Smart Luggage Tracker Technology
There are a few different technologies to consider when looking at smart luggage trackers and they are:
- Mobile networks (GSM)
Most luggage trackers use one or two of these technologies and they each have their pros and cons.
Let’s take a look at each one so you know what to be on the lookout for.
GPS Luggage Trackers
GPS luggage trackers might seem one of the best options because they include a GPS chip and can be tracked anywhere in the world.
GPS works almost anywhere and is incredibly accurate, but it does have a downside – it can be blocked quite easily by natural objects (trees, mountains etc) and also by buildings.
And this is where the major disadvantage of GPS luggage trackers comes in…
When you need your tracker to work you are probably standing in the airport terminal wondering where your luggage is.
So, you are in a building. And, unfortunately, you might not be able to track your luggage because of poor GPS coverage!
The upside is that GPS is not dependent on any local technology (ie. whether your tracker works in the country you are in) or on proximity (like with Bluetooth – more on that below).
Mobile/GSM Luggage Trackers
Mobile or GSM luggage trackers get around the GPS coverage problem by using the local mobile network to help track your luggage.
The same way the FBI can pinpoint a criminal via cell towers (triangulation), these devices can be found when they are in the range of mobile towers.
And, it will work inside the airport terminal – just like your phone does!
The downside is that the country you are in has to support the SIM chip in the device (usually a GSM-based chip).
Currently two countries that don’t support GSM are:
- South Korea
The rest of the world should not be a problem!
Some trackers use only these technologies or use them in combination with Mobile to try to give you more options and accuracy.
Bluetooth typically only works within 30 meters (100 feet) of your phone, although some devices have ways to boost this.
So this is a great option when you are close to your luggage but trying to pinpoint it. When GSM or GPS is not accurate enough, this is a great addition.
However, most Bluetooth trackers are only that, and are really meant to be used at home to find your phone or lost keys. I would not use them alone to keep track of my luggage!
How Do Luggage Trackers Actually Work?
Depending on which of the three main technologies your tracker has, they all operate a little differently. In most cases though, they are meant to be used in combo with a tracker specific app on your phone so you can track them on an app.
The accuracy of the location depends on the tech used and in the case of Bluetooth, how close you are to the tracker.
GSM trackers use mobile towers to locate the device, so are not super accurate.
GPS trackers are far more accurate (with GPS being capable of insane accuracy) but it depends on the software and tech involved.
Other Options (Not Really)
Yes, there are other products and options on the market, but from what I have been able to find, nothing really worth adding to this review since I wrote it a year ago (today is April 2018).
Various companies have come out with trackers, but there are too many bad reviews – Victorinox & 1st Anti-Theft Tracker. I am surprised that Victorinox was unable to come up with something good as they are well-known here (in Switzerland where I am) and around the world for their quality knives and products.
I have even reviewed one of their suitcases and passport wallets before.
You could also try something like a GPS tracker that is not specifically designed for luggage tracking. They are relatively cheap and do the job, they just don’t have the extra features like proximity tracking (Bluetooth) and Airplane mode to put it to sleep until you land.
Here is an example, the LOC8ING:
There are also tags like the DynoTag, but that is not the same thing. It is not connected to the web/GPS – instead, it requires someone to find your bag, scan the code, and then you can see where it is online. So, not really a luggage tracker.
At about the same price, the Lugloc and Trakdot are quite similar. However, given the limited battery life and lack of Bluetooth tracking (for closer tracking) for me, the Lugloc is the better bet.
Both these devices are only meant to keep approximate track of your luggage and not follow it like the FBI in the movies. Keep that in mind. We are still not quite at that level of technology.
However, for simple peace of mind, especially when dealing with lost luggage or expensive items (golf clubs, ski bags, etc) it might be worth the investment. And, you can always throw in a Tile to give you a little more security using their Bluetooth app!
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