Most tech enthusiasts these days would be familiar with equipment trackers – there’s Tile, Apple’s AirTags, and for things you really don’t want to lose, 3G/4G powered GPS trackers as well.
The problem with most of these is that there’s ongoing costs (in the case of 3G/4G trackers) or the requirement for someone nearby with a compatible device AND compatible software to detect your tracker for it to be of any use. Unfortunately, this can mean that some trackers aren’t very useful for finding your stuff.
Of all the ones in the wild, Tile and Apple AirTags seem to work best, but even then, they’re far from perfect.
This is what Mimiq is trying to address with its card-sized tracker which promises access to a global network without the need for a SIM card or mobile service. Using LoRaWAN networks and a service called Helium (which appears to be US-only), the Mimiq Track should be able to notify you of its location across a wide area, presuming its in range of a LoRaWAN base station. These are somewhat common in populous areas of Australia, but out where we are – for example – there’s not many. I have one at my place, for example, but it isn’t using a public LoRaWAN network – it uses my own internal one for some smart home tricks – so the Mimiq wouldn’t work using my radio.
So how will it work? Well, it uses Bluetooth at close range, so you can keep an eye on stuff that’s meant to stay with you (e.g. a wallet, purse, bag, etc). When it strays outside of Bluetooth range, that’s when it will fall back on to LoRaWAN frequencies which will be very reliant on being in range of such a device. The good news is, with a decent antenna and a reasonable elevation, a LoRaWAN gateway can provide coverage for a few kilometre radius from its location … so in more built up areas, you might get lucky.
We don’t know too much more about the Mimiq Track just yet, having just been announced at CES, but we’ve got one coming to try it out and see hot it works in Australia. I suspect, given the proliferation of iPhones around Australia, that an AirTag is probably going to be the better bet for coverage here, but it’ll be fun to find out.