First Looks: Nio Security Tag

First Looks: Nio Security Tag

Sound the Alarm

When it comes to losing your valuables, misplaced or misappropriated, it's an experience that no one would wish to relive. The nio security tag from TenBu Technologies offers protection and security for your valuables against theft and loss using your mobile phone's Bluetooth connection.

How it Works

The nio security tag works in tandem with your smartphone with the installation of a free downloadable nio app. First, you attach the security tag to your valuables. Then run the app to create a wireless link via Bluetooth between your smartphone and the tag. The app uses this Bluetooth link to assess the tag's proximity to the user. If the distance between them becomes too large, it alerts the user through a buzzer and a flashing LED while also providing an alert on the smartphone.

Key Features

The nio security tag can be used with a wide variety of items and valuables. The options of what can and cannot be tagged are limited by your imagination. The app works with up to five different tags at any one time which means that your essential everyday items are easily covered. It can easily be clipped onto a key-ring, attached to a camera or slipped inside a bag.

What really makes the nio security tag versatile is the Security Zones feature that allows the user to customize the distance at which the alarm goes off. At the High Risk setting, the alarm is activated after a few meters, making it perfect for important items, such as keys. With a setting of Low Risk, the tag can be carried to a distance of 25m before the user is alerted. Medium Risk meanwhile lies in between the two. Depending on your environment, you may wish to vary this setting.

Other functions include a locate function, which has the tag emit a beeping noise to help you find your item. It's a boon for those who have a tendency to misplace their valuables. A motion sensor on the nio tag can also sound the alarm as soon as your stuff is handled.

Adding to the customization options, you can set personalized schedules for activation times and security settings, eliminating the need to constantly change and update the nio security tag.

The nio security tag currently supports the Symbian, BlackBerry, Android and Windows Mobile platforms, but there are certain devices within those platforms that are not supported yet, like the HTC Desire and Samsung Galaxy S. Check the nio compatibility page for more info.

Performance Matters

The alarm can clearly be heard over ambient noise and is also audible in noisy environments like a crowded bus. Not only will this alert the owner of the tag, but it will also draw the attention of anyone in the vicinity.

Syncing with the phone can be slightly problematic. The manufacturer recommends a distance of around one meter and with a clear line of sight between the tag and the phone. To start the syncing process, shake the tag for a few seconds, after which, you'll have 50 seconds to get the Bluetooth link in place, so act quickly when pairing the device.

Once connected, the nio offered good connectivity during our trial with a Motorola Milestone. The link between phone and tag was not lost once it had been established and was maintained even when there were obstacles between the two. While on the Low Risk setting, with its 25m proximity radius, we carried the tag into different rooms within the distance limit and the alarm was not set off.

There are however some drawbacks. While you can monitor the battery levels through the mobile app, the tag itself gives no clue on its remaining battery life. Since it won't work without battery life, it would be useful to have an indicator on the tag.

We also found that the nio requires a reset whenever a new connection needs to be established. This requires using a paperclip to reach the reset button in a tiny hole at the back of the device. While it is an effective way to prevent a prospective thief from resetting the nio and walking away with your valuables, we can imagine it would be a hassle if you had multiple tags to reset every time you needed to reconnect them to your phone.

Final Thoughts

The nio security tag seems to be an effective tool for protecting your valuables. With its customizable Security Zones, along with other functions, it can be used with a wide variety of items and in a myriad of different situations.

However its non-compatibility with the popular iPhone, means that it is inaccessible to a significant chunk of the market. And with a price tag of US$59.95, the nio security tag is not cheap. But then again neither are your valuables. If you happen to be prone to bouts of forgetfulness and leaving things behind, you’ll find that it is well worth the investment.