Keeping your gadgets safe can be a real worry. TenBu Technologies' nio is a Bluetooth security system for your gadgets with the aim of providing you with a Bluetooth "security zone".

Essentially the system works though a Bluetooth tag, which is about 2 and a half inches long and a connection with your mobile phone. The idea is that once the tag moves to a particular distance from the phone an alarm is triggered on both devices to let you know that something is on the move.

We tested the nio with the BlackBerry Curve 8900. A quick install of the software and we were up and running in minutes. The nio tag needs charging up before you start which we found took about 3 hours. The tag has a Mini-USB socket in the bottom and comes supplied with a wall charger and USB cable. The software is easy to use with reasonably clear titles guiding you around the menus. Making a connection to the nio tag took almost no time, a handy Quick Guide in the box detailing the essentials.

The software itself lets you add tags and control your connection to them, so if you have more than one, you'll be able to manage them through your phone. You can rename them and change the icons so you can tell at a glance which one you are dealing with. The Control Panel also lets you set the security zone, which is the mainstay of the nio's operation.

There are three different levels of security (low, medium, high) which basically changes the tolerated range. If you are on a train, you'd want it on high, if you were in your office or at home, you'd probably want it on low. We set the security zone to High which basically limited us to a few metres radius. On Low we made it about 25 metres before the alarm triggered.

Returning to the nio cancels the alarm, or it can be manually silenced through the phone application. Of course, you'll need to leave the application running in the background. When triggered the alarm sounds on both the nio tag and your mobile phone, regardless of which one is moving away from the other. There is a choice of alarms and volumes that can be accessed through the advanced settings, with a vibrate option for your handset as well. There is also a motion sensor in the nio tag, so if you want to ensure that it stays still, then you can activate this option.

The alarm volume will vary depending on the output of the device you are using, but we found that with the BlackBerry it was very loud (embarrassingly loud for public tests). In our tests it was loud enough for a noisy pub, but you'd perhaps not hear it in a pocket in a loud club. The nio tag is not quite loud enough and doesn't match the din coming from the phone. We found that the sound could be easily smothered, something that a thief might easily do, but it wouldn't stop your phone alarm ringing.

There is a "locate" option too, so if you lose your keys (or whatever is attached to your tag) you can trigger the alarm and find them around the house. For those with predictable lives there is a Schedule option which will let you change the security zones on your tags based on the time of day. This will mean you can have it on high for your journey to work, medium in the office and low in the house, for example. 

You can use multiple devices so you could have one in your laptop bag and one on your keys or even one attached to your desk to stop pesky workmates walking off with your stuff. The nio is an interesting idea and in practise it worked well with our BlackBerry. If you are prone to losing things, then this will warn you that something has been left behind before you get too far away from it. As a deterrent to theft, whether a thief would abandon the item emitting the alarm is a different point. It would be easy for a thief to silence the phone alarm or discard the tag, but in terms of an unexpected shock, it certainly delivers that. But more importantly, on the High settings, it would give you just about enough time to react and that might be the deciding factor.


The TenBu Technologies nio is so simple to use it is really convenient. Attach the tag to your bag, keep your phone in your pocket and it should have you covered. Set the motion detector and you'll be able to stroll up to the counter of your favourite coffee shop without dragging your bag with you. It might not be the physical deterrent that a cable lock would be, but its wire-free approach means you're much more likely to use it. Just remember to keep the tag charged.