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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

With reward comes risk: facial recognition and privacy

(TECH NEWS) Facial recognition and artificial intelligence are awesome rewards from technical innovation but with reward comes risk.

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Technology is an omnipresent force in all of our lives. It is the core of innovation, providing us with quick, new ways to research, socialize and entertain ourselves. It seems like everyone is taking advantage of rapidly changing technology.

However what one person thinks as a reward of new systems may actually be a risk to someone else.

Take for instance, facial recognition software. Facebook uses it to identify familiar faces in photos and Apple uses it to unlock phones. It’s everywhere.

Even the porn industry is getting in on it. PornHub, a major online source for adult content, announced their new plan to use AI to help categorize the 10,000 plus videos that are uploaded every day.

Prior to this update, the site used a system of tagging videos to keep them organized. I would go into examples of such categories, but I’ll leave that up to the imagination.

One non-explicit example is organizing content based on the names of the stars of the film. Both the site itself and users had the ability to add tags to videos.

Regardless, this was not fast enough. By integrating AI software, PornHub hopes to expedite this process.

While this may sound like a smart business decision, this seems like high risk beginning to inadvertently diminish privacy rights.

Many people in the porn industry have alternate personas to separate their work and personal lives. Facial recognition software may pull from sources from both sides of that spectrum and end up merging the two.

This has already been the case on Facebook via the recommendations the site makes for “people you may know” via your internet practices.

However, it’s not just a matter of protecting the identity for a professional or amateur porn actor, it’s also about the privacy of clients.

Imagine being recommended to friend the star of the last video you streamed. This industry in particular, requires a level of discretion.

To combat some of the fears, PornHub has insists that the AI software only tags from the 10,000 stars in their database. Though as this update has proven, they could expand their database to keep up with the demand in the future.

It’s a technological advantage for their organization, but at what cost to others’ privacy?

This story was first published in 2016.

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Tech News

Retailers’ creepy tech hacks to get people to spend more

(TECH NEWS) Tech hacks or Jedi mind tricks? How retailers are getting sneaky about collecting your data, and how you can prevent it.

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Did you even know there are (creepy) ways retailers get all up in your private data to encourage people to spend?

Here at AG, we can’t help but think about how companies collect and employ data, and how they’re allowed to collect and employ said data, and well, let’s just say the fact that the Venn diagram on that one ain’t exactly a circle, it is serious business.

That being the case, here are five changes to your spending habits that can both increase benefit to you, and keep the serious creepsters out of your digital biz.

Your phone:

Retailers are known to pull information straight from your smartphone.

Obviously as long as you’re paying with plastic your retailer can track your transactions based on your phone number, but – The More You Know – it’s also perfectly legal for them to track your actual physical movements as soon as you plug into their in-house WiFi.

By itself that’s not much more than store staff and cameras (we’ll get to the latter) would be doing anyway, but store-level data security is comparable to private data security, and as we’ve written over on the Real Daily, private data security is more than a bit effed.

The fix:

Not to state the obvious, but stay off the WiFi.

This is why *Insert Deity Here* gave us Airplane Mode. Even if you feel the need to text while you shop or Instagram some hilaaaarious filters onto a nearby mannequin, as long as you get your bars from your mobile connection instead of the local WiFi, you should be able to do so without uninvited segments of the store or internet staring at you.

CCTV:

On the subject of being stared at, closed-circuit cameras are incredibly loosely regulated.

Seriously, the intended function of a security camera sits at the intersection of fighting crime and keeping-other-people’s-filthy-hands-off-your-stuff.

Those are literally America’s two favorite things. They certainly trump (see what I did there?) minor concerns like having your every move recorded by a piece of hardware that’s almost certainly connected to the Internet, because everything is, and whose password is probably “password.”

The fix:

I’m afraid can’t save you from the creepy robot eyes.

This may shock some of you, but I am not a Supreme Court justice. I am not in a position to inspire a reassessment of the value of personal privacy weighed against the importance of protecting material assets by our nation’s legal system.

That said, this is why you handle your own data security, and why you shop online.

Make exceptions only for retailers valuable enough to you that you don’t mind them recording you in their store in a format that may become publicly available.

