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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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9 Comments

9 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

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Tech News

5 pending House bills that could break up Big Tech

(TECHNOLOGY) As Big Tech flails about with lobbying, legislators are forging ahead with bills to regulate their mere existence – can you name any of the five pending bills? If not, keep reading.

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The US House of Representatives has its sights set on Big Tech heavy hitters like Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple as it considers a group of five bills to tackle these giants in anti-monopoly legislation.

This has good sides and possible down sides. More competition in the market drives prices down. Amazon says if it has to separate out core functions it will make it harder on small businesses who rely on their platforms and could compromise free two-day shipping. It is impossible to predict what changes may or may not come to pass at this stage, but it is clear that change is inevitable. As a leaked document from Facebook in October of 2020 made clear, preparations have been underway for a while.

In late June 2021, the DC federal court threw out two antitrust suits against Facebook.

US District Court Judge James Boasberg needed the suits to answer two critical questions they couldn’t provide sufficient clarity on. What were the two asks the suits couldn’t meet? Define a social network– specific bounds and features outlining the market in consideration. Determine Facebook’s share in said market – the lawsuit cited 60+% percent, but the judge declared their arguments “vague,” which in this instance can be taken to mean insufficient to develop case law.

Also in June 2021, the House Judiciary Committee considered 5 bills and gained nigh unheard of bipartisan backing, outlined below.

You can sign up for updates for legislative actions on each of the bills directly from Congress.gov by clicking each of the headings.

1. Ending Platform Monopolies Act

  • Introduced in the House of Representatives on June 11th, 2021 by Representative Jayapal as House Bill 3825.
  • “To promote competition and economic opportunity in digital markets by eliminating the conflicts of interest that arise from dominant online platforms’ concurrent ownership or control of an online platform and certain other businesses.”
  • This bill would provide definitions for unlawful conflicts of interest, enforcement actions and limitations on board membership and other service by interested individuals.

2. American Choice and Innovation Online Act

  • Introduced in the House of Representatives on June 11th, 2021 by Representative Cicilline as House Bill 3816.
  • “To provide that certain discriminatory conduct by covered platforms shall be unlawful, and for other purposes.”
  • Does “and for other purposes” make your skin crawl a little? Don’t worry, the other section headers include Judicial Review (guidance for judges), Bureau of Digital Markets (creating an oversight entity), Enforcement Guidelines, and Suits By Persons Injured.

3. Platform Competition and Opportunity Act

  • Introduced in the House of Representatives on June 11th, 2021 by Representative Jeffries as House Bill 3826.
  • “To promote competition and economic opportunity in digital markets by establishing that certain acquisitions by dominant online platforms are unlawful.”
  • This bill would outline what constitutes an unlawful acquisition, provide guidance to judges, and define enforcement actions and procedures.

4. Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act

  • Not to be confused with its 2019 predecessor, this bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on June 11th, 2021 by Representative Scanlon as House Bill 3849.
  • “To promote competition, lower entry barriers, and reduce switching costs for consumers and businesses online.”
  • This bill would define what unfair method of competition means, look at portability and interoperability of services, and authorize the establishment of a technical committee to oversee the development and implementation of the Act’s policies.

5. Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act

  • Introduced in the Senate on February 4th, 2021 by Senator Klobuchar as Senate Bill 228.
  • “To promote antitrust enforcement and protect competition through adjusting premerger filing fees, and increasing antitrust enforcement resources.”
  • This bill make it more expensive for corporate mega-mergers to occur and provide funding to the Federal Trade Commission ($418m) and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice ($252m).

How these bills will evolve as they move through the legislature is anyone’s guess. Whether any of them will make it to the President’s desk at all is even questionable at this stage. Big Tech is imminently going to see changes in regulation and oversight, as these major players touch all of our lives in some facet or another.

I am going to be keeping a close eye on the progress of this legislation. We’ll keep you posted.

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The billionaire nerds’ space race is the launch of a new era

(TECHNOLOGY) As billionaires begin launching their own bodies into space, a new era of tourism is being born, and a plethora of ancillary industries will inevitably follow.

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“I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of stars make me DREAM.” – Vincent Van Gogh

For the entirety of the recorded history of mankind, we have dreamed of the stars. Some ancient cultures used them to tell stories, believing that the turning of time created more. Others developed complicated maps and time tables using their positioning. No matter who you are or where you come from, there is something about those twinkling points of light that strikes a sense of wonder at your heart. Whether it’s a twinkle in the eye or on the horizon, we can’t help but be enveloped by their essence.

Under all the hustle and bustle, a private race has been going on for the last two decades. A couple of billionaires with urgent aspirations have been racing towards one of the next biggest steps for human space travel. Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin both started within a few years of each other back around 2001. Since then, both companies and their founders have been pushing and striving for their goals.

