BlueWatchDog Review: Security for your bag

Surprisingly, there are limits to my geekosity: I simply cannot abide by holsters. You may believe there is little difference in the nerdiness of holsters versus a manbag, but me and my Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home would beg to differ. My bag goes everywhere with me, faithfully carrying my camera, headphones, leatherman, and Moleskine.

Being an indentured servant to geek fashion comes at a cost. More than once I have felt the creeping dread brought about by the lack of reassuring weight on my shoulder. I stop and spin on the spot – often on a busy sidewalk – the camera spins with me, whirling faster and faster, creating a sense of disorientation. The music swells, and then stops, zooming in on my face. “Noooooooooo!” he screams, fist clenched.

Yes, I’ve left my bag behind before. So far, every time I’ve gone back to the spot and sheepishly found my bag under a chair. One day I might not be so lucky.

Bags of Security

Enter BlueWatchDog (imported locally by Mi5 Technologies), which is – perhaps ironically – neither blue, nor canine. It is however about the size of three credit cards stacked together. It has a button and some lights, and is designed to be paired to your phone and placed in your bag. If your phone and bag are separated by more than a few metres, the BlueWatchDog springs into action.

You’ll first get a warning on your phone, both vibrating and audible. If you fail to notice this, or you are unable to close the distance between phone and bag, the BlueWatchDog will emit a rather loud siren. It’s not quite ear-splitting, but it is surprisingly loud for the size of the device. Definitely louder than any cellphone ringtone I’ve ever heard. I can’t imagine ever losing my bag again with the BlueWatchDog in action.

It is not entirely without fault. The most glaring issue is software compatibility. The device relies on software installed on one’s phone. At the time of writing, there is no such software available for my iPhone, but I’m told this will be available very early in 2010.

Most other phones are supported via a mobile Java application, but you wouldn’t think so based on the SMS compatibility test. This ignorant automaton repeatedly told me that my wife’s Sony Ericsson c510 was incompatible. Being a belligerent geek, I forcibly downloaded the jar file from the manufacturer’s website and installed it on the phone. Once I’d performed the correct rituals, the application started and worked perfectly.

When running, the application provides the ability to both monitor and locate your bag. The “locate” option causes the BlueWatchDog’s alarm to sound briefly, allowing you to home in on its location. The “alert” function will optionally vibrate and bleep your phone to warn you that the bag is about to be out of range.

Verdict

An interesting product that is well executed from a hardware perspective, if slightly let down by installation and compatibility. If you’re a geek that lives in his bag, or perhaps a camera user with thousands of dollars of gear in a bag, then investing $129 in a BlueWatchDog might be worthwhile. I would however check compatibility by installing the application on your phone before purchasing.

You can buy a BlueWatchDog online from Mi5 Technologies.

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5 Comments

  1. Interesting idea. How intrusive is the alarm? I can imagine the number of false alarms (e.g. walking away from your desk during the day) could be quite high to start off with.

  2. Oh, I love the company name: MI5 Tech. Because the MI5 over here (UK) has a habit of leaving stuff like USB keys and laptops with unencrypted data on trains, in rental cars, on the roof of the car etc.

    🙂

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