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Featured Review: XY Find It Bluetooth Smart Beacon

February 24, 2015 - Written By Nick Sutrich

Don’t you hate it when you lose your keys?  How about your wallet, pet or something else important?  What if you could get a little tracking beacon that kept track of objects for you, alerted you when they get left somewhere and help you find it in the process?  That’s the promise behind the XY Find It Bluetooth Smart Beacon, and while it won’t help you out if you lose your mind, it’ll certainly help keep track of those little physical objects that are often lost or misplaced.  Using your bluetooth-enabled smartphone and a handy little app the XY Find it will do exactly as the name suggests, all while giving you a neat little interface to work from.

Inside each XY Find It box you’ll find a single hexagonal shaped plastic beacon complete with a lithium battery inside.  Other than that there’s nothing at all in the box, and a little unassuming QR code is on the back for easy downloading of the app onto your phone of choice.  Scanning it took me right to the Play Store entry for the app, making the setup a super simple and painless process.  Setting up the beacon was just as easy, as there was a little yellow pull tab blocking the contact between the battery and the beacon for packaging purposes.  Removing the tab and snapping the beacon back together completed the setup of that.

Adding a beacon is as simple as clicking the giant plus button on the home screen of the app and selecting the beacon to pair with.  Beacons that haven’t been paired are under the unclaimed beacons section, while your beacons are under “my beacons” and other beacons around you not belonging to your person are just labeled as “claimed beacons.” Management of beacons is handled on this main screen and features a name and a picture of your choice, helping you remember one is attached to your keys, one to your wallet and so on.

The overall visual style of the app is nothing short of stunning, with a cool blueish green color marking the entirety of the app’s theme and a hexagonal pattern around matching the shape of the beacon itself.  The left-hand slide-out menu features a fantastic shrinking animation for the main screen and helps complete the beautiful visual style of the app.  Once it gets updated to full Lollipop design language with the tinted status and navigation bars this will easily be one of the most beautiful apps I can think of.  Within the app there’s a full range of settings including settings your own sounds for beacons that go out of range, beacons that are found, etc.

If you’re looking to keep the service run in the background so that beacons can be kept track of you’ll find the option in settings.  This is helpful for something like your wallet that can easily be left behind at home or elsewhere, so once you walk out of Bluetooth range of the beacon you’ll hear an audible tone as well as a vibration letting you know.  Being part of the Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy standard this doesn’t drain your phone’s battery any more than a smartwatch, headset or any other Bluetooth device would.  Whether or not the battery on the beacon itself stands up to the 6-month rating will have to be seen, but I unfortunately haven’t had the product for quite that long at this point.

Tracking your beacon can be done on the homescreen of the app, giving you a quick look at how close the beacon is to your person.  Clicking on the beacon itself will deliver more detailed information including a Google map showing the last place the beacon checked in with the app, as well as a real-time tracking screen that tells you how many feet away the beacon is.  If your beacon seems like it’s 2ft away from you but you still can’t see it you’ll find the beep function to be handy.  Clicking on the beep button does just what it seems like it would; the beacon screeches out a series of beeps to let you audibly identify where your beacon is actually hiding, helping you find it when its made its way underneath those pesky couch cushions.  I found the range to generally be pretty accurate, but given that this is a calculation using Bluetooth it’s not going to be 100% accurate down to the foot, just an estimation of location.

XY Find It Beacons started out as a Kickstarter back in April 2014, but they are now readily available at the manufacturer’s website at xyfindit.com.  Beacons are $24.95 when purchased individually, but are given a discount depending on how many you order down to $14.99 when you order 10 or more.  You can also shop from within the app if you prefer to do it that way, and the beacons come in a range of styles and colors to best suit whatever you’re using them for.  $24.95 is a bit steep for one unit but given the peace of mind you get with such a device it might make that price tag disappear in your mind the first time something as precious as a pet or as necessary as your wallet disappears.