Local startup company Phone Halo has launched a “crowd-funding” website in order to release a new product called Wallet Trackr — a credit card-thin device and accompanying iPhone app that allows a user to page his or her wallet or receive GPS photos of its last location if it goes out of a certain range.
The product uses cutting-edge Bluetooth technology that allows the device to hold its charge for up to a year and a half on only two coin cell batteries. At a width of 3.8 millimeters, it is the thinnest Bluetooth device on the market.
Phone Halo founders Chris Herbert and Christian Smith, both UCSB grads, also brought on designer Franc Fernandez — best known for creating Lady Gaga’s “meat dress” — to custom make quality leather wallets that are available as a package deal with the device.
The device also can be used to track an infinite number of different items, and with its built-in keychain ring, its use isn’t limited to just to wallets.
While the Wallet Trackr device includes ways to track lost items, Phone Halo hopes that the device will make this situation a rare occurrence.
“One of the things that differentiates this company in general is this concept of reminding people before they lose something … and there’s not a lot of companies in the market that do that,” Chief Marketing Officer Palmer Jackson said. “It’s one thing to completely lose your wallet, but how much time do you waste with wallets or phones just trying to find it around the house?”
Though the app is available only for Apple products, the company hopes to expand to Android or other smartphone operating systems as soon as these companies upgrade to the necessary Bluetooth technology.
In order to fund the device, the company has set up a “crowd-funding” website through which interested customers can make pledges, and once a minimum goal of $250,000 is reached, the company will move into the production phase.
The available orders range from the $19 “device-only” package to the $2,000 or more “ultimate luxury” package, and include various combinations of the device and wallets designed by Fernandez.
“It’s hard to get a retailer nowadays to take a risk on a new idea,” Herbert said. “Everyone just wants to play it safe, and it’s hard to get manufacturers to take a risk. Today [crowd-finding] is really the only way for a lot of these consumer electronic startup companies to really get their product off the ground.”
Phone Halo was founded in 2009 after Herbert and Smith won the Most Investable Concept Award in UCSB’s Technology Management Program New Venture Competition for their original keychain tracking device.
Since then, they have expanded on their original idea with products such as the Cobra Tag and the Headset Trackr.
“Something we pride ourselves in is that we have the best software in the world for Bluetooth proximity tracking,” Herbert said. “We’ve been doing this since 2009, and … we ultra-focus on this problem to make user experience seamless and enjoyable.”
Herbert said developing a product that specifically tracks the wallet has been one of the company’s goals for a long time.
“We always wanted to keep track of our wallets — that was kind of the missing piece. If you think about it, phone, wallet, keys are the trinity of most valuable items and most frequently lost,” Herbert said. “Now we have the trinity — we protect the phone, the keys and your wallet.”
With the advent of low-energy Bluetooth technology, Smith said, it is very possible to set up a tracker for every personal item, and one of the goals of Phone Halo is to make it as difficult as possible for people to lose their most valuable items.
“It’s not going to be long before everyone has a smart device that allows them to interact and engage with all of the different items,” Smith said.