Gecko: Indian innovation poised to disrupt field of wireless locators and smart tags

14th July 2014
Gecko: Indian innovation  poised to disrupt   field of wireless locators and smart tags
The Gecko Smart Tag will soon be available in India

By Anand Parthasarathy
Bangalore, July 14, 2014: How often do we misplace  personal items like  phones, spectacles, a TV remote or a USB data stick   and say: 'I wish it would me know where it has gone!" This is no more wishful thinking. A whole family of tiny devices are available  which you can attach to such objects on a key chain or as a sticker -- and they will  use bluetooth to  send out a beep or tell you where they are, in other wireless ways.
In its simplest form it  costs  less than  Rs 500 and can be found on Indian online retail sites like Naaptol, if you search for "Keychain whistle locators".  You  string the device on the chain provided,  to your specs, say, and when it is misplaced, you just whistle or make a similar noise. The device will beep in reply -- telling you where it is --  as long as it is less than 7-10 metres away.
In recent months the technology has  been refined:  the  market leader in the US  is something called   a Tile, a small  stamp-sized waterproof  piece of plastic which you attach to stuff that you tend to lose.  You can activate  ip to 20 of these and attach them to things like laptops or  tablets or even bikes -- so that they start beeping if somebody  - a thief say -- moves them. You control the Tiles from an app on your mobile phone and it will  give off beeps that get louder as you get closer.  Tiles cost around $ 20 each . There is a competing make called  EZ-find which  also comes in models which you can use to track  pets. And frequent travelers are using  airline-approved tags  on their checke- in baggage so that they can  recover them fast from  the belts on arrival
Indian challenger
Now it looks like the most   mature product in this space may come from Indian brains: Engineers at Bangalore-based  Connovate Technology have created  a sticky tag called 'Gecko'  which houses a chip, a tiny battery, an accelerometer to  sense movement,  LED flashing lights and a buzzer. You can tag  your front door to warn if it is opened by an intruder, you can even tag a crawling baby to ensure it does wander away.
But the real beauty of Gecko is that it works in reverse: you can use it as  a hand held gesture device to send instructions to your phone to  start playing music -- or even to switch on the camera remotely,  while you get into the shot.  The uses are limited only by one's imagination.
Gecko was crowd-funded    by generous   backers worldwide who pitched in more than $100,000 to help productionise it.  These backers are now getting the first units  while  the public can pre-book their orders at, by month end, Connovate  founder Bahubali Shete informs us.  Meanwhile tech sites are raving about Gecko, with one -- TechCrunch -- calling  it "One small step for the Internet of Things, one  huge  leap for  your smartphone."

For a few days, we have a  video intro to Gecko in our Tech Video spot on the home page