Bluetooth trackers are sometimes also referred to as Bluetooth finders or Bluetooth tags and more generally, smart trackers or tracking tags. The latter two are also used to describe GPS trackers, so pay attention to what technology a certain tracker says it is using before you buy.
Bluetooth trackers are usually used to find keys, car keys, wallets, bags, backpacks, toys, TV remotes and even small pets.
A tracker will connect to an app on your phone via Bluetooth the first time you set it up and then maintain a connection to your phone for as long as it is in the connection range (60 meters / 200 feet).
You make it ring by pressing a button in the app on your phone, which makes the Bluetooth gadget ring with a loud melody to help you find your missing item.
Once the device and your phone are out of connection range, the app on your phone will display the last location the tracking tag was connected on a map instead.
The Bluetooth connection it has with the phone works both ways, so you’ll also be able to use your smart tracker to find your phone; even if it’s on silent.
The smart tag has a single battery inside and, in some cases, it can be replaced.
The tracker saves power as much as possible to make it last longer, so it relies on your phone to do all the ‘heavy lifting’ when it comes to data transmissions. Some Bluetooth trackers have a replaceable battery, so you don’t have to replace the whole tag when the battery runs out, while others offer a discounted renewal program for when you have to repurchase the tag.
The connection range on a Bluetooth tracking device can go up to 60 meters (200 ft).
It is limited by the Bluetooth signal strength of your phone but unlike most GPS trackers, it will keep the connection even when indoors, so they are perfect for tracking everyday essentials like keys or wallet, but not the best choice for tracking your car or child over larger distances.
The smart tag also has In Range and Out of Range notifications.
However, it doesn’t support geofencing like GPS trackers do. It will notify you when you go out of range of your Bluetooth tracker and when you come back into range. Since the connection range is limited, you should still be able to find your lost item before you get too far away and someone else ‘claims’ it as their own.
Most Bluetooth trackers also have a virtual Lost and Found Community.
In highly populated areas like major cities, it can prove helpful, since there are more users there to pick up on the location of your lost tracker. But what if you live outside a well-populated area? Crowdsourcing in less populated places can be hit or miss, but with some Bluetooth tags, you can share your tracker with your loved ones through the app.
This enables you to create your own private Lost and Found network. Since most of us move in the same places most of the time anyway, sharing your tracker with your friends and family can prove to be an effective solution to finding lost stuff.
Bluetooth trackers are compatible with most smartphones today.
They use Bluetooth 4.0 to connect and since most smartphones today already have this technology included, they are compatible with almost all Android and iOS devices.
But wait, there's more...
The basic features of Bluetooth trackers that we described above (e.g. ring your belongings / ring your phone) are more or less the same with all brands, but each brand also offers a few additional features that they feel might be important to their users (water resistance, custom ringtones, web apps to help you find your phone from your computer, different colours…), so make sure to check those out as well before you buy.
Have a look at the ratings of the app that accompanies the Bluetooth tracker too and how responsive their customer support is. These are usually good indicators of how invested the company is in their product!