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Phone Halo tracks any gadget's whereabouts

New company Phone Halo is trying to make finding missing gadgets less of an ordeal by using Bluetooth and a keychain-size locater.

Phone Halo's hardware talks to your BlackBerry and lets you know when certain gadgets go outside of the boundaries you set. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

PALM DESERT, Calif.--If you've ever lost your keys, phone, or both at the same time, a new company called Phone Halo has a tool for finding them.

Launching at the DemoSpring conference here, Phone Halo is a $60 gadget that turns your BlackBerry or Android phone into a handheld finder. Unlike some more traditional key finder hardware, however, Phone Halo integrates Bluetooth and GPS to create a tethered radius for your gadgets. So, if one of them goes out the door without the other, you get a message about it back on your phone, or through e-mail and even Twitter.

The hardware itself is a black module about the size of a car alarm dongle that packs a speaker, Bluetooth, and GPS antenna and can be attached to your keys, briefcase, or anything else. When your gadget goes missing, you can just open up the Phone Halo app on your phone, then toggle it to beep. The transmitters also can transmit a beep back to your phone, so you can hit a button on the unit to start ringing your handset. This works even if you have it set to silent, the same way Apple's "Find My iPhone" feature does on MobileMe.

Beyond just the one unit to track a favorite gadget, users can purchase multiple Phone Halos for other things they want to keep tabs on. All can be managed from one phone.

The inclusion of Twitter is an oddity, though as Phone Halo COO Christian Smith explained to CNET, it can be a last-ditch effort to get your friends to help find your stuff. This is less important if you left something at work, or at your house, and more for the times when you've left something somewhere while on the go. In cases like this, the gadget is unable to beam its location to the Web. Instead, the gadget's last known location--in relation to where your phone was to it--is shown on a Google Map.

The device is shipping now, and works with The BlackBerry Curve, Pearl, Tour, Bold, and 8800. Android users will need either a Droid or a Nexus One. Below is a video of how it works.