Have you ever left your iPhone somewhere? I had this happen to me back in 2008 when my iPhone accidentally slipped out of my pocket as I was getting off of an airplane. By the time I realized the phone was gone, someone else had already picked it up. This was in the pre-Find My iPhone days, so I have no idea where the phone ended up. If the Zomm Wireless Leash Plus (US$89.99) had been around just four years ago, I would have been alerted that I was walking away from my iPhone.
The Wireless Leash Plus is a small round Bluetooth device that not only warns you when you're leaving your iPhone behind, but can be used to find your keys or anything else valuable that you attach the Leash to. That's not all -- it can also be the center of a hands-free kit for your car, as well as a tiny one-touch emergency call button. Read on for full details on how this clever device can keep you in touch with physical items in your life.
The Wireless Leash Plus is tiny, about 1.62 inches in diameter and about a half-inch thick. Around the perimeter are three white areas that contain bright flashing LEDs, a micro-USB port for charging the Leash, and a metal loop for attaching the Leash to a keychain or neck strap.
Out of the box, the Wireless Leash can be charged through the micro-USB port in about 4 hours. According to Zomm, that will power the Leash for up to six days of standby use or two hours of use as a speakerphone. The device tells you when the battery needs charging by literally speaking "Battery Low."
Once the Leash is charged, you need to download a small Mac app (there's also a Windows version) that is used to set the initial configuration of the device. With the Leash paired up via Bluetooth, you can set an emergency phone number (the default is 911) and set the initial volume of the various alerts.
Now it's time to pair the Wireless Leash Plus to your iPhone. It's fairly easy -- you just press the one and only button on the Leash (the Z button) for 6 seconds until the lights all begin flashing, and then it becomes visible in Settings > General > Bluetooth. The Leash pairs with your iPhone, and you're ready to roll. Note that if you turn off Bluetooth, an alert shows up in Notification Center telling you that your Wireless Leash Plus is no longer attached, and the device itself begins beeping.
The first thing your iPhone will do once it is paired with a Leash is prompt you to download and install the MyZomm app (free). The app has several functions, including allowing you to find the Leash -- extremely helpful if you have it attached to your keychain and have lost your keys -- and geotagging things like your car's location.
After pairing was complete, I left my iPhone on my desk and went for a walk. Once I was about 30 feet away from the iPhone, the Leash started vibrating and flashing its LEDs. After a short while, it began beeping, and a few seconds later the volume of the beep cranked up. Let's face it -- the Leash is definitely going to get your attention. It works the other way around, too. If you have your iPhone with you and leave your keys somewhere, the Leash will start beeping.
If you're in a situation where you want people to pay attention to you -- for example, if you're walking down a dark street and someone is following you -- just hold down on the Z button for about nine seconds and it lets out a piercing siren tone. The panic button sound is easy to turn off, and will hopefully scare off any would-be muggers.
I also tried the "Find" function of the app, which was quite useful. Tapping the Find button in the app forces the Leash to emit a loud sonar sound, flash its LEDs, and vibrate. Trust me, you'll find the Leash very quickly if it is within earshot. To turn off any of the alarms, you can tap the Z button.
One other note: if you wish, you can "connect" other Wireless Leashes to your iPhone for other easily misplaced or stolen devices. For example, attach a Wireless Leash to your computer bag so it's not left behind or stolen at the coffee shop. You can run the MyZomm app on your iPad if you wish to keep it safe instead of your iPhone.
It's not often that I'm able to review an accessory that has an accessory. In this case, the Zomm Wireless Leash has the $39.99 Safe Driving Kit that includes a Visor Clip, a Low-Profile USB charger and micro-USB cable for in-car charging, and another quick release keychain. The idea here is that you'll get into your car, put the key into the ignition, release the Leash from the keychain and place it into the Visor Clip, and then use the device as a hands-free kit.
How does it work? When a call is coming into your iPhone, you tap the Z button once to redirect the call to the Leash speaker. To reject a call and send it to voice mail, you tap the Z button twice. That also works to end a call. The Leash speaker is loud; volume is controlled from your iPhone, which means that you'll want to adjust the volume before you start driving.
One feature I wish the Zomm folks had worked into the device was a way of using it to dial the iPhone through Voice Control. I can do this with many other Bluetooth devices, and it seems odd that there's no way to tap the Z button twice or something similar to get Voice Control to respond.
In the near future, Zomm will be introducing a "Personal Safety Concierge" service. Like those "I've fallen and I can't get up" buttons you've seen on TV, this service uses the Leash or a new Lifestyle Connect fob and a mobile phone. An elderly or mobility-impaired relative can simply push the Leash button three times to contact a trained responder who directs the call to emergency services or another contact.
Zomm has come up with a slick product that fills a need for almost everyone. If you haven't already lost your keys or your iPhone, you most likely will at some point. At least the Wireless Leash Plus will warn you before you're too far away from either your phone or keychain. I also like the fact that the product can have functionality added to it in the form of the hands-free kit and the Personal Safety Concierge kit.
If there's one negative I can think of, it's the price. On the other hand, if you lose your keys or your iPhone, you're going to spend a lot more money. My loss of an iPhone 3G in 2008 cost me about $500, since my AT&T contract wasn't yet finished, and when I lost my car and house keys back in my youth, it cost me about the same amount to replace the keys and change the house locks.
One other "cost" you should consider is reduced battery life on your iPhone. It will be actively communicating with the Wireless Leash Plus all the time, unless you either turn off the phone or the Leash.
For the forgetful geek in all of us, Zomm's Wireless Leash Plus is an unique and unobtrusive iPhone accessory that can keep your valuables safe.