Six Bluetooth Trackers for Vehicles, Tools, and Easy-to-Lose Items
Bluetooth tracking is the most convenient and efficient way to track your assets. Since most Bluetooth trackers are generally small with ranges under 500 feet, per unit costs are very affordable for the service they provide. Their low energy consumption results in longer battery life for less routine maintenance. When compared to RFID or Ultra-Wideband, range is the only downfall. Bluetooth is well-known, can be read by easily accessible devices like smartphones, and provides low-cost asset tracking with little setup.
When searching for the best Bluetooth tracker for easy-to-lose items, it’s important to consider these three questions:
- What type of items need to be tracked?
- Where are these items going to be, and where will they go?
- How much will it cost if these items are lost forever?
While there are many products in the market that can do the job, most of them rely on the power of other network users and a solid connection to data. If you need to track a single set of keys, a wallet, or some luggage, a simple and inexpensive Bluetooth tracking device will suffice. But if you’re tracking high value equipment, tools, or vehicles, you’ll need a robust Bluetooth tracker that can function in low service areas while providing an intuitive dashboard for extremely accurate real-time tracking. To help with the search for greatness, here are the best Bluetooth trackers and beacons of 2022, depending on your need.
Titan GPS Bluetooth Beacons
Track valuable equipment like generators and lights.
Monitor expensive vehicles like backhoes and dozers.
Easily find tools like jackhammers, drills, and saws.
Keep tabs on field assets such as air compressors and fuel pumps.
– Up to 10-year battery life
– Low-power BLE emits a signal that piggybacks off of your vehicle’s GPS hardware to do the heavy lifting
– Receive latitude, longitude, date and direction headed within Titan GPS app
– Set up text or email movement alerts to quell worries of theft or misuse
– Up to 80-meter range – Size of a key fob, with screw holes for solid attachment in addition to adhesive
– Able to withstand harsh winter temperatures -58F (-50C)
– Plots real-time last location if the tagged asset goes out of beacon range
– Handle hundreds of assets at once
– App for Android and iOS
– IP rating: IP67 (Explanation of the IP Rating Scale here)
– IP67 is dust tight, complete protection against contact, based on 8 hours of airflow
– IP67 is able to be immersed in water up to 1 meter of depth with no harm to the unit.
– No minimum order required to get started
– ELD Certified in the U.S. and Canada for GPS users
– Shorter range than GPS provider competition (80m)
– Must have TT6000 and WBD Gateway installed to use
– Equipped vehicles must come in range of beacon to provide updates
– Monthly add-on cost for Beacons
Tracking with Titan
Titan GPS is a cloud-based fleet management solution that helps users track and manage vehicles, equipment, and mobile assets across Canada and the United States. Bluetooth tracking is just one of the features that the intuitive system contains. Apart from the ability to track valuable assets with Bluetooth Beacons, Titan GPS also offers an Electronic Logging Device to conduct vehicle inspections, HD dash cams with live video feeds, dispatching software for scheduling jobs and route planning, and customizable digital forms all in one place.
Titan GPS’ Bluetooth Beacons are an optional customer convenience that work in tandem with their custom GPS service packages. If users need real-time location tracking for multiple assets or tools on a jobsite, all of that data is collected and stored within the Titan GPS app. Through the Titan GPS Tracking Dashboard, an updated map of last-known locations can be quickly populated to maintain a solid grasp on valuable assets.
This is great for companies or individuals who work primarily in low service areas with little to no cell reception or satellite connectivity. Expensive equipment is often left on the field to save time on certain jobs, it’s important to know where those assets are at all times. Titan GPS Bluetooth Beacons also alleviate worries about fragmented data or malfunctioning units out in the elements. With an impressive IP rating of IP67, the Beacons are dust-proof, water-resistant up to 1 meter, and will withstand temperatures as low as -58F (-50C). The CR2032 batteries within this hardened casing will keep your beacons running for up to 10 years.
