Privacy in the United States and across the world is a big issue. Yet, we are so willing to install devices like an Amazon Echo or an internet-capable IP camera. Some of the most popular smart-tech gifts the past couple years are bluetooth keychain trackers such as the Tile Mate, Tile Slim, and the TrackR. We recently reviewed the new Tile Sport series.
All of these products send out signals that ping your location and that can be concerning. A new app called Crowd GPS Scanner is designed to help you figure out if your being tracked by one of these bluetooth keychain trackers. It’s important to note that the danger isn’t in purchasing one of these devices for their intended use. Don’t be scared to buy one or continuing to use yours!
The danger that Crowd GPS Scanner is designed to address is someone dropping one in your bag to track you.
Are GPS Keychain Trackers Safe?
Here’s an example: If someone wanted to track your movements, they could simply put a Tile in your bag. This Tile is connected to the app on the person’s phone, too. As you travel around, the Tile could ping other people with Tiles in the area and update your location on the app. The person viewing the app would then know your location.
Crowd GPS Scanner helps by letting you know if you are being tracked by one of these two GPS keychain trackers. There is a “Detect” button on the app that pings all Tile and Tracks devices within a 30ft. range. If one device continues to show up as you walk around town, there is a chance you could be tracked.
We had the chance to talk with Crowd GPS Scanner about the app and the security of Bluetooth keychain trackers.
Findable Goods: What are the general concerns with GPS keychain trackers that people might not know about?
Crowd GPS Scanner: We are working with the primary concern that the tracking devices like Tile and TrackR (which are the only 2 this app works with), can be easily slipped on any person – in their handbag, jacket, or satchel. Then it keeps tracking the person. We call it “digital stalking.”
Findable Goods: Interesting. I think consumers think that the Tile, for example, is only trackable when it’s in range. How far does a “digital stalker” have to be be to get a signal?
Crowd GPS Scanner: You can know where a Tile is when someone with the app on their phone comes in range to the device. Though it’s not paired to the device, the digital stalker could pick up signals and submit it to the community database. So, any busy city with a decent community network, the reach can multiply.
Findable Goods: Are you aware if these companies have publicly acknowledged the types of concerns you have?
Crowd GPS Scanner: No idea.
Findable Goods: What made you want to create this app?
Crowd GPS Scanner: What made me think of the idea was an advert that came up on my wife’s Facebook for the TrackR. I thought that there would be a market to detect these little devices so purchased 100 rf detectors from China and 8 TrackR devices for my own keys work bag etc. When the 100 detectors arrived they wouldn’t even text the TrackR which made me wonder if it would be possible to do with a phone app. After deciding to do the app it was really just a challenge to see if I could get an app on the App Store. After buying a hundred of these on eBay I found that they detect RF signals.
When I looked deeper in to the tile and tracker, I found that they worked on BLE Bluetooth Low Energy. So I decided to sell off the 100 RF detectors at cost. I then started thinking if my phone can connect to the tile or TrackR then maybe it could be used as a detector! That was when I thought up the idea of making the app.
There you have it. It seems that there is no real concern for being tracked unless you live in a larger community. However, the surging popularity of these two devices could mean that this digital stalking threat could spread to small communities in the future.