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| January 13, 2012
Product Review: Find My Car Smarter
Last month, we told you about an interesting Kickstarter campaign: the Find My Car Smarter device. Well, the people behind that project were nice enough to mail me one to test out for myself, so let’s see how it works. I was mailed a tiny USB device. To use this device, you’ll need a USB port in your vehicle (some newer model vehicles have this), or an adapter as well as an iPhone 4S. I was not sent a USB adapter, so I panicked because I don’t have a new car by any means, so no USB ports are built in. Luckily, I happened to have an adapter for my car with a USB jack, so I was relieved. So, be aware that you’ll need to be able to plug the USB device in your vehicle somewhere. If you back the Kickstarter campaign for $30 or more, they will send you an adapter for your cigarette lighter, but if you only pledge $25, you’re on your own. [caption id="attachment_262340" align="aligncenter" width="273" caption="The Find My Car Smarter USB Device"][/caption] There’s a simple set up process. Just plug the tiny USB device into your vehicle. Make sure you’ve downloaded the Find My Car Smarter app. Unfortunately, the app costs $0.99. I was initially unsure as to why they would charge for an app that requires a paid device to work, however, it has been clarified that the price of the app is to avoid one star reviews and because it can be used with other Bluetooth Smart devices. I know it’s only $0.99, and not a big deal, but I just wanted to point this out. As a one time setup, pair the device with the app on your iPhone. You’ll want to make sure location services are turned on for the Find My Car Smarter app (in your device settings) and that Bluetooth is enabled. But, not to worry, the Bluetooth won’t be what is working to find your car, so your battery should not suffer. [caption id="attachment_262341" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="Initial setup of the app"][/caption] The directions say to keep the device plugged into your lighter, and that once your vehicle is turned off, it will log where your vehicle is. This is really how it knows where your car is parked: when you're no longer in Bluetooth range. In my case I had to walk 30 feet away from my car to break the Bluetooth link, thus setting the location of my car. However, this was due to the early firmware on my product; if you order one, it will only be 15 feet. The app recognizes that your vehicle is off, because the device is no longer “running,” and will activate the GPS on your iPhone just for a moment, to save your location. Now, only when looking for your vehicle will you need to launch the Find My Car Smarter app — then you’ll see exactly where it is: including how far away, and how long ago you parked there. I was sitting inside a restaurant and my blue dot (location of my iPhone) was moving constantly, changing my range from my vehicle from one to 60 feet. Although my dot stayed pretty close to the vicinity of where my vehicle was, it wasn’t perfectly accurate at all times and would move around sporadically. However, this is how the GPS on the iPhone is, and cannot really be helped. [caption id="attachment_262346" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="The blue dot is me, the red dot is my vehicle"][/caption] Although there were minor issues, overall this is a very neat piece of technology. Most of the trivial things were because I have an older model vehicle, so keep that in mind. They are already working on an update for the app where an automatic parking notification will be implemented. You will then be able to set up parking hotspots and whenever you park in these locations, an alarm will be automatically set and then cancelled if the vehicle is moved before the timer expires. Look for that update within the next two weeks. You can support the Find My Car Smarter Kickstarter campaign until Jan. 14 at 2:41 a.m. EST. Once they are funded, however, if you would like to purchase the device, please go to their website. But for now, for more information and updates, just go to Kickstarter and check them out. They’re working hard to improve their already great product. This is a great item to own if you have to park in a giant parking garage, or massive lot, everyday. You probably remember where you parked 95 percent of the time, but for that other five percent, Find My Car Smarter will do the work for you. And effortlessly.