Peer-to-peer IoT networks track your assets

Peer-to-peer IoT networks track your assets

Technology News |
By Julien Happich

A plethora of Bluetooth trackers promise users they’ll never lose a thing again, or at least that they’ll be quick to find their lost items thanks to slim Bluetooth tags paired to their smartphone. Some Bluetooth tags even tap into cloud-based applications to crowdsource a tag’s GPS location, by leveraging the proximity of other smartphone users (having adopted the same application) to locate the lost item and share back the data via the cloud.

Such peer-to-peer IoT networks only become effective at returning useful data when a service is massively adopted by end-users, by-passing the need for dedicated subscription-based IoT networks or GPS-enabled tags (whose data is typically shared for a monthly fee).

With over 1.5 million TrackR devices shipped since its 6331% funded Indiegogo campaign in 2014 (raising $1,724,829), TrackR’s President and Co-Founder Christian Smith is confident about coverage.

“With tens of thousands of active users, we’ve got the largest Crowd GPS network running” he told eeNews Europe. With our current user base, you can find your tagged items 24/7 in most metropolitan cities”, he said.

The company offers various TrackR tags catering for different applications, including the 3.5mm thin TrackR bravo (31mm in diameter and operating up to a year on a replaceable CR1616 battery), the TrackR wallet (slightly larger but with a two-year battery life), and the TrackR sticker 25mm in diameter and 5mm thick, that will stick to your assets.

And the network is about to expand. TrackR is talking to consumer good manufacturing companies so they embed the Bluetooth tracker module and software into their goods, boasting the number of users relying on its TrackR application.

“HP is about to embed trackers into one million laptop backpacks, and Cross is looking at embedding a tracker capability into its luxury pens”, Smith said.

Created in 2009, the startup wants to license its reference design and tracking application to as many partners as possible to grow this Crowd GPS network further. The co-founder sees these peer-to-peer IoT networks evolve pretty much in the same way traditional carrier networks do.

“It remains to be seen what the competition landscape will look like in the future, but similarly to traditional telecom networks, smaller players may band together to compete with larger players”. This could mean striking cross network agreements with other brands of tracker devices to share database access at least for the Crowd GPS functionality.

In January last year, the company has differentiated itself from the competition with yet another successful Indiegogo campaign, raising $210,123 for a Wi-Fi-enabled tracker hub that gives users a more granular tracking capability at home. Plugged in power outlets throughout the home or the office, the 48mm long, 38mm diameter TrackR Atlas hubs combine a 70m Wi-Fi range with a 30m Bluetooth 4.0 range to automatically keep track of all Bluetooth trackers, room by room and update the location database via the premises’ Wi-Fi router. TrackR Atlas not only maintains a digital map of the TrackR tags, but also englobes any other Bluetooth trackers from third parties, effectively keeping a tab on all devices.

Then users can query their smartphone by voice (the voice function on the TrackR app is powered by Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service) to receive a room-specific answer. Once in the room, they can ring the tag (TrackR bravo and many other Bluetooth tags integrate a buzzer).

Even remotely, the hub’s Wi-Fi connectivity allows users to ring their tags from anywhere in the world to help roommates or family search for items in the home. Through the smartphone app, users can also set up custom zones and get notifications when items leave a mapped area under the scrutiny of TrackR Atlas. Then again, if a tagged asset leaves the premises, the Crowd GPS network takes over.

With the number of Wi-Fi IoT hubs flourishing to address the smart home market, often combining Wi-Fi with Bluetooth, and traditional Wi-Fi router manufacturers also considering Bluetooth integration to remain at the center of the connected home, isn’t the TrackR Atlas doomed to become redundant at some stage?

Smith admits that endpoint manufacturers could well integrate TrackR’s asset monitoring functionalities in the future. This is also a branch of business where the company sees possible partnerships and licensing revenues, hoping that someday, the tracking cloud services and embedded IP licensing deals could override its hardware sales.

Visit TrackR at


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SoC supports world’s smallest Bluetooth location stickers

Bluetooth beacons nowhere precise enough, says BeSpoon



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