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Gadgets help users find their lost items

Posted March 10, 2014 6:06 p.m. EDT
Updated March 11, 2014 12:33 p.m. EDT

Three new gadgets aim to help people who've ever asked the question, "Where'd I put my keys?"

Consumer Reports tested the devices that promise to help people track down small items like car keys, wallets, phones, even remotes – for an extra cost. 

Most of the gadgets use a tag that attaches to the item being tracked. When you want to find it, a downloadable mobile app sends a Bluetooth signal from your phone to the tag.

To find lost keys, for example, you touch a button in the app and follow the buzz or beep to the missing item. Usually, the missing item must be within 30 feet of the signal in order to work. 

Here are some details about the StickNFind, BiKN and Cobra Tags devices:

Find Your Stuff's $25 StickNFind tags adhere to flat surfaces, such as the back of a phone, or to an included "dog tag" that is attached to the item. The device also shows an item's relative distance to the locater. The drawback: It sometimes took up to two minutes for the locator to get a signal, even when the stickered item was next to the sensor.

With BiKN, the signal is sent between a phone case and tag. The case can be synched with up to eight tagged items and is capable of "reverse finding" – you press a button on the tag, and it helps locate your phone. Like the StickNFind system, the app displays the distance to the lost item. While BiKN is faster than StickNFind, it costs $100 and is available only for the iPhone 4 and  4S.

The third device is the Cobra Tag. Like BiKN, it can find items in reverse – as long as your phone is on, it'll ring – but it works with more devices. The tags show the signal strength instead of the item's location, and the devices will also send an alert if you leave the house without a tagged item or your phone. Cobra Tags cost $40 each.