Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Stuff | Loss prevention

Gadgets help you keep track of your cell phone

NEW YORK — Is that a flashing "Z" in your pocket, or are you just glad to still have your cell phone?

The Z stands for Zomm, a little multipurpose gadget for your pocket, purse or keychain whose main function is to prevent you from walking off and leaving your phone somewhere. It does so by lighting up and sounding an alarm when it's more than 30 feet from the device to which you have electronically linked it.

A lot of technology products are irritating by accident. The Zomm — and the Phone Halo, a similar-in-concept but less-versatile competitor — intend to irritate, and by and large do a good job of it.

About 30 million wireless phones go missing every year, according to Asurion Corp., the Nashville-based wireless-phone insurer. Apple, Microsoft and others offer various find-my-phone services and applications that may help you locate a lost phone — if you've enrolled your phone ahead of time, and in Apple's case purchased its MobileMe service. But they don't do anything to prevent you from losing it. That's where Zomm and Phone Halo come in.

The Zomm device, which costs $79.95, is a disc about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Once you pair it with your phone via Bluetooth, its large central button flashes every five seconds to reassure you it's still within range. Walk off, and it begins to flash more rapidly, vibrate and emit an alarm that, even buried in the depths of my pocket, was loud enough to command the attention of several colleagues when I deliberately ventured away from my iPhone.

That isn't all the Zomm does, though. It also incorporates a speakerphone that allows you to answer incoming calls. While I found the sound too fuzzy for regular use, I could see it coming in handy for someone who might otherwise fumble around in a large bag or purse to find a ringing phone. In addition, the flashing Z doubles as a panic button that, when held for 15 seconds, first emits an alarm and then, if not released, dials your local emergency-services number and plays a recorded message asking that help be sent to the location of your phone.

While the Zomm works with any Bluetooth-enabled phone, the $59.95 Phone Halo, which is about the size of a rubber eraser, so far is limited to users of BlackBerrys and phones using Google's Android operating system. (The company says iPhone compatibility is in the works.) Setup is more involved than with the Zomm; you will first have to download and install the appropriate app on your phone, then configure it.

On the other hand, the Phone Halo offers you a host of notification options — not just an audible tone (which I found too faint, though others had no trouble hearing it) but also via e-mail. You can even configure it to tweet a lost-phone message to your Twitter followers, though fear of public humiliation kept me from trying out that one.

As a side benefit, you can use the Phone Halo in reverse, attaching it to other kinds of things you don't want to misplace — a briefcase, for instance — and using your phone to warn you. Separate them too far, and the Phone Halo app is preprogrammed to play the 1960s song (There's) Always Something There to Remind Me.

All that beeping, flashing and, in the case of the Phone Halo, cheesy pop can quickly become tiresome; just ask my co-workers. Then again, that's exactly the point.

Gadgets help you keep track of your cell phone 09/30/10 [Last modified: Thursday, September 30, 2010 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Bloomberg News.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Plan your weekend Aug. 18-20: Elvis in concert, Jason Aldean, Monster Jam Triple Threat, Sing-Along Grease

    Events

    Plan your weekend

    The king

    Elvis: Live in Concert: This year marks the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, and Ruth Eckerd Hall will have a Graceland-produced Elvis concert on a movie screen, accompanied by a full live orchestra. Graceland calls it the closest audiences …

    Handout photos of Elvis: Live in Concert, a tour spectacle featuring a live orchestra backing the voice of Elvis Presley, projected onto a movie screen. The tour comes to Ruth Eckerd Hall on 8/18/17. Credit: Graceland.
  2. Woman convicted in murder of 18-year-old with cerebral palsy gets lighter term

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Linda Bonck, a 90-pound Chamberlain High School senior with cerebral palsy, lived near Tampa's Lowry Park. She struggled to walk and talk but was known for being friendly and trusting of strangers until she vanished one day in 1992.

    Georgia Miller, 39, was convicted for the 1992 murder of Linda Bonck, an 18-year-old Chamberlain High School student who had cerebral palsy. Originally sentenced to life in prison, Miller was resentenced Wednesday to 65 years, the result of U.S. and Florida Supreme Court decisions that found it unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to life. With gain time, Miller will be released from prison in the next six years. [Florida Department of Corrections]
  3. Boynton Beach woman arrested on DUI, child abuse charges

    Criminal

    A Boynton Beach woman was arrested Saturday and faces DUI and child abuse charges after she blew a .200 on a breath test with an unbuckled child in the backseat, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

    Brandy Lerma, 31 of Boynton Beach, was arrested on DUI and child abuse charges on Saturday. [Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Editorial: Why can't Hillsborough commissioners move Confederate monument?

    Editorials

    The violence in Charlottesville, Va., crystallized for much of the nation the danger of refusing to address painful symbols of the past. But not so in Hillsborough County, where the County Commission on Wednesday reversed itself yet again and left open the possibility of leaving a Confederate monument outside the …

  5. Former WTSP employee sues station's parent companies for gender discrimination

    Civil

    A former director at WTSP-Ch. 10 has sued the station's parent companies, claiming she was the victim of gender discrimination.