On Thursday, Samsung announced plans to launch an upgraded version of the Galaxy SmartTag smart trackers, aptly named SmartTag +, globally on April 16 with a US rollout expected sometime “in the coming weeks.”
These smart trackers attach to your keys, wallet or whatever you often place to help you hunt them down via an app. The design was first popularized by Tiles a few years back, and while rumors have it long circulated that Apple developed a similar device, allegedly called Apple AirTag, Samsung beat them to blows with the announcement of its Bluetooth-powered Galaxy SmartTag in January. At the time, Samsung teased that a version powered by ultra-broadband technology, one of last buzzword in consumer technology, may be on the horizon. And now we finally have a release date.
Per and Samsung press release, SmartTag + will offer support for both UWB and Bluetooth Low Energy, a variant of traditional Bluetooth that does not drain as much battery power and is already included in the original SmartTag. SmartTag + is a little more expensive than its predecessor at $ 39.99 against the SmartTag price tag of $ 29.99.
In addition to being able to clarify Your Lost Objects, the enhanced spatial awareness functionality offered by SmartTag +’s UWB technology, means that it can use augmented reality to visually guide users to lost tokens using the smartphone camera if they have a UWB-equipped smartphone. You can also choose to make the tracker sound with a ring as you get closer to the location, or get other users to join your search via a feature similar to “Community Finds” network announced for Tiles upcoming UWB-powered tracker. Your location data is still protected, Samsung on Thursday:
“All data in SmartThings Find is encrypted and protected, so the location of the mark is not disclosed to anyone but you.”
You can see an example of how AR function for SmartTag + works in the graphic below. (It reminds me a bit of that bit in Toy Story where Mrs. Potato Head loses an eye under the sofa, but since it is removable and what not, she can still see through it).
Like Bluetooth, UWB lets tech devices in a specific area talk to each other, but what sets it apart is its superior ability to find exact locations and broadcast data with minimal interference. It does this by transmitting data over a wider frequency than wireless “narrowband” technology, with the disadvantage that it suffers from a shorter total range. Technology has existed for decades, but it’s only recently that UWB chips have become cheap enough and small enough for companies to justify filling them in smartphones and other consumer gadgets.
This year is going to be a big one for UWB with both Tiles and apple reportedly worked with UWB-powered trackers.