April 27, 2020

User Friendly — Chipolo

What it is

Chipolo is a line of Bluetooth trackers (think plastic discs or card) connected to a smartphone app that lets you track your belongings and find them (and your phone).

What it is

A series of Bluetooth trackers (think plastic discs or card) connected to a smartphone app that lets you track your belongings and find them (and your phone).

How it works

  • Pair your trackers with the app via Bluetooth, which Chipolo claims offers a range of 10m (optimal) and up to 60m with a clear line of sight between your device and the tracker.
  • Find your belongings by ringing them from the app, or depending on the model, by voice via Google Assistant or Alexa
  • Find your phone by pressing the button found on the tracker
  • Temporarily use your tracker as a camera shutter remote

Who could use this

  • The frazzled and forgetful who misplace their keys, phone or wallet often
  • Those concerned with theft
  • Owners of pets, children or equivalent precious equipment
  • People who take an inordinate number of selfies and group photos anyway.

Options

  • Chips: the familiar circle-shaped tag you see in the picture that are water resistant
  • Cards: 2.15 mm-thin cards designed for wallets and passports
  • Partner Tags: the Chipolo app handles trackers from partner companies such as Orbitkey’s short “popsicle stick” shaped tracker that goes into its Swiss-army style keychain.

Pros & Cons

  • App can also treat your phone as a tracker so that it shows up on the same map that displays the last locations of your trackers.
  • The chip is available in a choice of colors and has a replaceable generic battery that lasts up to 2 years.
  • The ability to change (but not customize) ringers.
  • The Orbitkey collabo also has a replaceable generic battery (6-month life) and looks unassuming even if it’s not used on the Orbitkey.
  • The ability for the trackers to work in tandem with your phone so if you have your keys with tracker handy, you can double-tap the tracker to ring your phone.
  • Understandably but unfortunately the most valuable tracker (the thin card for wallets) does need to be replaced after about a year. You can trade in old trackers for a 50% discount on the new one. Your old one can then be sent back for recycling for free through their Renew & Recycle program.
  • There were some instances where clicking the tracker wouldn’t ring the phone as intended.
  • There could be more minimalist or customizable widget options with less padding for the home screen. If these were available in a dark mode, that’d be great too.

Should you spend your hard-earned money on this?

  • Eugene: I liked the idea of making a dumb device smart but I simultaneously questioned the need for this. The better answer of whether you need this should probably be “don’t be absent-minded.” I’ve used the tracker to find my phone a few amount of times.Coupled with the fact I live in a small apartment, I think it’s actually a reasonably good thing to have because most people will have larger spaces than what’s the norm in Hong Kong. But don’t get me wrong, this is purely a luxury.I once got ripped a new one by my wife because we spent 15 minutes looking for my keys while we were in a hurry… only to find them hooked via carabiner on my pant loops. The Chipolo could have saved me there.
  • Nate: Like Eugene and thanks to him, I have the Orbitkey version, the card and the chip. Orbitkey for keys, card for wallet and chip for my neckband earphones. So far haven’t encountered any issues and the lost connection alerts work fine (such as when I leave home without my wallet).I’ve always been interested in downgrading the constant handling of a smartphone in my everyday life to just being something that receives, stores and relays information (including music and essential notifications) to wearables instead. I’d be interested to see how Chipolo could be used with automation apps like Tasker to ring my trackers through a smartwatch or the few buttons on my earbuds.Even for those who want it for its intended purposes, I feel the chips with replaceable batteries would be a practical and fairly affordable way to secure different bags of pricier equipment when traveling.

Got comments, suggestions or feedback? We’d love to hear it! Drop us a message through community@maekan.com or our Instagram.

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