How It Works
One main difference between Titan’s Bluetooth capabilities and the more compact units below is that Titan’s BTE Beacons do not have an internal gateway or an enormous network of users to connect with to help you find your lost item. That means in order to transfer data, the transmitter (TT6000) needs to be connected to a vehicle to power the system. When an equipped vehicle is in range of a Bluetooth Beacon, the system collects the Beacon ID and sends it to Titan GPS by pinging the nearest cell tower or satellite (4G LTE).
The dashboard will display where all of the Bluetooth-equipped assets were when your vehicle last came within 80 meters (262 feet) of them. The dashboard can also be shared with other users on your account so that everyone on the team has complete visibility. Users can also run and export detailed asset reports which provide status updates, serial numbers, battery level, last-known coordinates, and more.
To make monitoring easier, users can set up landmarks around the area they wish to monitor their Bluetooth trackers within. Now they can receive alerts when an asset or Bluetooth beacon enters or leaves the zone.
Unlike one-off Bluetooth tracking providers, every Titan GPS user has a dedicated account representative. Creating this relationship makes troubleshooting quicker and easier as your agent will know the ins and outs of the account from beginning to end. No more waiting in a queue for customer service.
With the ability to collect real-time data of your assets while having multiple users in the same dashboard at one time, Titan GPS pulls ahead of the competition with overall visibility, detailed reporting, and custom alerts. While users can’t purchase this product with their Amazon Prime account, the level of customer service provided by a dedicated representative outshines the other contenders. When searching for a GPS system, make sure you answer the three important questions we’ve detailed above before settling on your final decision. If the item your trying to track is small, affordable, and easily replaceable, you can consider one of the singular Bluetooth trackers below. But taking into account the additional features coupled with Bluetooth tracking for vehicle and fleet management, Titan GPS takes the win.
- Refrigerated Vehicles: Medical supplies or perishable foods
- Warehouses: Electric pallet jacks, powered carts, rolling ladders
- Electricians / Utilities: Hot sticks, tool belts, wireless voltage testers
- Oil & Gas: Power tongs, rig tongs, sand pumps, mud cleaners, shale shakers
- Emergency Services: Jump bags, defibrillators, stretchers
– Beacon technology: 3rd party marketplace (BeWhere)
– IP Rating: IP68
– Battery life up to 2 years
– Range: Up to 250 meters (800 ft)
– Can track any beacon with a public MAC address
– Geotab Marketplace offers over 200 third party apps to integrate with platform
– Must have a Geotab plan / account
– Multiple requirements to get started
– Must be installed in an open area for better reception
– Equipped vehicles must come in range of beacon to provide updates
Know Where It’s Going with Geotab
Geotab is another fleet tracking platform that helps companies improve efficiency by monitoring the activities of their assets with a combination of GPS and Bluetooth tracking. Like Titan GPS, they offer an integrated Electronic Logging Device to help users digitally submit and review Hours of Service data and vehicle diagnostics via their MyGeotab account. In addition, Geotab users have access to the GeoTab Marketplace, where consumers can purchase software add-ons, adapters, cameras, and more to enhance their tracking capabilities. Through their partnership with a third-party provider of Bluetooth beacons called BeWhere, beacons are able to be purchased (or at least inquired about) on the marketplace for future integration.
Geotab’s Bluetooth beacons use an optional attachment called an Input Output Expander (IOX) to receive Bluetooth signals. The add-on that unlocks the ability to send and receive data is called the IOX-BT. The IOX-BT enables monitoring of Bluetooth proximity beacons with a public MAC address and supports sensor enabled beacons, as well. That means users can track devices that aren’t specifically ordered through Geotab, which is a huge plus when it comes to integration.
