Chances are either you or someone you know has misplaced their keys, bag, coat, iPhone, or some other item (and probably more than once). This can get quite frustrating, especially if the item is never recovered. Yes, our iPhones now have “Find My Phone” from Apple, but this is only effective if the misplaced iPhone is on, has some juice left in the battery, has decent cellular signal, and a GPS lock. If any one of these prerequisites is not met, the “Find My Phone” system is rendered useless. Furthermore, you might not notice that your iPhone or other item is missing until the short timeframe of a likely recovery has long past.
The BiKN wireless smart case for the iPhone 4 & 4S and wireless tags seek to remedy the inconvenience of losing your personal property in more ways than one. The most effective mode, “Leash,” will keep you from losing your precious gear in the first place. When in leash mode, your iPhone will alert you as soon as it gets out of range of a single selected wireless BiKN tag. This really comes in handy for those people who tend to forget their phones at restaurants or similar places. Users can select a signal sensitivity range between 1%-100% with a slider control also labeled “Far – Near” in the free iPhone app. This ability to be alerted based on signal strength really comes in handy for items you don’t want to forget, while allowing you to be able to set it down and walk a little ways away from it without sirens going off just because you went a few feet away.
A feature I would like to see added to the BiKN app would be for the iPhones GPS location be automatically saved each time a tag goes out of range. This way, if you don’t notice the “Leash” alert right away, you will have a record of where the item was lost. Then you can return to the last known position to begin your search.
My favorite mode is the “Find” mode. It allows you to track down individual tags with signal strength and estimated distance meter. This is really cool since it allows you to visualize if you are getting closer or further away from the missing tag. An improvement for this mode would be to utilize the iPhone map to paint shades of green, yellow, and red onto the map based on the signal strength. This could greatly improve the search process.
If you need to locate all your devices simultaneously, then the “Page” mode will do the trick. Just select the items you want to locate, and hit the “Page” button. One by one, each tag will be paged and begin to beep and blink.
During my tests, I found that when used outside without any obstructions, a maximum possible range of 504 feet is achievable. I then tested the BiKN indoors with multiple obstructions simultaneously. They included being packed into a backpack while surrounded by various objects such as: several Bluetooth devices, two wireless keyboards, ham radio, handful of USB cables, solar battery pack, a ham radio and various other odds and ends. All electronics devices were on during the test in an attempt to induce interference. Even with all those obstructions, I was able to receive the signal from the BiKN tag through several walls at a range of about 60 feet.
The BiKN iPhone case is quite slim and has its own internal battery, keeping it from sapping power from your iPhone. This means the phone could be dead or outside of cell service but still findable as long as the case has a charge.. This battery is capable of operating for a week or two without recharge depending on how heavily you use it. This is something most users will never have to worry about since the micro USB port of the case simultaneously charges the iPhone as well as the case’s internal battery. Unfortunately, the battery in the BiKN case is not able to recharge the iPhone like many other cases on the market. Having this capability would have been a very nice added bonus for this product.
The battery in the BiKN wireless tag also is able to last a week or two depending on amount of use. These little tags are quite effective, and you can have up to 8 of them paired with the case and iPhone app. It would have been nice if they could have been small enough to slip inside a wallet. They have both the ability to blink and beep to help users locate them. The body of the tag can come in white or black. The removable keychain/lanyard loop that hides the micro USB recharging port comes in black, grey, white, green, blue, and purple. Each tag also has a button that, when pushed, will trigger all other tags in the area as well as the iPhone case to start beeping and blinking. Unfortunately, the iPhone case does not have any LEDs on it, so tracking it visually in the dark or keeping track of the charge level isn’t an option.
I did encounter a few problems while testing this product. On several occasions, the BiKN case failed to be recognized by its corresponding iPhone app. The only way I could find to remedy this was to disconnect the case from the iPhone and reconnect it. This gets pretty frustrating after a few times. The other issue I encountered was fairly strange. Several times now, the BiKN case has crippled all of my iPhones audio output. This includes any music or system sounds. It doesn’t happen on a regular basis, but when it does happen, it means I could potentially miss an important notification. Again, the temporary solution is to disconnect the case from the iPhone then reconnect it. With any luck, these problems will be fixed with a firmware and app update.
Currently, the BiKN system is only compatible with the iPhone 4 and 4S. With any luck, sometime soon they will release a product that is compatible with newer iPhones. Better yet, it will be improved with a much longer range and universally compatible Wi-Fi version, with each tag containing a GPS to give the user its precise location. If it were to have Wi-Fi, then each tag could attempt to connect to any nearby open Wi-Fi hotspots to report its position to its owner.
I really liked how BiKN chose to use lithium batteries that can be recharged from USB cables. So many other iPhone key finder devices use disposable batteries, which translates to more waste and more money the user has to spend to keep their device up and running. I also found the long range of the BiKN to have much better performance than any of the various similar Bluetooth systems I have tried. As far as being a protective case goes, the BiKN does ok. However it could use significant improvement at protecting the iPhone screen. I recommend using a tempered glass screen protector with this case.
If you frequently misplace your iPhone and/or other important/valuable items, then the BiKN item tracking system is quite possibly the best option out there. It doesn’t have a costly monthly subscription, cellular coverage dependency, silly short-range Bluetooth, or run on environmentally unfriendly button cell batteries like most of the competition. It’s definitely worth checking out.
Made in USA
Price: $65 – $130
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