Smart 'stickers' find things by phone

2013-02-28 14:53

(Justin Sullivan, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Barcelona, Spain – On the floor of the world's largest cellphone trade show in Barcelona, Spain, he's looking at the screen of his iPod Touch, taking a few steps, and then looking again. Now and then he backtracks or turns, and looks again. Slowly, he confines his movements to a smaller and smaller area. Then he drops to his knees, and checks the screen again. He scrabbles forward.

"There we are!" he says.

Buchheim has found his keys, which had been hidden behind a wastebasket by a skeptical reporter. On the key ring is a small disc, slightly bigger than a quarter. That's what Buchheim was homing in on, with his iPod. It allowed him to find his keys, hidden out of sight in an apartment-sized booth.

Buchheim's Davie, Florida-based company, Stick-N-Find Technologies, wants to give people a way to find things, whether it's keys, wallets, TV remotes, or cat collars.

There's no real trick to sending out a radio signal and having a phone pick it up. That's been done before. What makes the Stick-N-Find practical is a new radio technology known as Bluetooth Low Energy, which drastically reduces the battery power needed to send out a signal. That means the disc can be small, light enough for its sticky back to adhere to a lot of surfaces, and be powered by a watch-type battery that lasts up to two years without recharging. The signal can be picked as far as 91m away, but that's under ideal circumstances. On the floor of the wireless show, with a multitude of Wi-Fi transmitters jamming the airwaves, the range was roughly 6m.

One downside to Bluetooth Low Energy: It doesn't come cheap. Stick-N-Find charges $50 for two "stickers" from its first production run, which starts shipping next week. It gave early backers a better deal, 4 discs for $65, on crowdfunding site
Indiegogo, where it had sought to raise $70 000 from donors and ended up getting $931 970 by the time the campaign ended last month.

Another downside is that few devices can pick up the signals. The latest two iPhones can do it, as can the latest iPod Touches and iPads. The latest high-end Samsung smartphones work, too. Bluetooth Low Energy is expected to become a standard feature in phones, but it's not yet.

Whatever device you use, it won't tell you exactly where your sticker is located. All it can tell is how far away it is. That means finding something is a process of walking around and checking whether you're getting "hotter" or "colder." Of course, often you don't really need to know where your wallet is: knowing that it's within 2m and therefore somewhere in the car with you is assurance enough. Buchheim says the company has plans to add direction-finding features.

Users can also set up a virtual "leash" between a sticker and a Bluetooth device. Depending on the settings, when the two devices move a certain distance away from each other, the sticker starts beeping or the device's screen shows an alert. That way, you could use sticker in your wallet, linked to your phone, to let you know if you're leaving either one behind.

Buchheim sees this as just the start for what Bluetooth Low Energy can do. Stick-N-Find is working with a museum that's interested in putting stickers on its exhibits, so they can issue tablets or other devices to visitors that can sense the proximity of exhibits, and say "Hello, this is the statue of so-and-so," Buchheim says.

It could even end up as a technology for the blind – one that tells them where their belongings are, he says.

Read more on:    technology
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Summer Survey!
Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!
Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The energy today is serious, materialistic and hardworking. You may find you get a new outlook on things and you may want to spend...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.