New tracking technology could make lost belongings a thing of the past

New tracking technology

As a 6-year-old, Josh Lippiner’s daughter, Emma, played hide-and-seek to win. So one day, when she vanished for more than a few minutes, her parents panicked.

“My wife and I couldn’t find her,” Lippiner remembers. “We completely freaked out.”

Then came an idea that changed Lippiner’s life and, maybe, your next trip: “I thought, ‘What if there was a very small, super-simple device that can locate anything or anyone quickly and easily, anywhere in the world? And what if I can attach it to Emma’s shoes?’ ”

A new tracking technology 

Lippiner’s company, Ping GPS, is at the vanguard of an exciting new phase in locating technology that might end everything from lost car keys to missing luggage. The $99 Ping, debuting just in time for the summer travel season, promises to help reduce your losses on vacation. Think of it like Tile, only smaller and with a near unlimited range that works in almost every country, thanks to cellular technology.

The ability to track a valuable item is being integrated into new products, too. It all points to a future in which side trips to the lost and found are unnecessary. As the absent-minded father of three forgetful kids, I’m a regular there. Sometimes we’re lucky. I recovered a pair of sunglasses on a recent visit to California. (Thanks, Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa.) How many phones have I permanently lost because the device had run out of battery power? More than one. And that pricey Apple charger we left at the airport in Orlando is still missing in action.

Travelers like Carol Stratford are excited about the prospect of a lossless travel future. She recently misplaced her iPhone on a United Airlines flight and used the “Find My Phone” app to track it.

“I found it in the airline’s lost and found on the way home,” recalls Stratford, who owns a marketing company in Crestwood, Ky. But what if everything had a “Find My Phone” feature built in?

Tracking glasses

Glasses, for example. This spring, the Portland, Ore.-based company Fetch Eyewear is launching its “Find” line embedded with a Bluetooth tracking device. The frames pair with your smartphone, and if you venture more than about 20 yards from your frames, you’ll receive an alert on your device. Prices start at $185. “Many people struggle to keep track of their glasses,” says company founder Ann Sacks, “even at home.”

Interestingly, the tracking technology to find glasses has been around for years. But the technology to track them in style, without a bulky addition to the frame, has only recently become available.

Of course tracking valuables, part of a trend to connect everything in our lives to the Internet, isn’t limited to eyewear. A start-up company called Woolet.co has developed a $149 wallet that “can’t be lost.” How does it work? Small, Bluetooth-powered sensors connect to your smartphone and alert you when the wallet goes out of range. The Woolet app also shows the last known location of your wallet.

The miniature tracking technology can be attached to anything. The $74 TrackR pixel is a coin-size tracker that attaches to any item, including your keys, laptop or camera. The device, which also uses Bluetooth technology, pairs to a smartphone app. You can use your phone to locate any item immediately. When a tracked item goes missing, you can consult the in-app map for the last place you were within Bluetooth range (about 100 feet), or you can engage every open TrackR app to anonymously search for your lost item. TrackR uses crowdsourcing to find items through a network of owners around the world.

Other tracking solutions

Not all tracking solutions rely exclusively on technology. Consider Okoban, a system that allows you to tag property with a unique identification code and then register it online. Some baggage, such as CabinZero, tags all of its luggage that way. Okoban integrates into WorldTracer, a central lost and found system used by airlines, and if a tagged bag is found, can easily be reunited. But you’re not limited to luggage. Okoban’s small labels will attach to almost anything, including computers, passports and carry-on bags. The WorldTracer system is used by more than 400 airlines, airport companies and baggage handlers, so if your belongings get lost en route, there’s a good chance they’ll be recovered.

Even shoes are plugged in these days. The new “connected” shoe from Under Armour, HOVR Phantom, includes an accelerometer and records your distance, stride length and cadence using an embedded chip. But it’s not marketed as a shoe for monitoring your location and — sorry, parents — it won’t track your teenagers at the mall. At least not yet. Instead, it’s meant to record the owner’s athletic performance.

Oh, before I forget: Lippiner found his daughter a few minutes after losing her. She’s now 10 and “even more active and independent than she was when we started down this path,” says Lippiner, a start-up specialist based in Charlotte. And he’s used Ping GPS to keep tabs on her, although he doesn’t attach it to her shoes. Instead, she clips it into her pocket.

This second wave of tracking technology could put the Unclaimed Baggage Center out of business. Then again, it’s up to travelers to buy and activate the new technology. If you’re as absent-minded as I am, I probably don’t have to tell you how this one is going to end.

Underwritten by

Underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Underwritten by Enterprise

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

Underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Underwritten by InsureMyTrip

It’s simple. InsureMyTrip finds you the right travel insurance plan, every time. InsureMyTrip is the authority on travel insurance. Rated A+ for travel insurance by the Better Business Bureau. All travelers that purchase a policy through  InsureMyTrip have access to Anytime Advocates® for claims assistance.

Underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Underwritten by SCOTTeVEST

An innovative apparel brand for people who want easy access to everything they need. For those who live for every second, SCOTTeVEST lets you maximize your life. Ditch the carry-on bag and pick up a  SCOTTeVEST.

Underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Underwritten by Sungard Availability Services

Leveraging more than 35 years of experience, Sungard AS designs, builds and runs critical IT services that help businesses manage complex IT, adapt quickly and build resiliency and availability. A leading provider of critical production and recovery services, Sungard AS partners with customers across the globe, delivering resilient IT systems, infrastructure and recovery services tailored to achieving desired business outcomes.

Underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

%d bloggers like this:
Get smart. Sign up for the newsletter.