The beacons can be attached to tools and equipment to increase asset utilization, improve productivity, reduce lost items, lower operational costs, and improve delivery times. When the IOX-BT is in range, it will pick up the signal from active beacons and send the data back to the MyGeotab app for users to view and manage. If the particular beacon has sensors installed to monitor attributes like proximity, impact, temperature, light exposure, and battery life, those levels will also be reported alongside the current location. One tip, make sure all connections are secure as some customers have questioned their team’s integrity due to the ease of manual removal.
In order to effectively use Geotab as a Bluetooth tracker, users will need the following:
– GeoTab plan
– GeoTab Go (GPS Unit)
– IOX-BT (Adapter)
– IOX-BT Beacon (BLE Unit)
The BeWhere beacons also have a dedicated app which provides dashboards, a map interface, live beacon status updates, battery life, sensors, and proximity. It also allows Geotab admins to name and group users, title beacons, view other installed devices, and create custom alerts, but it might be more efficient to use Geotab’s mobile app, where everything is stored in one place.
Geotab offers a fairly easy solution to an expensive problem. Monitoring hardware can be difficult using a Bluetooth tracking system that depends on other users while being limited to specific areas due to bad reception. While setup might be a bit drawn out and pricey, the huge benefit here is the ability to monitor public third-party beacons without prior setup or limitations from the provider. While Geotab may not be best for someone looking to keep tabs on their luggage, it’s certainly an excellent runner-up for vehicle and equipment tracking via Bluetooth.
- Cold Chain Vehicles: Pharmaceuticals or frozen foods
- Storerooms: Service carts, flexible conveyors, stretch wrap machines
- Public Works: Snow plows, surveying equipment, ground penetrating radars
- Drilling: Air compressors, drill rigs, pumps, light towers
- EMS: Day bags, CPAP equipment, nebulizers
Tenna - TennaBLE Beacon & Steel Puck
– Beacon technology: BLE
– Range up: Up to 30 meters / 100 feet
– App for iOS and Android devices
– IP Rating: IP67
– Integrates with GPS tracking system
– Sends data to Tenna app users in range
– Attach via welding (puck)
– Battery life: Up to 3 years
– Non-replaceable lithium battery
– Not the best choice for single-item tracking
– Less moisture and dust-proofing than competition
Trying Out Tenna
Tenna is a New Jersey based asset tracking company that specializes in fleet management for construction companies. While other competitors cater to a variety of industries, Tenna’s laser focus is aimed at providing ELD’s, DVIRs, and location tracking for equipment fleet operations. Their software applications range from accounting, to project operations systems, to OEM integrations. Like Titan GPS and Geotab, Tenna uses BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) beacons in conjunction with their GPS tracking systems to provide further visibility on fleets, heavy equipment, small tools, attachments and consumables.
The twist with their TennaBLE Beacon & Steel Puck Beacon is that their Tenna Mobile Field asset tracking apps can receive signals simply by coming within Bluetooth range. The original TennaBLE Beacon (IP66) is recommended for use on attachments, spare parts, and power tools but the Steel Puck (IP67) was created to withstand higher impact and intense weather conditions. With a glass fiber reinforced nylon housing, the upgraded Steel Puck can only be attached to assets via welding. While this might seem like a negative when it comes to reusability, the puck was created solely to be more secure, durable, and rugged than its predecessor. However, keep in mind, these units do not have a rechargeable battery and only last for up to three years, so locating an experienced welder on your team might be worth considering.
Even though the first TennaBLE Beacon has a lower IP rating, it’s still protected from the elements by a glass-filled nylon outer shell. The benefit to the original BLE tracker is that it can adhere to your equipment with epoxy, double-sided VHB tape, bolts, screws or wire ties. This provides the ability to track a variety of different assets over the lifespan of the battery with no welding involved, which is perfect for third-party equipment rentals that eventually need to be returned to their owners unscathed. The prominent QR code also provides another layer of protection by syncing with each user’s Tenna app for individual equipment check-in. A quick scan connects the asset to that user until check-out.
