Chipolo's Long-Distance Tracker Will Find More Than Just Keys

Senior Editor
Updated

LAS VEGAS — With one of its future tracking devices, Chipolo is ready to take the next step beyond Bluetooth. And that means the maker of key and wallet trackers is looking to keep tabs on more expensive items that you own.

Chipolo GoChipolo GoAt CES 2019, Chipolo is previewing Chipolo Go, a 4.13 x 0.83-inch cylinder that you attach to your valuables to monitor where they are. Chipolo Go's not expected to ship until early next year, but it's still worth paying attention to now. While Chipolo's upcoming tracker will still make use of Bluetooth to help you find misplaced valuables via an app on your smartphone, Chipolo Go also features Wi-Fi, GPS and LTE connectivity. That means you'll be able to track anything attached to a Chipolo Go, no matter how far it is away from you.

Bluetooth-based trackers like Chipolo's current Classic and Plus offerings are effective for helping you find your keys in the morning. But once you're 150 feet or so away from an object, it will be out of range and undetectable. That makes Bluetooth ill-suited for keeping tabs on things like luggage, or expensive gear that leaves your immediate control.

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Chipolo Go looks to address that need by adding other forms of connectivity to Bluetooth and switching seamlessly to them when appropriate. If the Chipolo Go is within range of your phone, it will continue to connect over Bluetooth. But once that object is on the move — and accelerometers built into the tracker can detect that — it can switch over to wireless connections with greater range to find out where exactly your valuables are.

Chipolo says this approach of using Wi-Fi, GPS and LTE only when necessary keeps data consumption down and conserves power. The Chipolo Go is expected to last six months between charges, the company says.

When it ships next year, the Chipolo Go is expected to cost around $150. That'll be a one-time cost — Chipolo's marketing team told me there won't be any recurring service charges for this device, as there sometimes are with tracking gadgets that rely on LTE.

Chipolo DotChipolo DotChipolo also plans to update its Bluetooth tracker lineup, and you won't have to wait as long for that. The company plans to release the spherical Chipolo Dot (approximately $40) this fall, to replace the Chipolo Plus.

It will be a new design for Chipolo, which has featured coin-shaped trackers up until now. The Chipolo Dot is a 1.18-inch ball wrapped with a band of color that aims to stand out among other trackers and their flat looks.

Credit: ChipoloCredit: ChipoloChipolo says the promised features in the Dot reflect feedback from users, who wanted a device with a loud alarm, an LED light to find their keys more easily and water resistance. The Chipolo Dot has all of those, particularly the alarm, which blared loud enough to be heard in Chipolo's crowded booth at CES.

The Chipolo Dot will feature a replaceable battery, though company executives told me the CR2450 battery powering the tracker should last three years before you need to swap it out. However, while the Chipolo Dot can survive a splash of water or rain, you won't want to submerge it — a common tradeoff for key finders with replaceable batteries.