Digital shopping, like digital everything, offers a much broader array of tools for protecting your privacy. We’ll be addressing that presently with…

Cookies:

Not nearly as delicious as they sound. Cookies are the OG data mining tools, itty bitty bits of data that track useful information about how customers use a given online service.

The fix:

As with their tastier namesakes, cookies are fine in moderation. Most digital cookies delete themselves at the end of your session or a set length of time anyway, and the few that don’t carry little enough information that it takes zillions to represent a serious liability. Clear your browser cache on the regs and you’re golden.

Loyalty Cards

Things are flippin’ everywhere all of a sudden, right? Gas, groceries, pharmacies: everybody wants your card or your phone number. As we’ve noted before, that may not lead to fun times.

The fix:

Think retailers present loyalty cards as merely as coupons or bonus points for your transactions?

Think otherwise.

The card comes before the transaction. Choose your purveyor of drugs and noms based at least in part on what the card buys you, because committing to the right one can yield crazy benefits. I personally shop one grocery rather than another because getting my tea and Fritos there earns me fuel points. I haven’t paid retail for gas in a year.

That adds up.

Purchasing data:

Ugh. I hate this. Older even than HTML cookies, this is the contemptible practice of companies buying and selling the personal information of their customers. Historically it’s been phone numbers and other contact info, but of course people willing to swipe your home phone will cheerfully swipe anything else they can get their grubby mitts on.

The fix:

This is probably unfixable on the grand scale, which we know because public and private sectors alike have tried. There is apparently a market here, which boggles my mind. I call out in desperation to the people supporting this market.

Stop buying things from unsolicited phone calls. Stop buying things from unsolicited emails.

If someone gets in touch with you without being asked, do not, for any reason, give them money.

Don’t ignore them, either. Go through their unsubscribe process, or call them back and tell them nothing except “I’m not interested. Take me off your list.”

In an interconnected world, the concept of privacy is drastically changing. That can be super scary. I mean, your TV watching you for the government, which was literally in 1984, is now a real thing, and even Orwell didn’t think we’d pay for the privilege.

But this isn’t a dystopia.

We’ve been altering how money and privacy interact since there has been money. Cash stopped being exchangeable for a fixed amount of an anonymous commodity in the far-off year of.. 1971. It didn’t go properly digital until ten years later.

Every new system means new rules. As always, they’re only scary until you make them work for you.

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Tech News

This phishing simulator tests your company’s (lack of) readiness

(TECHNOLOGY) Phishero is a tool which tests your organization’s resistance to phishing attacks. Pro tip: Most companies aren’t ready.

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In the wake of any round of cyberattacks, many organizations question whether they’re prepared to defend themselves against things like hacking or other forms of information theft. In reality, the bulk of workplace data thievery comes from a classic trick: phishing.

Phishing is a catch-all phrase for a specific type of information theft which involves emailing. Typically, a phishing email will include a request for sensitive data, such as a password, a copy of a W-4, or an account’s details (e.g., security questions); the email itself will often appear to come from someone within the organization.

Similar approaches include emailing a link which acts as a login page for a familiar site (e.g., Facebook) but actually stores your account information when you sign in.

Luckily, there’s a way for you to test your business’ phishing readiness.

Phishero, a tool designed to test employee resistance to phishing attacks, is a simple solution for any business looking to find any weak links in their cybersecurity.

The tool itself is designed to do four main things: identify potential targets, find a way to design a convincing phishing scheme, implement the phishing attack, and analyze the results.

Once Phishero has a list of your employees, it is able to create an email based on the same web design used for your company’s internal communications. This email is then sent to your selected recipient pool, from which point you’ll be able to monitor who opens the email.

Once you’ve concluded the test, you can use Phishero’s built-in analytics to give you an at-a-glance overview of your organization’s security.

The test results also include specific information such as which employees gave information, what information was given, and pain points in your current cybersecurity setup.

Phishing attacks are incredibly common, and employees – especially those who may not be as generationally skeptical of emails – are the only things standing between your company and catastrophic losses if they occur in your business. While training your employees on proper email protocol out of the gate is a must, Phishero provides an easy way to see how effective your policies actually are.

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