Tenna’s software provides maintenance tracking functionality and PM scheduling in addition to the live asset tracking. It allows users to know where everything is, and when each asset needs to be serviced. The Bluetooth beacons, paired with their utilization function, allow equipment managers to increase the uptime of unused assets in the field. As with Titan GPS and Geotab, geofencing is available for users to create custom virtual boundaries around job sites or facilities. Users will have a full view of what’s within the Geofence, and when an asset enters or leaves the zone.
With over 100 years of experience in the construction business, Tenna customers can feel comfortable knowing that they understand the needs and agitations of the average contractor. It’s this background that gives Tenna an advantage when it comes to this niche, but in other real-word applications they might not be the best fit. When looking for the best Bluetooth tracker to fit personal needs, be sure to consider the longevity of specific company tracking efforts as well as overall costs for expansion in the future. Most people just need a one-off tracker for personal effects, in which case the choices below are better fits.
– Works with both Android and iOS
– Tile Pro dubbed the best item for easy to lose items and longest range of beacons in market (400m)
– Loudest speaker for quicker search
– Durable body
– Good connectivity
– Uses Bluetooth to reach 400 ft range
– Doesn’t require service plan, but offers optional for $3 per month
– Voice assist with Alexa, Google assistant, and Siri
– GPS location tracking
– More expensive than competitors
– App doesn’t offer precise data
– No activity tracking out of range
“Tile it. Find it.”
Tile is one of the leading brands in Bluetooth trackers, often dubbed as the best item for easy-to-lose items. They offer a variety of devices such as the Tile Sticker, Tile Mate, and Tile Slim (great for wallets), but for the most competitive edge, we’ll be highlighting the Tile Pro. Due to their prowess when it comes to range, the Pro boasts the ability to find beacons within 400 meters of the user. This almost triples that of direct competition, and almost doubles the range of subscription-based Bluetooth trackers.
Due to its impressive hardware, and Apple’s AirTag limitations, the Tile Pro is worth comparing for Android users or iOS users that don’t want to be restricted by Apple’s network. With an IP rating of IP67, the Pro is dust-proof and waterproof, able to be submerged in water up to 1 meter for 30 minutes, so adding something buoyant to the keyring might save some search time and money. Its built-in keyring hole is reinforced with a metal casing, preventing blowouts and loss of the tracker.
While the Pro’s sturdy case seems impenetrable, its replaceable battery housing is easy to access. It’s recommended that the batteries are replaced annually, but the standard life is said to last even longer.
The Tile app has a simple account setup with minimal prompts to get started. Add a new Tile device in just a few taps from the main screen and you’ll begin pairing in seconds. Each device name, icon, and alert tone is customizable to differentiate each tracker from the others.
Tile also offers a subscription-based program, ($29.99/year) Tile Premium, which new users receive for free for one year. Premium includes annual replacement batteries, 30 days of location history, uncapped location sharing, and the Smart Alert feature. This add-on will send a notification if users get too far from the tracker during daily routines. For another layer of protection, users can upgrade to Tile’s Premium Protect package ($99/year), which adds $1000 of loss protection for whatever the device is attached to. Be sure to read their terms as there are qualifiers for this subscription package.
The Tile Pro uses Bluetooth to reach a range of up to 400 feet, however, this is really only possible without any obstructions between the user and their assets. Inside of buildings, the range is closer to that of the competition, between 50-75 feet.
One very useful feature, which allows others to assist in the search for a lost item, is the Lost and Found feature. If it’s out of range, setting the tracker to Lost mode by tapping “Notify When Found” allows other Tile users to see the device if they come within range. Tile’s network works as a temporary location piggyback to harness other users’ range to find your device. If the retriever isn’t a user, they can then scan the QR on the back of the device to find the owner’s contact info, if previously set up. Otherwise, the user will be sent to Tile’s website.
While on the pricier side when it comes to the competition, the Pro is an incredibly viable option for users that don’t want/need to be integrated into the Apple or Android networks. However, iOS users may want to consider Apple AirTags, but the Tile Pro is a top pick for Android users looking for speedy location data and Bluetooth asset tracking.
