It’s a universal problem that is as old as time. Everyone has experienced losing their keys or wallet, becoming lost or separated from a group, being unsure at a fork in the road, or turned around and the person you are watching is gone.
There is a wide range of technology products that solve this problem and help users locate people and items. These devices often are interchangeably referred to as ‘trackers’ or ‘finders’ each with their benefits and drawbacks including range, price and reliance on other technology such as phones or networks.
Types of Finders/Trackers
Bluetooth trackers like Tile or TrackR:
If you find you’re often scrambling to look for your keys or bag as you're heading out the door, a Bluetooth tracker may be just what you need. These devices have a range large enough to cover most homes or workplaces, around 50 to 100ft.
Bluetooth trackers allow you to use a smartphone app to monitor the location of whatever they are attached to. You can remotely trigger a sound on the tracker to locate it when you're nearby (say, if you’ve misplaced your keys in your couch). If your tracker is out of range of your smartphone, some companies, like Tile, have launched a Premium crowd-enabled feature that allows you to pay a monthly fee to leverage other users with the same tracker app to assist with locating your lost items. Choose a Bluetooth Tracker If : You often find yourself leaving behind small items such as your wallet or keys in your home, car or workplace.
Cell phone with apps like Find My Friends
Apps like Find My Friends use the location services of your smartphone to share your location with other people. Both you and your chosen companions must download the same app and send each other a request. Once approved, the location of their device (and them with it) will show up on the in-app map. Location sharing relies on your phone knowing its location via GPS or other methods and having a reliable connection with a nearby WiFi router or cell tower. These apps are handy if you want to track or be tracked by someone whether or not they contact you. Can this be a bit creepy? Sure. But it can also be a convenient solution for connecting with people you trust when you know you will have a phone, reliable service and good battery life. Choose Phone Apps Like Find My Friends If : You want to track movements of people when you know you will have cell service and everyone will have their phone on them at all times.
Avalanche transceiver beacons
Specifically designed to find people in avalanches, these safety devices use radio signals (456khz) to transmit and receive location information in case of emergency. Each member wearing an avalanche beacon while in the backcountry greatly increases the chances of survival and well being of the group in the event of emergency. If an avalanche occurs, anyone nearby can set their beacons to receive signals to locate someone buried in the snow. Choose an Avalanche Beacon If : you plan to spend time in backcountry snow or other avalanche prone areas.
A quality two-way radio or walkie-talkie can be a fast and easy way to communicate via voice when cell phones are not reliable or you have difficulty finding cellular service. Unlike cell phones, you can use them anywhere without worrying about network availability or restrictions. Radios are available with different numbers of channels and wattage for range of coverage across different terrains. Most radios allow you to speak with your companions at a line of sight range of around 2 miles. Choose a 2 Way Radio If : you want to speak directly with companions without relying on a cell phone or network.
Smartphone extensions like GoTenna
GoTenna is a radio-based tool you connect to your phone to send messages and share location data to other users while off the grid. Cellular networks can be inconsistent at best when camping, hiking, or hunting in the backcountry. If you and your friends all have GoTenna and a smartphone with charge, you can use them to communicate via messaging without depending on a cell phone network. You can send messages up to a mile in urban areas and up to 3 miles in forested areas. You cannot use GoTenna to communicate with emergency services. Choose GoTenna If : you want the ability to message and send location data to your friends phones while off the grid or other places that cellular networks may be down or overloaded.
Lynq is a small device that allows you to find people anywhere for miles without the need for phones, networks, infrastructure or any monthly fees. Using a simple, one button interface, you are able to pair up to 12 devices. Once paired, your Lynq shows the real-time distance and direction of the people you are paired up with, making it incredibly simple to find each other in crowds, remote areas, festivals or anywhere under the open sky.
Lynq has a range of up to 3 miles, a battery life of up to 3 days of mixed use and rugged waterproof construction that make it the ideal tool for finding your people during serious off-grid outdoor adventures.
You can set a home base with Lynq so the whole group can easily find and meet back up at a central location when your activity is over. They can also establish a boundary distance, to let you know when someone has roamed too far from you - a great feature for kids and pets.
Lynq uses unique technology, blending GPS and long range radio frequency together with proprietary algorithms to create a closed, private network for its users. It is simple enough for anyone to use but robust enough for the US Military to use during training and locating wounded and unconscious soldiers.
Choose Lynq If : you are looking for a simple reliable way to locate your companions in the outdoors without relying on phone, cell service, wifi or monthly fees.