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. Toddler, 1, drowns in spa at birthday party in Trinity

    Accidents

    TRINITY — A toddler drowned at a birthday party Saturday evening and died at the hospital, authorities say, after his parents found him in a spa.

  2. Review: Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald team up to cool down the Clearwater Jazz Holiday

    Blogs

    A cool breeze swept through Coachman Park Saturday night. Couple of them, actually.

    Kenny Loggins performed at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday on Oct. 21, 2017.
  3. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start

    College

    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103
  4. Lightning buries Penguins (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Ryan Callahan spent a lot of time last season rehabilitating his injured hip alongside Steven Stamkos, who was rehabbing a knee after season-ending surgery. During those hours, Callahan noticed two things about Stamkos: his hunger and his excitement to return this season.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek (29) advances the puck through the neutral zone during the first period of Saturday???‚??„?s (10/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  5. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy

    World

    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.