- People and Pets: Track children at school or runaway pets
- iOS or Android users
– Works with any device capable of running iOS or iPad OS 14.5 and later
– Must use iPhone 11 or later to use Precision Finding Feature
– See your app on a map, play a sound and get directions to where the tag is located
– Ultra-wideband connectivity (UWB): UWB tried to compete with WiFi but ended up on limited medical and military equipment. The name comes from the ability to transmit info across a wide radio bandwidth, from 500MHz to several gigahertz. It’s a radio tech like WiFi and Bluetooth, but doesn’t use 2.4 GHz frequencies so it can be compatible with other wireless systems with no signal interference.
– Simple battery replacement
– GPS location tracking
– Gives directional cues
– No service plan required
– Can send location from a distance
– Receive alerts on Apple Watch
– No Keyring or Lanyard attachment hole
– Compatibility with iPhone 11 iOS or iPad OS 14.5 only
– Limited Anti-stalking features
A Healthy Dose of Tracking
Apple AirTags are yet another product offered exclusively to Apple users, but equip them with one of the most modern tracking technologies to date. Their ability to harness the location data of their network of over 1 billion users worldwide allows for faster tracking with more accuracy. Using UWB (Ultra-wideband connectivity), Apple AirTags circumvent standard 2.4 GHz frequencies so they can be compatible with other wireless systems with no interference. UWB also powers Apple’s Precision Finding feature, which literally points toward the location of lost items using the Find My app, within a range of around 30 feet.
Dressed up as a glossy, circular pin, Apple Airtags conform to their other ancillary products’ traditional white coat and trusted durability. The only downfall to this design is the lack of a keyhole to attach a ring or lanyard. However, you can purchase an AirTag Loop or Keyring that’s custom fitted for affixing your tags to your tracked items. As an added feature, they can also be engraved with small icons or initials for personalization.
AirTags can be easily missed when tossed into a bag or thrown into a glovebox, but the lifespan of their batteries provides plenty of time to conduct a thorough search. Using a standard watch battery (CR2032) for power, AirTags can last for roughly a year. These tough and tiny trackers are rated IP67 (Just like the Titan BLE Beacon and Tile Pro) so users have about 30 minutes to save a device from shallow waters up to 1 meter.
As with other Apple products, the ability to seamlessly connect and sync with devices isn’t lost on the AirTags. Simply press the tag against an Apple device to link them together. Download the Find My app to name your Tag and begin tracking. New users might want to consider testing at home first by asking someone to hide your tracker in another room, then pull up the app and begin to search. Once in range (about 45 feet) the search can be narrowed. At about 30 feet, the Precision Finding feature will kick in and provide an arrow to follow until the screen turns green and a white circle marks the spot. With the aid of location beeps (which are quieter than the Tile Pro), AirTags can be found in no time.
Without using its own cellular connection, the AirTag needs to be within 30 feet of someone’s iPhone to send data to Apple’s network. So, it isn’t truly a GPS tracker. However, users can garner support from other Apple devices via the Find My network, allowing stranger’s locations to expand their search area via Bluetooth. For security purposes, unknown users are not notified of these ping requests, they’re simply assisting without any public data exchange. If you completely lose your AirTag, utilize your Find My app to set the tag to Lost mode. When someone finds it and checks it, they’ll be provided with the owner’s phone number and short message.
Apple’s products are inherently innovative and typically cater only to their own customers. The AirTag is no exception. For Apple users who generally love their products and enjoy consistency among devices, the AirTag is an optimal choice. However, for those who like camping, four-wheeler rides, and other activities that go off the grid, these aren’t going to be of much help deep in the wilderness. If the things that need to be tracked are in hard-to-reach places like deep in the woods or desert, it’s wise to entertain the idea of a true GPS tracker like Titan GPS.
