“Dude, there’s your car”

imageA product debuting at CES that I got to catch up with at Showstoppers at CTIA was Finder Technologies’ Auto-Finder, a sub-$100 device that is ridiculously easy to install by oneself– a relative rarity in the mobile (in-vehicle) electronics market. After affixing the transmitter to some surface in one’s vehicle with adhesive, consumers can use the key fob to find their way to said transportation.

One thing that makes the Auto-Finder noteworthy is its great range. The company claims that the system will feature from half a mile away even in dense areas. Auto-Finder can also indicate vertical directions, for those times when you’re in a multi-level parking garage. The transmitter uses AA batteries and the receiver AAAs, and the company estimates six months of battery life given what I would consider extraordinary usage.As you see, it comes in what seems to be a protective carrying case, which seems odd for a product that will be installed and perhaps never relocated.

I was surprised to learn that the heart of the system is two amplified Bluetooth radios as that is not a technology typically associated with long range, but company representatives said they had to actually dial down the power of the device to ensure that they did not run afoul of FCC regulations, To some extent the product competes with various smartphone apps that allow you to mark your location or the  Bushnell Backtrack, but you don’t have to mark your location before leaving the car with Audo-Finder). Besides, GPS-based devices can be ineffective in, say, underground lots

About the only thing I didn’t like about the product was the annoying and conspicuous beeping that it makes in guiding you toward your vehicle. I suppose that provides an effective and low-cost solution, but I think the product would draw much less attention to itself with a backlit LCD or even an LED array. Still, this looks like a nice gift idea for the easily bewildered who already have a PND.

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