LAS VEGAS, CES 2013 – With irritating regularity, my girlfriend and I dance the same dance. She, or I, go to bed with our iPhones. She, or I, lose it somewhere within the ocean of the bedfolds. She, or I, find ourselves apoplectic. She, or I, demands that the other calls the phone to locate. And then she, or I, realize that we’ve lost our phone too. And then we murder each other into a spattering of bloody chunks in our festering rage, somehow to reconstitute ourselves, temporarily find our iPhones and begin this amphisbaena dance anew.
But no longer! At Digital Experience, I talked with a wonderful little outfit selling a gadget called the Hipkey, which creates a sort of blood bond between a dongle and your iPhone. The possibilities after that are pretty rich: not only can it help you find a lost iPhone, or a lost set of keys, but you can even do things like help find a missing child or be alerted by a pickpocketed smartphone with it.
The actual tech behind the Hipkey is pretty simple: it’s basically just a Bluetooth dongle that you pair with your iPhone that freaks out when the two find themselves outside of a certain range of another. The presentation is an attractive crescent moon with easily thumbed controls, and Bluetooth 4.0 low energy mode guarantees that you can keep your iPhone and Hipkey paired for a long time without noticing a bump against your battery life.
Hipkey has some secret sauce, though, and it’s all in the app. The app has multiple modes for different use cases. For example, you can do the obvious and tell Hipkey to start freaking out when your iPhone and the dongle find themselves separated by more than, say, 50 meters. Likewise, it can be used to find your missing iPhone, or likewise, your missing keys.
But the other modes are even more interesting. A Child Mode allows you to give the Hipkey dongle in case of emergencies. You basically set an area that your child can freely roam, and when your kid leaves that area, the alarm goes off, at which point, you can geolocate your precious little menace before he accidentally goes skinny dipping at the local sewer rending plant.
The other mode is also cool: Motion Mode is something you can set in the app, and it’ll freak out when your phone is moved at all. It’s a good anti-theft, anti-pickpocketing solution. And finally, there’s a Safe Zone that can be set, that makes sure that if you’re in a certain location zone (say, your house), the Hipkey won’t freak out at all without you telling it to.
The Hipkey is already out in Europe, and it’s due out in a couple weeks in the States for $89.99. We’ll write up a full review once we get a test unit.