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Always misplacing keys, wallet? Lost and found apps may help

By Natasha Baker

TORONTO (Reuters) - Finding misplaced keys, wallets and purses could get easier with new apps that take the guess work out of trying to remember where they might be.

Tile, an app for iPhones, can track wallets, cars and even pets with small battery-powered plastic tags that show where the lost item is on a map on the smartphone and emit a noise to locate it more easily.

“With all of the technology around us, it’s still crazy to think that we still lose our things,” said Nick Evans, chief executive office of Tile, based in San Mateo, California.

Using bluetooth technology the app tracks the location of the missing item within up 50 to 100 feet (15 to 30 meters). If it is lost outside the range, its last location will be displayed.

The app also uses crowdsourcing so if other Tile app users come within range of a lost item the location is updated for the owner.

"Other people in the community never see that your stuff is missing, but the app tracks the location so that you know where it is," Evans explained.

The Chipolo app for iPhone and Android devices works in a similar way with tags that can be placed on necklaces, bracelets, key chains or attached to items. Users can also set notifications to get an alert when an item goes out of range.

"In Japan, some of our Chipolo users are attaching them to their kids so that when their kids are in the playground they will be notified if they go out of range,” said Tadej Jevsevar, a co-founder of Chipolo, which is based in Slovenia.

If someone loses the smartphone, shaking the Chipolo tag can help them find it by making the phone ring, even if it is in silent mode, according to Jevsevar.

Both apps are free and available worldwide. Each waterproof Tile tag costs $19.99. The Chipolo tag sells for $29.99 and has a replaceable battery.

Aapo Markkanen, a principal analyst at the market intelligence firm ABI Research in London, said although the apps are useful, the tags to trace the lost items are too big and clumsy.

“The stuff that goes missing is usually small. It will become more appealing when it becomes less intrusive and sizeable,” he explained about the tabs that measure about 37 mm (1.4 inches)

(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Andrew Hay)

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