Tracking your assets through peer-to-peer IoT networks

April 14, 2016 // By Julien Happich
Californian startup TrackR claims to be one of the most successful companies in the growing market of Bluetooth-enabled item trackers.

A plethora of Bluetooth trackers promise users they'll never lose a thing again, or at least that they'll be quick to find their lost items thanks to slim Bluetooth tags paired to their smartphone. Some Bluetooth tags even tap into cloud-based applications to crowdsource a tag's GPS location, by leveraging the proximity of other smartphone users (having adopted the same application) to locate the lost item and share back the data via the cloud.

Such peer-to-peer IoT networks only become effective at returning useful data when a service is massively adopted by end-users, by-passing the need for dedicated subscription-based IoT networks or GPS-enabled tags (whose data is typically shared for a monthly fee).

With over 1.5 million TrackR devices shipped since its 6331% funded Indiegogo campaign in 2014 (raising $1,724,829), TrackR's President and Co-Founder Christian Smith is confident about coverage.

"With tens of thousands of active users, we've got the largest Crowd GPS network running" he told EETimes Europe. With our current user base, you can find your tagged items 24/7 in most metropolitan cities", he said.

The company offers various TrackR tags catering for different applications, including the 3.5mm thin TrackR bravo (31mm in diameter and operating up to a year on a replaceable CR1616 battery), the TrackR wallet (slightly larger but with a two-year battery life), and the TrackR sticker 25mm in diameter and 5mm thick, that will stick to your assets.

And the network is about to expand. TrackR is talking to consumer good manufacturing companies so they embed the Bluetooth tracker module and software into their goods, boasting the number of users relying on its TrackR application.

"HP is about to embed trackers into one million laptop backpacks, and Cross is looking at embedding a tracker capability into its luxury pens", Smith said.