Last month I did a review of the Zomm Wireless Leash Plus, a dongle that works with your iPhone and Bluetooth to find your keys or whatever else you happen to attach the dongle to. Recently, a BiKN (pronounced "beacon") iPhone case and tag showed up at my door from Treehouse Labs. BiKN works similarly to the Zomm, but has a few features that make it a vastly superior solution.
While the Zomm leash is useful, I found the use of the iPhone's Bluetooth to be somewhat of a drain on the battery. The BiKN resolves this issue by providing an external battery pack and built-in electronics. There's a micro-USB cable that is used to charge both the case / battery pack and the included BiKN tags. The tags just need to be charged every few weeks, and I found it convenient to just plug in the BiKN case every night to "top off" the iPhone and BiKN batteries. The iPhone is charged up first, and then the BiKN battery pack is charged. The BiKN battery pack cannot be used to power your iPhone, so it's not a substitute for an external battery pack like a Mophie Juice Pack.
The system is meant to be colorful, although my review setup was strictly black and white. When purchasing a BiKN system, you start by choosing the base color of black or white. Next, you select one of six different highlight colors (that was the white on my case). Then you select the base color for your tags (black or white), and finally pick a color for the highlight on the tag -- that's the part that has the loop you use to connect the tag to a keychain, a dog collar, your child's belt, or whatever else you need to find.
A starter kit with the case and one tag currently costs US$99.99 (regularly $104.98), while a kit with two tags runs $119.99 (regularly $129.97). Extra tags cost $49.99 for two. What's fascinating is that tags can be used to find other tags, and your "network" of BiKN tags and cases can have up to 8 devices. BiKN says that an app upgrade coming soon will increase that number to 254 tags.
Once everything is nicely charged up and the free myBiKN app has been installed on your phone(s), it's time to start having fun. If you've purchased more than one case, it's possible to "join" those cases so that if one person in your household loses track of their iPhone, you can find it with the other. For the tags, you pretty much do the same pairing, but can also give the tag a name and a picture to identify it. I chose to name my tag "backpack" and there's a nice drawing of a backpack included in the app. Had I wanted to, I could have taken a photo of the item connected to the tag.
One thing I liked about the BiKN system is that it kept me up to date on the battery status of the case and tag. When a tag is getting low on charge, you're warned to plug it in soon.
For any of the tags or cases, you have three options: page, leash, and find. Tapping the page button for any selected tags and cases makes the tag or case play a sprightly tune that should help locate the device. If you have a tag but have misplaced your phone, there's a button on the tag that you can push to page the case or any other tags -- pretty handy to get everyone in your family at an outdoor picnic to come to your table to eat.
Leashing is the process of creating a geofence for an item you don't want to misplace. Let's say that I want to make sure that my dog doesn't wander too far away from me or dig its way out of the back yard. I can clip the BiKN tag to the dog's collar, then set up the sensitivity of the myBiKN leashing function. If it's set to "far", the leash can be as long as 50 to 100 feet inside or up to 500 feet outside.
Find is a really cool function. The Zomm leash didn't have a way to tell you how far away you were from the tag or which direction to go -- the BiKN find function gives you an estimate of the distance and really whether you're "hot or cold" in terms of finding the item.
Between the Zomm Wireless Leash Plus and the BiKN, the latter is certainly much more convenient, versatile, and easy to use. The tags are much smaller and less obtrusive, and the two-way capability -- being able to find a phone or another tag with a tag -- is brilliant.
The BiKN system isn't exactly inexpensive, but it's certainly a powerful way to keep tabs on those things that you don't want to lose, such as children, pets, keys, phones, and cameras. Please watch the video below to get an idea of exactly how the BiKN case and tags work.