Track Your Stuff With Elgato Smart Key

Adam Miarka —  June 10, 2014

2014-06-09 20.29.20

Intro
Ever misplaced your keys? Or wanted to know when your luggage has arrived at the baggage claim?  Maybe marked the spot where you parked the car in the mall lot?

The Elgato Smart Key aims to address all of these situations as a sensor that you either attach or place on different items for tracking. Depending on what you are looking to track, the Smart Key can notify you of certain situations that might need attention.  Walk too far away from your keys, it will start to beep. Attach to your luggage and when it comes near to you at baggage claim, your phone will notify you.

Now Elgato isn’t the first company to offer such a product. Kensington has their Proximo set of trackers that work similarly. Whereas Kensington has duo trackers based on price/features, Elgato has just one model that includes all features of the Proximo series at $39. There’s also the newly released Tile that has a similar set of features, but a non-replaceable battery.

Hardware
The Smart Key puck itself is fairly simple. A little taller and wider than a four quarters stacked together, the Smart Key includes a single function button, a ring to attach to different items, and a replaceable battery cover on the back. The key even has a small speaker that beeps depending on the tracking activity.  Elgato also just released a newer version (1.1.1) which improves battery life and is said to last up to a year before needing to be replaced. When you do need to replace the battery, it takes the standard CR2032 battery.

Software
When you first open the Smart Key app (iOS), you are asked to pair a new key. This is as simple as pressing the button on the key as the app searches for it. The Smart Key utilizes Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy (BTLE) to create a pairing between your iPhone and the key. The range for connection is around 10 meters (30 feet). As you pass in and out of this range, the Smart Key will react based the activity you have created for it.

The app has the following activities built in with a summary of each:

  • Keychain – Attach the Smart Key to your keychain. Whenever you are out of range of your keys, the Smart Key will beep and you will also receive a notification on your phone.  You can also use the app to ping the Smart Key so that the audible alert goes off.
  • Car – Keep track of where you parked. As you leave the range of the tracker, it will mark your location in the app so you can then find your car later.
  • Camera, Handbag – Similar to keychain, you can receive alerts if you camera or bag are out of range.
  • Luggage – When you luggage comes into range, your phone will receive a notification.
  • Custom – Outside of these built in activities, the Smart Key app also allows you to create custom situations as well.

The app also allows you to set Safe Zones. When you are within these locations, the notifications will not occur.   This is useful say when you are using the Handbag situation at home.  You really don’t want the alert going off if you take your phone upstairs out of range and then have the key beeping all night.

Overall, the Smart Key app is very simple to use and customize. You have the ability to add multiple keys to the app so you can track multiple activities. I tested the Smart Key for my car/house keys, and also used it to peg my location as I moved around. Definitely came in handy as I wandered around the airport parking garage after a week away. Dave also suggested tracking our cats, but the wife gave me the look while I trying to chase one of them around for the experiment. :-) There is no reason why you couldn’t use it to track a pet. In the custom action, you can even upload a picture of what you are tracking.

Conclusion
The Elgato Smart Key provides a very convenient way to keep track of important things in your life. The product is just part of a growing number of sensors being launched by companies these days. Seeing these products is very welcome as our mobile phones become the digital center for all our activities. The ability to extend a phone’s functionality will only get better over time!

16 responses to Track Your Stuff With Elgato Smart Key

  1. Very cool.

    Is this iOS only?

  2. Currently, only iOS. App is specific for iPhone, but any iOS device with Bluetooth 4 could be used. Haven’t found any info if Elgato is going to add an Android app. If they did, I would think it would be limited to certain devices as I’ve seen with other products.

  3. Yah, the Bluetooth LE stuff isn’t as widely offered/supported in the Android world. And still think cat tracking would have made for a stellar photo op, if nothing else. ;)

  4. I bet my Nexus 5 would work if they ever did an Android app. :-)

    This is the stuff of the future. We will! http://youtu.be/5MnQ8EkwXJ0

  5. Seems interesting. Would be much cooler if you could actually track the location of your luggage to help when it gets lost. But it seems that the device doesn’t actually have GPS and merely notifies you when it comes with in range.

  6. I got a Trakr the other day and it’s pretty much the same thing. Never thought about using it for luggage though.

  7. “…but any iOS device with Bluetooth 4 could be used. ”

    Even an iPod Touch? (This may be wishful thinking.)

    /Don

  8. @Don as long as the iPod touch has Bluetooth 4.0, should work. It’s listed as a compatible model https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/elgato-smart-key/id674533376?mt=8

  9. I keep losing my Elgato Smart Keys. Will attaching these to those solve my problem?

    Also, I keep losing my couch. Will attaching these solve my problem? (You might not understand this, but after you find yourself uncomfortably perched on top of your microwave oven, or uncomfortably sprawled upon a branch of a tree, you’d appreciate an easy way to locate your couch.)

  10. Adam,

    Thanks for the review. Very interested in the category. Just got a tile and will be playing around with it. From what little I’ve done with it so far I don’t think its as full featured.

    A few questions:
    – Safe zones sounds great, but seems like it relies on geotracking. My limited experience with geotracking on the iPhone (“Siri, remind me when I get home to …”) is that it sucks batteries. Haven’t tried it lately though. Was this your experience?
    – Presumably when you get too far, it logs the location on GPS where your phone was, so you know approximately where you lost contact? The Tile does this.
    – Given that the GPS location will only get you so close, if you’re looking for your keys presumably you can make the thing play a tune or whatever so you can find it. How loud is it/e.g. does it work well? I had one of these types of things from a year ago that we lost track of and as the batteries died it would play a little ditty every so often but the sound was quiet enough that it took us days to find the damn thing.

  11. Hi Glenn

    Yes, the Safe Zone is using geofencing via the iPhone location services. I haven’t seen too much of a battery hit. I think with iOS 7, iOS now has shared location services, so it only makes a single call for tracking, then shares across apps instead of having each app trying to peg location data. That would definitely help battery life.

    When using the Smart Key in my car, it will tag a GPS location when the Smart Key disconnects from my iPhone. That way you have an approximation of where your key is.

    As for sound, when you are within range of the key, you can push a button in the app that will make the Smart Key make a beeping sound. It’s loud enough to find it at a distance of 20 or so feet.

  12. Chucky, you’re nuts. :-D

  13. I need one for my reading/computer glasses.

  14. “Chucky, you’re nuts.”

    I put an Elgato Smart Key on the Heat defense, and yet I couldn’t find it. Bug or feature?

    Go Spurs!

  15. I put an Elgato Smart Key on Boris Diaw, and the iOS app told me that he was omnipresent, and that trying to track a deity was a violation of the TOS.

  16. *crickets*