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Thursday, March 24, 2016

All is not lost! Keeping track of your stuff



Roderick Eime looks at some new and novel ways to keep your stuff safe

We’ve all been there, that moment when our heart skips a beat and our hair bristles.

You look in your backpack or overnight bag and it’s gone! The camera, the iPhone, the charger, the whatever. And if you anything like me, you spend the next however many hours trying to forensically retrace your steps and actions wondering where it could be.

Now in this age of miraculous technology there are a number of enterprising folks who have come up with ideas to help you trace, locate and hopefully recover lost or (heaven forbid) stolen items.

Here’s a couple that have received attention recently.

TrackR
TrackR

This one is in the techy/clever box. TrackR is a tiny Mission Impossible-sized key ring about the size of a fat 10 cent piece. Simply attach it to your valuable, download and install the smartphone app and if you and your inseparable thing get separated, an alert will be created.

The way it works is that the little TrackR device communicates with your smartphone via Bluetooth. Yep, just like any other Bluetooth device. So if it goes out of range, it alerts you before you jump in your car and head off. Can be a bit tricky if your only device is attached to your only smartphone … but the reverse will work too, so if you have your keys and lose your phone, the device will ring your phone - even if it’s on silent.

You could even use it to track a child or pet and the app will remember the last known location and mark it on a map.

Say it’s on your keys, then the smartphone will also tell you how far away you are (ie getting warmer!) Plus TrackR is building a GPS-connected crowd network so that if another TrackR user is near your lost item, it will alert them. A bit of a long shot at the moment, but nice idea.

You can add numerous devices to be tracked from your phone and be sure to keep the battery in your device fresh, or it will all be for naught. You should also remember the little device does not have it’s own GPS capability. That’s only delivered by the app which uses the smartphone’s GPS feature.

Update: the new TrackR Bravo is an improved version and is thinner and made of metal.

www.thetrackr.com



Tile

A competing device similar to TrackR but not part of this test. Comparable features, but does not currently allow reverse tracking.

www.thetileapp.com

Note: You can track your lost luggage with Lugloc - which uses cellphone coverage and GPS



Simplicity: idtagit
idtagit

In a counter revolutionary move, this innovative company has gone old school by simply using good old-fashioned plastic ID tags. Each special idtagit tag has a unique number, like a serial number, that you can assign to whatever item you want to protect: a phone, camera, bag, whatever.

The idea then is that you create a profile and register the item and tag on the idtagit.com website and if a benevolent soul finds your item, it can be returned to you. A bit like microchipping your cat.

The tags are about key fob size and can be either attached to your key ring or stuck to a flat surface like on your laptop or iPad.

www.idtagit.com



Lost Found Stolen and Missing

Lost Found Stolen Missing Dot Com

Now I have to declare that my octogenarian uncle came up with this idea and created a website that is like the Gumtree for Lost & Found.

It’s taken off like wildfire and folks are using it for anything from lost sporting goods and stolen cars to missing persons and pets. Given that the police are largely ineffective in locating lost and stolen items, sometimes we have to take matters into our own hands and this is one proactive method for people who have, for one reason or another, lost something.

Perhaps a bit limiting if you are on the go and travelling, but a sensible, simple and effective method for communities and neighbourhoods nonetheless.

www.lostfoundstolen.com.au



Take sensible precautions

Of course, prevention is always the preferred strategy and here are some handy tips for travellers.
  • Always make duplicates of your travel documents, passports, cards etc and leave them with a friend or parents. You can store digital copies on your cloud service or send them to yourself in an email.
  • Likewise with valuable items. Photograph your things so you can show someone a picture. “Have you seen this?”
  • When travelling, make sure you take personal security seriously. Wear a money belt and keep a close eye on bags and cases. 
  • Don’t carry more stuff than you need to. If going out to a crowded place, festival or event, just take one card and a bit of cash. Leave the rest in the hotel safe.
  • Learn to recognise danger signs. Avoid dodgy places and people and travel with a friend or in a group where possible.

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