In the past few years we have seen the rise and rise of Internet of Things (IoT). From a technical perspective, IoT are objects that can collect and exchange data based on electronics, software, sensors and network connectivity. TrackR Bravo is an IoT device that leverages crowdsourced GPS (via smart phones) to help the masses track down items that are misplaced, lost or stolen. DigitalReviews undertook a self-funded journey to see how well this execution works.
TrackR Bravo is a small round tag a fraction larger than an (Australian) 20 cent piece with an anodised aluminium construct. It is lightweight, slim and appealing to look at. The smooth finish is broken only by a blue LED indicator.
TrackR provides a small ring to feed through the Trackr Bravo for attaching to keyrings.
To get started, the TrackR app has to be installed from either the Apple Appstore or Google Play. Bluetooth also needs to be enabled on your device for connectivity to happen. Launch the app and it will guide you through the process to associate your TrackR with your phone. The setup is straightforward and works as long as the minimum device compatibility is met: iOS 8+ or Android 4.4+.
When you are within Bluetooth range of the TrackR Bravo, the app will pick up the associated tag and indicate on a map where it is. Pressing the button in the app will cause the tag to ring so you locate your missing item by sound. The app also indicates the distance between you and the TrackR.
Conversely if you have your TrackR but can’t find your phone, pressing on the TrackR’s device button will cause the phone to ring even if it is on silent mode.
The app also allows you to set up a separation alert so if your phone is moving out of range to the TrackR, an alert will sound.
Lastly the TrackR app acts as a crowdsourced GPS network so if another TrackR user is within range of your tag, you receive a GPS update.
In my testing I took a TrackR associated to my partner’s phone to a berry farm an hour out of Melbourne. It successfully pinpointed the location of the device with the TrackR app installed on my phone and Bluetooth enabled.
Additionally with the replaceable battery, the app provides an indication of how much battery life is left. The expected lifespan is 1 year.
The theory of TrackR Bravo is sound and good. The reality is a little different. My list of gripes … where do I start?
I bought 10 TrackR Bravos and shared with 3 friends. Together we are two iPhone users and two Android users. The initial setup wasn’t bad, all the units associated with the respective phones easily enough, aside from the one user who needed to update iOS to a supported version.
The first few days were fine. For me on the Nexus 6p, they worked fine most of the time and was detected by the phone after about 30 seconds. Not bad but not great. A few times I had to restart Bluetooth on my phone but it got there in the end. One of my friends on iOS had the same problem, out of the 3 units he got, there was one that consistently fails to detect unless Bluetooth is restarted. This connectivity problem got worse and worse until the phones no long detect the Bravos.
On at least one unit returned to life after I took out the battery, cleaned it and put it back in. Some of the TrackRs had to be deleted and reassociated with the phones. A few times. Well maybe we did it about a dozen times. Then like tax and death, they inevitably just stop responding altogether.
TrackR support thinks after all the troubleshooting that it may be battery related, but having all 10 units fail within a month of being purchased either means they bought the cheapest and oldest batteries possible or there is a bigger problem. Yes they offered to send me replacement batteries but to be honest, after a couple of weeks of hearing from my friends about how their TrackRs don’t work I was pretty over it. Hell has no fury like a partner who took up a Trackr based on my recommendation. A week before all my units stopped responding to my phone, all my batteries said they were at 100%.
On top of that the ringer volume on the TrackR Bravo is so low that I would be lucky to hear it ring if the TrackR is in my pocket.
Aside from technology issues, a few of us have issues with the TrackR slipping off our keyrings which really defeats the purpose.
Whilst the anodised aluminium casing looks good at the start, the one that has been with my car keys looked a lot worse for wear after only after about a month of use.
I thought the idea of Trackr Bravo is to help me find lost things, rather than making it look for the TrackR manually to find my things. To start with after I ordered the TrackR Bravos, it took almost three weeks for them to be shipped. I can only assumed that some poor sod is digging the earth for aluminum for the casing. The usage experience was disappointing although TrackR support did their best with their scripted responses in the face of my increasing frustration.
I would return them and ask for a refund, but out of the group of four of us who had these units, three of us have lost one unit each and cannot find them. So if the Trackr Bravo worked as advertised, this would not be an issue right? Right now I am short 3 units so I cannot send them back and hope for a refund. Hello, anyone from TrackR reading this?
Ordinarily this is where I put a link to the product and a cost. Given my experience with it, I will leave it up to you to Google the product link (hint: try theTrackr) and take your chances. You can get your frustration in Steel, Black, Rose Gold or Sky Blue along with custom engraving and accessories such as water resistant case and metal carabiner.
As for me, well if I cannot get all the units together for a refund, look out for a slow motion destruction sequence.
Battery Life: Up to 1 year
Battery Type: Replaceable CR1616 Battery
Device Ringer Volume: Up to 85dB
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0 (Bluetooth Low Energy)
– Devices with iOS 8 & up
– Android 4.4 & Later with Bluetooth Low Energy
– Works World Wide