Telstra reckons Australians suck when it comes to losing things. Keys, phones, wallets, dogs, bikes, bags, expensive tools... we can't keep track of stuff, and Telstra is going to use technology to solve the problem.
But unlike other Bluetooth tags, which just pair with your phone, Telstra Locator will rely on an entire "Bluetooth locator community" of Telstra customers using their phones as Bluetooth beacons.
It's kind of like crowdsourcing -- if you opt in to use Telstra Locator through Telstra's 24/7 App, the Bluetooth on your phone will act as a beacon to recognise any tags within roughly 30 metres of your phone. If another person's tag comes within range of your device, the location will be pinged to that person's phone. By opting in, you'll also get to find your things through other people's devices.
It's a similar concept to, which uses public pay phones and home broadband routers to create a public Wi-Fi network for Telstra customers. Opt in to share your connection, and you get access to the whole network. The Telstra Locator network will use these Air connections for Wi-Fi, and Telstra says the network will grow with 6,000 Telstra fleet vehicles and 6,000 taxis across Australia getting added to the network.
There will be three tags to choose from:
Bluetooth tag: About the size of a 50-cent coin and designed for small devices, the tag will have a 12-month battery life and can be picked up when in Bluetooth range of a Telstra device.
Rechargeable Wi-Fi tag: For things like pets, bags and bikes, this slightly larger tag has a four to six week battery life and uses both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for location.
LTE tag: Due to launch in 2019, the LTE tag will use Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and a cellular connection. Telstra is billing this pocket-sized tag as a device for valuable items.
Telstra hasn't announced pricing yet, but it will work as a subscription service for postpaid customers -- the idea being you pay a monthly fee on top of your mobile bill and get a couple of tags included and access to the whole Bluetooth locator network.
And it's not just for mobile customers. Telstra plans on using the same concept to help businesses track things like vehicle fleets, shipping containers and even crates of fresh food getting shipped across Australia.
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