- People and Pets: Children, elderly family members, runaway dogs or cats
- iOS users
Samsung Galaxy SmartTags
– Works only with Samsung Galaxy phones that run Android 10 or later
– Must have SmartThings Find app installed
– Has a loud alarm for proximity indication
– Replaceable battery
– Can trigger smart home routines
– Only works with Samsung Galaxy phones
– Bulky frame
– Signal strength meter inaccurate
– Can’t connect a single tracker to more than one device at a time
Bluetooth Starring Galaxy SmartTags
As with Apple’s AirTags, Samsung is shutting out non-Galaxy users with their SmartTag. The positive is that Android users will have a dedicated option when it comes to Bluetooth trackers at their disposal. SmartTag functionality is currently reserved for Samsung Galaxy users with Android 10 and above as well as an updated version of Samsung’s SmartThings Find app. Connecting your device to your phone is as simple as keeping them close and pressing “Add a New Device” within the app.
Starting off at the same price point as AirTags, the SmartTag is definitely a beefier gadget which might toe the line of inconvenience. Even with the addition of a key-ring hole, sticking this tracker in tight spaces might be uncomfortable. Also, its “awkward stone” shape won’t allow users to easily slide it into wallets or wristlets, like some Tile trackers.
While the housing is equipped with a battery compartment for easily replacing the CR2032 inside, the SmartTag is only rated IP53 for dust/water resistance. This lower rating means that it’s not completely protected from dust, and it’s only protected against water up to 60 degrees from the vertical (think light rain falling at a slight angle.)
There’s also a small button in the center of the SmartTag that allows users to control IoT devices like lights, A/C, and televisions at home, so it’s useful even when something isn’t lost. You can even double tap the button to locate your phone, even if it’s on silent mode. Two quick presses and the SmartTag can trigger your phone to ring at high volume until found. Keep in mind, though, that these features are mostly limited to Samsung products.
Using the standard Bluetooth technology that powers most trackers, the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag can be located even if the user is out of range or offline. The Galaxy Find Network gathers tracking support from fellow users (just like Apple AirTags) and allows you to access a detailed history of the device’s past locations. However, there is an interesting negative to keep in mind.
Customers have complained that since the devices need to pair to a single phone, if that device isn’t within range, it’s impossible to find what was lost. For instance, a family member left the house and their phone is connected to the SmartTag on the lost mailbox keys. The user with the connected device would need to open the app and relay the offline information to whoever is at home searching. Hopefully, the ability to link and track devices within an “umbrella account” is coming soon.
In the unfortunate event that your lost item is out of range, SmartTag has the ability to connect with other people running the SmartThings app, sort of like Tile’s functionality. If someone has their Galaxy Buds in while going on a jog past your device, the app will mark that location on your map to help you narrow down the search area.
Samsung’s SmartTags offer a unique array of features from smart home automation to reverse tracking your phone. They keep up with their main competitor by utilizing their network to assist with location tracking, but in the United States the network for iOS users is larger. According to StatCounter, 54% of North American consumers prefer Apple products (and iOS) over Android, making AirTags the overall better fit for those interested in device tracking. Again, the final decision for a Bluetooth tracker comes down to specific use cases, integration, and functionality, so it can’t hurt to do some in-depth research with personal intent in mind.
- Family Members: Alzheimer's sufferers and children visiting friends
- Android users
The Bottom Line
SmartTags are Samsung’s Bluetooth tracking solution for Galaxy customers, just as AirTags solely serve Apple users. But considering range, design, features, and ease-of-use, the Tile Pro has them both trumped. However, it’s important to remember that none of these three devices are true GPS trackers. They all rely on connectivity among other users, Bluetooth (or UWB) connections, and have batteries that need to be replaced. While the one-time cost is appealing, there are downsides to neglecting a fully-fledged GPS tracking system like Titan GPS.
When beginning the search for the best Bluetooth tracker, start with considering what needs to be tracked, where it’s going to travel, and how much it will cost if it can’t be found again.