Finnish mobile manufacturer Nokia has announced a new product called a Treasure Tag, which is effectively a proximity sensor that delivers information to a smartphone via NFC and Bluetooth connectivity.
The idea is that users can attach the Treasure Tag to valuable items, such as house keys, wallets or bags.
Users will then receive an alert when the tagged item is moved a certain distance away from their phone so that they can check up on its status and ideally foil theft attempts or potential losses.
Smartphones are already packed with proximity sensors and other semiconductors, but this separate item is a little different and falls into the category of being a useful peripheral rather than an essential mobile feature.
The Treasure Tag is powered by an internal battery, giving it six months of use from a single charge. It is also ‘always on’, which means users do not need to worry about whether or not it is powered up before they go out and about with valuables, according to The Verge.
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The proximity sensor is linked to one of Nokia’s Lumia smartphones via its own Windows Phone 8 application, which is the software that will deliver an alert when the two items are moved further than a predetermined distanced from one another.
But this app doesn’t just give alerts – it lets users see the location of the sensor if and when it is lost, using mapping to help them track it down.
The sensor also works in reverse, giving people the ability to find their phone by holding down a button which in turn will cause the handset to emit an alert sound. Obviously this is reliant on the two products being within range of one another, but it could be convenient for those who often forget where they have put their smartphone.
The Treasure Tag from Nokia is not the only proximity sensing gadget of its kind to emerge in recent years, with Tile offering compatibility with iOS devices from Apple.
Tile raised over two million dollars during its time on the KickStarter crowd funding service, showing that there is public demand for this type of product.
Tile can be affixed to a wide variety of items and is even suitable for attachment to expensive products like laptops and tablets.
Proximity sensors are becoming more advanced and it makes sense for them to be integrated with smartphone apps and mobile capabilities so that they can exist in a rich ecosystem of additional gadgets.
As a security measure they could prove to be very useful, particularly for people who worry about becoming the victim of theft and of course, for those of us who are simply very forgetful.
It will be interesting to see whether Nokia’s Treasure Tag product is able to capture a significant segment of this emerging market, or whether its iOS-favouring rival, Tile will be in a better position thanks to the improved penetration of the existing Apple devices.