Although culturally, most recognize Elon Musk’s SpaceX as the reigning royalty of private space exploration, after 16 years of research, Virgin Galactic recently reached the next milestone. Founder, Sir Richard Branson, is the first civilian on a commercial space flight – he declared, “We are at the vanguard of a new industry determined to pioneer twenty-first century spacecraft, which will open space to everybody – and change the world for good.”

Virgin Galactic launch: Sir Richard Branson becomes first billionaire in space

Sir Richard Branson made astronautical history on Sunday afternoon by becoming the first billionaire in space.The 70-year-old Virgin Galactic founder lifted …

Now personally, I see this as a severe over-simplification of the next steps for us but we can definitely see the beginning of a new industry taking shape. With both grace and expediency space travel – as tourism – is taking off. There are many possible avenues these companies to take. We can only sit back and watch currently as these titans continue to grow.

On the heels of Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin has just completed their own manned flight with their respective billionaire, Jeff Bezos. Who, in stroke of compassion, has invited the renowned Wally Funk to join him on their inaugural flight.

Blue Origin’s rocket launches to edge of space, carrying Jeff Bezos and crew

CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” team watches the liftoff of Blue Origin’s historic launch that is carrying Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his crew.

As we near this new era in travel we have many things to not only be thankful for but also to figure out. This long-awaited moment has now been experienced by the super-rich. Virgin Galactic’s prices were last reported at $250,000 per seat. Other reports for some companies put one of the seats for Blue Origins maiden flight $28 million. Enough money to be thrown around to cover so many things.

We all knew this was going to be expensive.

The price of advancing the human race was always going to be capitalism. Let’s see where the planet’s billionaires take us. Hopefully it’s better for us all as we continue to manifest our dreams amongst the stars.

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Tech News

How blockchain could dramatically improve democracies

(TECH) Blockchain is changing the face of democracy with a magical fix to basically all the problems.

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Despite our best intentions to be active, informed citizens in democratic practices, not everyone has time, figuring out how to be engaged can be confusing, and reps don’t always vote how you want. Plus, confidence in Congress is hilariously/depressingly low with all the scandals and thinly veiled corporate interests.

Well hooray for the future, because now we have blockchain technology to propel us out of the murky waters of representative democracy and into a more efficient liquid democracy.

A liquid democracy platform, also referred to as delegative democracy, has voters select a personal representative as a proxy for their vote. In our current set up, elected representatives vote for things on your behalf, and the best you can do other than running for office yourself is call in and ask them to vote your way.

With a liquid democracy, everyone votes on each piece of legislation.

You can assign a delegate to vote on your behalf by proxy when you’re not available. Personal representatives can be removed and reassigned at any time unlike set terms for elected officials.

The delegate can even select a proxy for their votes, creating a directed network graph, where voters and politicians are connected on a publicly verified blockchain. Anyone can be selected as a delegate as long as they’re a legal resident of your jurisdiction registered to vote.

Quick refresher course: Blockchain is essentially a decentralized digital list of records with timestamps and transaction data information. Each individual record is considered a block, which is cryptographically secured and resistant to modification.

Blocks contain a cryptographic hash of the previous block, creating a chain. Once recorded, data cannot be altered without network majority consent. As an open, peer-to-peer distributed ledger, blockchain is a permanent and efficient way to record transactions.

Used by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 for cryptocurrency exchange to create Bitcoin, blockchain has now expanded to the healthcare industry, banking, and now potentially democratic practices.

David Ernst, one of the leaders of the liquid democracy movement, founded United.vote, a platform established to get the ball rolling. The site helps connect voters to personal representatives, and provides a scorecard that tracks how elected politicians’ votes compare to constituents wishes.

“What if instead centralizing authority into the hands of a few strong men, we expanded political power to many, many more voices,” Ernst suggested at the 2017 CyFy conference.

His plan to expand power is liquid democracy via the United.vote platform, which he notes is backwards-compatible with our current system. Ernst is also running as an independent candidate for California Assembly District 19.

He was partially inspired by the Flux Party’s 2016 campaign in Australia, who tried to implement an issue-based direct democracy similar to liquid democracy. Although the party only got 0.15 percent of the vote nationwide, Ernst stands by the idea.

A liquid democracy via blockchain would theoretically increase accountability, participation, and representation.

Through direct participation and personal representation, elections would no longer be necessary.

Instead, voters simply choose someone to represent them, and can select a different person for individual issues. Delegation can be changed at any time, so you’re not stuck with someone if they end up being a total weasel.

So far, only a little over one thousand people have signed up for United.vote, but Ernst stated, “If I got elected, but only 20 people were actually using [the platform], I would still follow those people.”

Although the concept may be ahead of its time (and possibly a wishful Utopian dream), Ernst is confident that these changes can fix democracy.

This editorial was first published here in February 2018.

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