Many people, myself included, usually park their cars in vast parking lots on a daily basis and as a result of that tend to have to fight for a parking spot nearly every day. Because of that fact, many of us simply forget where we parked, either because of the stresses of the day or simply because we always park in a different spot every day. According to market research, people lose their cars nearly a million times a day while leaving places like grocery stores, malls, movie theaters and stadiums.
Recently, I have forgotten where I parked almost half a dozen times in the past week. As a result of this, I spent almost 45 minutes looking for my car in total. This reminded me of the fact that it would be really nice to have a device that would point me to where my car is without having to look for it and be embarrassed walking around aimlessly looking for it. Our own Ed-in-chief once spent two hours at SFO [San Francisco International] in a jet-lagged state of mind looking for his car at parking lot A instead of G.
A promising new product has come to market that solves this problem in a simple way. This product is called the Auto-Finder [YouTube video - if that actor had such nails, I bet his partner would look a bit different, Ed.] and what it does is quite simple. It is composed of two parts, the pointer remote and the beacon. The pointer remote, as you might have guessed, points you to the beacon which would be installed in your car. The way the pointer works is that it has three LEDs that indicate the direction of the beacon which then directs you towards your car. Since both products are battery operated, these devices do need to get their batteries replaced, but fortunately they only need to be replaced every six months under normal use. For optimal reception, Finder Technologies decided to go with dual omnidirectional antennas on the beacon and dual PCB trace antennas on the pointer to keep a low profile. In addition to that, multiple fynders [Finder?s trademarked term for the finder device] and beacons can be used for multiple cars, supporting up to 5 vehicles and drivers.
At rest, the beacon is in a very low power consumption intermittent receiving mode waiting for a signal from the pointer remote, and the pointer remote is completely powered down. When a user wants to locate his vehicle, he presses the Locate button on the pointer remote, which initiates transmissions to the beacon. When the beacon receives a signal from the pointer, it confirms that the Pointer Remote serial number is one that has been paired with it and starts transmitting information back to the Pointer Remote. When the Pointer Remote starts receiving this information, it stops transmitting and falls into its direction reporting mode until the activation button is released. The maximum range of this device is ½ a mile which should suffice in most situations when looking for your car. We were told that these findings had also been confirmed by a third party and that under perfect conditions the range could potentially be even further.
The Pointer Remote also uses a proprietary methodology for determining the relative strength of the signal received by the two custom, patented antennas inside the Pointer Remote. The Pointer Remote then generates a tone that is proportional to the relative direction – if the Pointer Remote is pointed towards the Beacon and is relatively close, the tone is high pitched and fast and more LED arrows on the pointer are lit. As the Pointer Remote is pointed away from the and/or moved further away in distance, the frequency and the interval of the tones decrease and fewer LEDs are lit.
Since this is a wireless technology, it has to use some form of wave communication. In this situation it uses radio wave signals which operate between the 2405 and 2480 MHz frequencies which put it in the commonplace 2.4GHz consumer spectrums used by various devices which may cause interference with 2.4GHz devices and visa versa. We contacted Finder Technologies and they said that they had tested it around various 2.4GHz devices such as phones, Wi-Fi devices and Bluetooth devices with no issues.
As for the price, looking on their site the price is $99.95 which, to us seems just a bit expensive for such a product? but considering that this is a startup company we can only imagine that as time goes by we can expect these prices to drop further. We believe that if they can bring down the price of a single driver and single vehicle package below $75, they may have a huge hit. The biggest problem for Finder Technologies is really figuring out how much people are willing to pay for what they bill as safety and security as well as prevention from being embarrassed. To be quite honest, depending on the volume of the finder device it could be more embarrassing to be seen walking around with a loudly beeping remote. So it may be good to have the ability to turn off the audible beeping. But on a personal note, I can definitely attest to the fact that I have lost my car multiple times and have wasted quite a bit of time looking for my car, even at one point believing it had been stolen. We would definitely like to give this product a try and see whether or not their claims stack up and whether or not this device is really usable and user friendly.