Pour one out for another consumer IoT device. Back in 2015, our hopes were raised when TrackR, better known for their Bluetooth item trackers, showed off TrackR Atlas at the CES in Las Vegas. It was designed to eliminate the need to hear a tiny TrackR beeping from across your home, and we were excited to get our hands on it.
Sadly, after years of delays, unsatisfactory beta trials, promises of free additional Atlas devices, and free TrackR Bravos, CEO Nate Kelly informed us their Atlas product would not be a part of their ongoing development roadmap and thus will not come to market. To their credit, TrackR is offering a full refund to all that invested in the ill-fated project.
The technology would have allowed tracking of personal devices via your phone, tablet, or even by simply asking Alexa where specifically in your home the item was. The plan was for on-demand, room-specific tracking of items by plugging in Bluetooth beacons in different rooms of your home. These beacons would then communicate with a mobile device or Amazon Alexa via WiFi to determine the specific location of phones, tablets or any item with a Bluetooth tracker in range of one of the beacons. Once the specific room of the item location was known, you could then ring the Bluetooth device from the app or ask Alexa to ring it for you.
What really impressed us about Atlas was the ambitious goal of making this beacon technology compatible with not just TrackR Bravo devices, but just about any Bluetooth tracker. To date, we have not seen any other technology for the home that would have been so helpful for tracking personal items. However, due to the complexity and restrictions on positioning Bluetooth beacons, the number required for accurate trilateration, and the tendency of interference to lower their effectiveness, it isn’t so surprising that these devices are still primarily used for commercial asset management.Since the TrackR Atlas prototype was first made public, there have also been significant improvements in Bluetooth tracker technology, such as the longer range and much louder Tile Sport we reported on for Home: On in episode 92. Tile has also improved their app and Alexa skill to the point where it is now possible to locate your personal items nearly anywhere inside your home just by tapping a button in the app or asking Alexa. You can also find multiple phones by double-clicking the Tile, or simply asking Alexa, even if the app on the misplaced phone is not running.
Alas poor Atlas, we hardly knew ye.
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