Google LLC’s Nest consumer hardware division is reportedly developing a new location tracking tag that will help users find misplaced items.
The Verge reported the development initiative today, citing software engineer Kuba Wojciechowski. Wojciechowski discovered references to the location tracking tag in Google’s Fast Pair service. The service, which was launched in 2017, enables devices such as handsets to wirelessly exchange data using Bluetooth.
A location tracking tag is a compact device that can be attached to key rings, wallets and other items. The tag broadcasts radio signals that enable nearby handsets to determine its whereabouts. Such location trackers are sold by Apple Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and other consumer hardware makers.
Apple’s AirTag, one of the most popular devices in the category, includes a speaker that can play a sound to make locating missing items easier. AirTag also integrates with the iPhone maker’s Find My system. The system leverages the hundreds of millions of iOS devices in use worldwide to detect missing items with attached AirTag trackers.
The competing location tracking tag being developed by Google is reportedly known internally as Grogu, GR10 and Groguaudio. Similarly to Apple’s AirTag, the device is believed to feature a built-in speaker that will make locating it easier. The device will also use two wireless networking technologies, BLU and UWB, to help consumers find misplaced items.
BLU is a version of Bluetooth optimized for power efficiency. Bluetooth is a networking technology that enables handsets, smart home appliances and other devices to wirelessly exchange data over short distances. BLU’s power efficiency makes it more suitable for use in compact devices as location tracking tags that have limited battery capacity.
UWB, the other networking technology reportedly supported by Google’s location tracking tag, offers more advanced features. It provides the ability to identify a device’s location with higher precision than BLU. As a result, a handset that detects a nearby UWB-compatible device can provide distance estimations and directions to users.
Google’s high-end Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 7 Pro handsets both support UWB. It’s possible they will be compatible with the company’s rumored location tracking tag when it launches. According to today’s report, the device may also work with handsets that only support the less advanced BLU wireless networking technology.
Google is expected to debut the locating tracking tag at its Google I/O developer conference, which usually takes place in May. It’s believed the device will become available for purchase in the fall alongside the company’s newest Pixel handsets.
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