You arrive at the meeting and realize you’ve forgotten your wallet. That’s the scenario a company called Bringrr is trying to prevent by offering intelligent tagging, in another example of the potential daily impact of the emerging Internet of Things.
Here's how it works: A small Bringrr car charger/reminder device is inserted into the cigarette lighter in a car. The device lights up and issues a warning sound if any of the Bringrr tagged items are not in a 50-foot to 150-foot range when they are supposed to be. In addition to the reminder unit, coin-shaped, colorful BringTags can be attached to any item you might miss if you forgot it -- a smartphone, folder, wallet, eyeglasses case, even a wandering cat. The Bringrr charger/reminder can also charge any USB device.
Aldo Beqiraj, CEO and co-founder of the company, noted in a statement that “every time you start your car, Bringrr will search” for missing items. If anything that should be nearby is not, the unit will issue a flash and sound, and send a to an app on your smartphone to indicate what is missing. Items can be scheduled for given routines, such as carrying a tablet with you during working hours on weekdays but not outside those times. You can also ping a tag to simply find out where your keys are, for example. If you still can’t locate the item, a “panic button” causes the tag to sound.
Instrumentation of Objects
If a tagged item is missing, the entire Bringrr community goes into action. A signal sent from your Bringrr reminder device is relayed to other reminder devices or Bringrr apps on other phones in the area, creating an ad-hoc all-points bulletin that quietly searches for your missing cat or whatever. The company said that if the object is found, the owner is notified securely and anonymously, so that no Bringrr users are shown the physical locations of other people or their possessions.
Brad Shimmin, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, told us that he likes “the overall move to instrument as many objects as possible,” as countless numbers of uncomputerized objects acquire the ability to transmit, receive or record data.
He compared Bringrr’s tags to near field communication tags that can create customized configurations for a smartphone when it enters a given location like an office as well as to Google’s announcement this week that it is buying intelligent thermostat vendor Nest, a sign that the intelligent home industry may be picking up steam.
BlueTooth Low Energy
The Massachusetts-based Bringrr, which launched just before Christmas, is currently attempting to raise funding via the crowdsourcing site Kickstarter. Its app is designed for iOS or Android devices, and even for Google Glass. The Glass app shows an image of a missing item. BringTags have replaceable batteries that are intended to last a year, and the use of Bluetooth low energy mode on the smartphone is designed to minimize battery drain.
During the fundraising campaign, the Bringrr unit is priced at $39, with the BringTags at $19 each. After the campaign, the price will rise to $49 and $25, respectively.
At least one other small company -- Tile -- is rolling out a similar tagging system for tracking items. Tile uses an app that tracks its Bluetooth low energy tile tags. The Tile tracking system searches for your possessions when you start your car. Tile also uses a network of other users’ tags to search a wider area for lost items, privately and without sharing item or location information.