Hands-on: Lupo Bluetooth smartphone finder, security tag and controller review

Lupo is coming to make sure users never lose an item again. By connecting to a mobile, this Bluetooth controller offers alerts for left items, tracking for lost objects, security to lock computers when out of range, and even a button and accelerometer to control potentially anything.

We met up with the founder and creator of Lupo to play with some prototypes as its Kickstarter project steadily grows toward hitting its goal.

Smart secure

The Lupo is very similar to other tracker projects like the Tile. It too offers a smart method for securing clobber. Attach Lopo to a bag or keys, for example, and when walking away the connected phone will deliver an alert. Similarly, if the phone is left behind the Lupo can chirp up.

Another useful feature is the ability to link the Lupo to a computer. That way when the user walks away from the machine it automatically locks to keep everything on the system secure. It can then be unlocked again when the user is within range.

Controller

The Lupo, unlike the Tile, offers a full one-year battery life even when being used as a controller thanks to its button. This button has huge potential thanks to the open SDK that will be available to developers with the device.

At launch, the Lupo can be used to control a phone's camera shutter or a presentation slide show. Thanks to a built-in 3-axis accelerometer it can even be swiped to move the slide show along as if gesture controlling the screen. This, combined with the button, means huge potential for future controls.

Want to open your automatic garage door? Just tap the button or swipe up. How about starting up a wash cycle on your smart washing machine, a circular swipe would do nicely there. Of course it all depends on what developers create using the open SDK.

Another idea would be to use two Lupos as gesture controllers for gaming on your tablet or smartphone – it's technically possible. A single Lupo could even be used as a point-and-click mouse.

Track as a pack

If a user has left a bag behind in a coffee shop the app will show where the virtual tether was broken so it can be retrieved. But if the item has been taken, that last location isn't much use. This is where group use comes into its own. When a network of apps and Lupo devices are in use they can each ping one another, allowing for live tracking of the units. That way wherever the bag is can be tracked using the app.

At the moment Tile uses a similar service, in fact there are a few alternatives to the Lupo out there. But there isn't one unifying platform. Raj Sark, Lupo CEO, hopes that all these companies can agree on one unifying service in the future so they can make the tracking service stronger no matter what tag a person chooses to use.

Modified future

Since the Lupo has a removable plastic back cover the potential for future physical mods is great. An NFC tag on the back for example could be used to make Lupo a quick payment device. Or a 3D printed case could allow a person to add an individual touch to their Lupo – or even a shape that lets it lock into a dock for example.

The units we saw had plenty of room inside for extras like a vibrating alert.

First impressions

The Lupo is a compact hub of huge potential. From the open software to the modifiable case itself this Bluetooth 4.0 LE device with button and accelerometer is only limited by the imagination of developers.

At £24 for one or £66 for three, now is a great time to get a deal on a Lupo as it nears its Kickstarter goal. Lupo will work with iOS and Android phones and tablets at launch.

 



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