TrackR Whines on Facebook

I’ve been seeing a lot of whines posted to TrackR Bravo adverts on  Facebook. These seem to be from people who bought one or more TrackR Bravo devices expecting magic. Their things would just appear on the app map.

That’s not the way TrackR and similar bluetooth beacons work folks. When an item goes missing, the App tells you it is nearby. Then you tell that tag to sound off and locate the item by ear! That’s it. If that meets your needs, you’ll be happy. You can find the car keys hidden under the stuff on your desk, in the laundry bin, in the washer (well before being washed), etc.

This is just like playing Marco Polo with your car in a big carpark. Push the lock button. The car beeps. you walk toward the beep repeating the beep as needed. That’s how these Bluetooth tags work.

But not if you left your keys in the car. But not when you left them on your desk at work! Bluetooth tags are not Find My iPhone! There is no GPS receiver in the tag. There’s no cellular radio in the tag. Just a Bluetooth 4 link that plays Marco Polo with nearby tag apps.

“Crowd GPS” works like this. The tag is continually calling Marco. If an active tag app is nearby, it hears the Marco broadcast and sends the phone’s coordinates and the tag’s UUID to tag world HQ. World HQ tells the tag owner’s app where in the world the tag was just heard.

So, to locate your missing item away from your phone, another subscriber’s phone has to pass nearby. That’s it. No GPS in the tag, no cellular radio in the tag. Just Marco Polo with compatible apps. If the manufacturers buddy up and share data, the world becomes better for all of us. That may happen as TrackR Atlas listens for and reports foreign tags. More about Atlas when mine comes.