Bluetooth-enabled key finders already exist, and I’ve written about them before. It’s really a simple concept: a Bluetooth-enabled key fob that makes some noise when you click a button on your phone, thus allowing you to find your keys. With existing products, there is one small issue: battery life. The Cobra Tag in the link above is rated at 7 days, which means it requires a rechargeable battery so you can keep it charged.
This is the problem that the Hone wants to solve using one of my favorite overlooked technologies: Bluetooth 4.0. I’ve written about a few products that use the Bluetooth 4.0 low energy consumption technology before, and put simply, it allows a Bluetooth device to run for months or years on button cell batteries. The Hone itself is rated at 6 months on a standard CR2032 (one of the most common button cell batteries) battery, so to say that it’s a slight upgrade to a device you have to recharge every week is an understatement.
Due to the Bluetooth 4.0 requirement, few devices can actually use the Hone. Only the iPhone 4S and iPad 3 will be compatible with it at launch, as the project creators claim that Android is lacking the necessary software components to do a universal solution for Bluetooth 4.0 Android devices right now. I say “claim” because the other products that use Bluetooth 4.0 haven’t mentioned anything like that, but it might also be that they’re simply adding support on a per-device basis – which quite frankly is what the Hone people should do at this point too, with only a few devices having Bluetooth 4.0, anyway. The Samsung Galaxy S III is one of them, and if you go by the S II sales, it will probably end up selling enough to warrant making an app just for it for that matter.
Anyway, the Hone will work using an iOS app that pings it and makes it go “here I am.” You have to be in range of course, but the app also translates signal strength into a proximity sensor to give you the ability to “scan” for it. It will cost you $49 to pledge for one, and it’s estimated to ship in October assuming the $46,000 funding goal is reached[Kickstarter]