By Kelli B. Grant
Senior consumer reporter and “Deal of Day” columnist Kelli B. Grant travels to Las Vegas to find the best, the worst, and the most hyped gadgets at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Join her as she roams the exhibit floor for three days, with dispatches here and on Twitter @kellibgrant.
The same technology used to track warehouse inventory and tag cattle can soon be used to keep track of your keys, cellphone — and even your kids. Within reason, anyway.
Available in February, the $100 Bikn (pronounced like “beacon”) kit includes two tags and a smart iPhone case that communicate with each other via encoded radio waves. Sets of two additional tags will be available for $50 each. Users will be able to use the linked app to find a tagged item or person — follow the on-screen directions to the tag, or send a page so that the tag beeps and vibrates. A “leash” feature sends alerts to both the phone and the tag if they move a predetermined distance from each other, say, if a child wanders too far at the mall.
Experts say the device is more versatile than less expensive gadgets that largely find keys, but Bikn has its limitations. Currently, it only works with the iPhone. It also only works if the missing person or object is less than 800 feet away. So if a pickpocket has walked off with your keys or Fido makes a break for it and doesn’t stop when his radio tag starts beeping, well, we hope you’re a fast sprinter. A spokeswoman says the company has another product in development that would link with a home Internet connection and broaden the Bikn’s range (at home, anyway) to four kilometers.