David Zax

A View from David Zax

Never Lose Your Wallet

Your iPhone could help you find your wallet.

  • November 20, 2012

We’ve heard of the ways that the smartphone can supposedly replace our wallet, but that doesn’t seem to have happened yet. In the meantime, what if our smartphone could simply help prevent us from losing our actual wallet?

That’s what Wallet TrackR, from a company called Phone Halo, purports to offer. Here’s how it works. First, Wallet TrackR hooks you up with what it says is the “world’s thinnest Bluetooth device, about the size of a credit card.” You can probably already see where this is going. You slip that Bluetooth credit card thingy in with your wallet, and pair it with your iPhone (Wallet TrackR also has an app). If your wallet and iPhone become separated, the app records the GPS coordinates of where the phone or wallet was left.

There’s undoubtedly a market for this. Today I stepped on the subway in Brooklyn, as multiple people stepped off. As the train pulled away, one of the women on the platform moaned as though she’d just seen a loved one abducted. People turned to look at her in concern, as the train began to pull away. “I can’t find my wallet!!” the woman screamed.

Perhaps that was an overreaction, but the truth is that a lost wallet can mean not only the loss of cash and the risk of identity theft, but also the hours spent cancelling some cards, while renewing and replacing other ones.

It can also help you out with more banal, everyday forgetfulness. Sometimes you step out of the house without realizing you left your wallet–safely, but annoyingly–at home. “Never again will someone have to face the embarrassment of being out with friends or on a date and having to confess they forgot their wallet,” Phone Halo co-founder Christian Smith said in a press release. “What’s exciting here is that we are helping consumers to prevent loss or misplacement in the first place by alerting them before they have stepped away from a valuable item.”

The service is as much preventive as restorative, in a way.

Wallet TrackR isn’t on the market just yet; Phone Halo has set up a crowdfunding website to help tip the device into wider production. How do you know you can trust Wallet TrackR to actually get made? Phone Halo points to former success, including Cobra Tag, a 2011 device that could track your keys from a smartphone. These guys have expertise in digital lost-and-found.

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.
Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium

$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

You've read of free articles this month.