function of most new phones

  7. Pingback: RFID technology's resurgence and why you need it - The Real Daily

  8. Pingback: Get Your Tech Travel Ready | Y-Not – Lethbridge Computer Repair

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Tech News

Facebook deletes developer over ironic browser extension invention

(TECHNOLOGY) Think a muted week for a nipple shadow is bad? Facebook just permabanned this inventor for…helping others to use the platform less.

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African American hand holding iphone on Facebook's login page.

It must be true that corporations are people because Facebook is pulling some seriously petulant moves.

In a stunt that goes beyond 24hr bans for harmless hyperbole, and chopping away at organic reach (still bitter from my stint in social media management), Facebook straight up permanently banned one of their users for the high crime of…aiming to get people to use the platform a little less.

Developer Louis Barclay came up with Unfollow Everything, an extension that basically instantly deleted your feed without having you unfriend anyone or unlike anything. Rather than have users manually go through and opt out of seeing posts, they’d now opt IN to keeping who they wanted front and center.

In his own words on Slate: “I still remember the feeling of unfollowing everything for the first time. It was near-miraculous. I had lost nothing, since I could still see my favorite friends and groups by going to them directly. But I had gained a staggering amount of control. I was no longer tempted to scroll down an infinite feed of content. The time I spent on Facebook decreased dramatically. Overnight, my Facebook addiction became manageable.”

Since more time spent on Facebook means more ads that you’re exposed to, means more you spend, the add-on started slowly making headway. I myself pretend to be a ranch owner to keep ads as irrelevant to me as possible (though my new addiction to hoof trimming videos is all too real), and Unfollow Everything probably would have been a great find for me if it hadn’t been killed by a cease and desist.

Law firm Perkins Coie, representing the internet giant, let Barclay know in their notice that Unfollow Everything violated the site’s rules on automated collection of user content, and was muscling in on Facebook trademarked IP.

They also added, in what I can only assume was a grade-school narc voice, that the add-on was “encouraging others to break Facebook’s rules.”

Barclay, not having the resources to fight a company with the finances of a small country, promptly ceased and desisted. Practical.

Officially speaking, Facebook might have actually have some ground to stand on vis-à-vis its Terms Of Service. The letter and legal team may have been warranted, not that we’ll ever truly know, since who’s taking Facebook to court? But then they followed up with a ‘neener neener’ deletion of Barclay’s 15 year old account – which was still very much in use.

Look, Facebook is the only way I connect with some of my friends. I don’t take enough pictures to make full use of Instagram, I fully hate Twitter, my Tumblr is inundated with R-rated fanfiction, and any other social media platform I’m happy to admit I’m too haggish and calcified to learn to use. So a complete WIPE of everything there with no notice would be pretty devastating to me. I can only imagine how Barclay felt.

And in light of the fact that the browser extension wasn’t hurting anyone, taking money, or spewing hateful rhetoric, there’s really only one thing to say about Facebook’s actions…they’re petty.

Sure, they may have the legal right to do what they did. It’s just that when you notice every fifth post is an unvetted advertisement, their high ground starts to sink a little. I mean nothing says ‘We’re being totally responsible with user information’ like the number of add ons and user tactics popping up to avoid seeing the unnecessary. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Facebook put up a fight against losing ad traffic.

We all know all those stores with amazing deals aren’t actually going out of business, or even using their own photos right? Right?

Barclay added in his article, “Facebook’s behavior isn’t just anti-competitive; it’s anti-consumer. We are being locked into platforms by virtue of their undeniable usefulness, and then prevented from making legitimate choices over how we use them—not just through the squashing of tools like Unfollow Everything, but through the highly manipulative designs and features platforms adopt in the first place. The loser here is the user, and the cost is counted in billions of wasted hours spent on Facebook.”

Agreed, Mr. Barclay.

Now I’m off to refresh my feed. Again.

 

Graffiti wall with image of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, with the saying "You've been Zucked."

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Tech News

Glowbom: Create a website, using just your voice

(TECH NEWS) Talk about futuristic! This app allows you to create quizzes, surveys, an online store, and even a website in minutes–without typing.

