On Thursday, Samsung announced plans to launch an upgraded version of its Galaxy SmartTag smart trackers, aptly named SmartTag +, globally on April 16 with an expected rollout in the US sometime “in the coming weeks.”
These smart trackers are attached to your keys, wallet or whatever you often misplace to help you chase them via an app. The design was first popularized by Tile a few years back and while rumors have done so long circulated about Apple developing a similar device, reportedly called the 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 the latest buzzwords in consumer technology, could 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. The SmartTag + is a bit more expensive than its predecessor at $ 39.99 compared to the SmartTags price of $ 29.99.
In addition to being able to locate more accurately your lost items, the enhanced spatial awareness functionality provided by SmartTag +’s UWB technology means it can use augmented reality to visually guide users to lost tokens using their 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 its location, or get other users to join your search via a feature similar to “Community find” network announced for Tiles upcoming UWB powered tracker. However, your location data remains protected, Samsung said Thursday:
“All data in SmartThings Find is encrypted and protected so that the location of the roof is not revealed 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’s head loses an eye under the sofa, but since it is removable and what is not, she can still see through it).
Like Bluetooth, UWB lets tech devices in a particular area talk to each other, but what sets it apart is its superior ability to locate exact locations and transmit data with minimal interference. It does this by transmitting data over a wider frequency than wireless “narrowband” technology, where the downside is that it suffers from a shorter overall range. Technology has has been around for decades, but it is only recently that UWB chips have become cheap enough and small enough for businesses to justify filling them in smartphones and other consumer gadgets.
This year is going to be a big one for UWB with both Tile and apple reportedly working on UWB-powered trackers.