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Colleagues looking at Glowbom website homepage

In the past, we’ve discussed things like simplified coding and no-code app creation. Now, a San Francisco startup has taken the process a step further with no-type app creation.

Glowbom is a voice app that allows you to dictate steps to an AI – from adding information all the way to exporting code–in order to create a simple app, survey, or game. While the built-in options for now are limited to four simple categories, the power of the app itself is impressive: By asking the Glowbom AI to complete tasks, one is able to dictate an entire (if small) program.

It’s an impressive idea, and an even more impressive product. Glowbom founder and CEO Jacob Ilin showcases the power of Glowbom in a short demonstration video, and while he only uses it to create a simple survey, the entire process–up to and including the exportation of the API–is accomplished via voice commands.

Furthermore, Glowbom appears to process natural inputs–such as phrases like “Let’s get started”–in the context of an actual command rather than the colloquial disconnect one tends to expect in AI. This means that users won’t need to read a 700-page manual on phrases and buzzwords to use before jumping on board–something the Glowbom user base was probably hoping to avoid anyway.

As of now, the options one can use Glowbom to create include a quiz, a survey, an online store, and a website. It seems reasonable to expect that, as support for the app grows, those categories will expand to comprise a larger library.

Glowbom certainly opens a few doors for people looking to take their businesses or ideas from an offline medium into the digital marketplace. As coding becomes less centralized in computer language and more contingent on processes such as this, we can expect to see more products from folks who may have missed the coding boat.

Perhaps more importantly, Glowbom and products like it make coding more accessible to a wider base of disabled users, thus taking a notable step toward evening the playing field for a marginalized demographic. It’s not true equality, but it’s a start.

This story was first published here in October 2020.

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4 ways startups prove their investment in upcoming technology trends

(TECH NEWS) Want to see into the future? Just take a look at what technology the tech field is exploring and investing in today — that’s the stuff that will make up the world of tomorrow.

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Woman testing VR technology

Big companies scout like for small ones that have proven ideas and prototypes, rather than take the initial risk on themselves. So startups have to stay ahead of technology by their very nature, in order to be stand-out candidates when selling their ideas to investors.

Innovation Leader, in partnership with KPMG LLP, recently conducted a study that sheds light onto the bleeding edge of tech: The technologies that the biggest companies are most interested in building right now.

The study asked its respondents to group 16 technologies into four categorical buckets, which Innovation Leader CEO Scott Kirsner refers to as “commitment level.”

The highest commitment level, “in-market or accelerating investment,” basically means that technology is already mainstream. For optimum tech-clairvoyance, keep your eyes on the technologies which land in the middle of the ranking.

“Investing or piloting” represents the second-highest commitment level – that means they have offerings that are approaching market-readiness.

The standout in this category is Advanced Analytics. That’s a pretty vague title, but it generally refers to the automated interpretation and prediction on data sets, and has overlap with Machine learning.

Wearables, on the other hand, are self explanatory. From smart watches to location trackers for children, these devices often pick up on input from the body, such heart rate.

The “Internet of Things” is finding new and improved ways to embed sensor and network capabilities into objects within the home, the workplace, and the world at large. (Hopefully that doesn’t mean anyone’s out there trying to reinvent Juicero, though.)

Collaboration tools and cloud computing also land on this list. That’s no shock, given the continuous pandemic.

The next tier is “learning and exploring”— that represents lower commitment, but a high level of curiosity. These technologies will take a longer time to become common, but only because they have an abundance of unexplored potential.

Blockchain was the highest ranked under this category. Not surprising, considering it’s the OG of making people go “wait, what?”

Augmented & virtual reality has been hyped up particularly hard recently and is in high demand (again, due to the pandemic forcing us to seek new ways to interact without human contact.)

And notably, AI & machine learning appears on rankings for both second and third commitment levels, indicating it’s possibly in transition between these categories.

The lowest level is “not exploring or investing,” which represents little to no interest.

Quantum computing is the standout selection for this category of technology. But there’s reason to believe that it, too, is just waiting for the right breakthroughs to happen.

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