BT Assistants Allow You to Find Lost Items and Create New Types of Play for Children.

The Bluetooth (BT) assistants are new technologies with a very bright future. Their uses are limitless. Do you want to know how many steps you’ve taken today, or have you ever lost your car in a parking lot? Take it a step further and you can create treasure hunts for your children in your own backyard. These small, non-intrusive BT device’s consist of a small computer chip with electro-mechanical components and a battery (watch battery or rechargeable).

Fitbit Flex and Fitbit One Activity Monitors.

Fitbit Flex and Fitbit One Activity Monitors.

There are 2 types of BT assistants. Location trackers and activity monitors. Activity monitors, or also called wearable computing, are the most common. They use components such as a gyroscope, accelerometer and sometimes an altimeter. These devices can track number of steps, calories burned and track your sleep patterns. They use data mining to store information such as steps taken, stairs climbed, distance traveled, hours slept, and even mood swings. The more advanced units have heart rate monitoring, blood oxygen levels and glucose levels. Zamzee is the first company to focus on using the monitors to get kids moving. (@fitbit, @zamzee@nikefuel, @mybasis, @misfitwearables, @jawbone, @motoactv, @striiv, @ourlark, @bodymedia, @withings, @goamiigo, @fitbug_ltd). Wikipedia defines activity tracking as the Quantified Self.  “The Quantified Self[1] is a movement to incorporate technology into data acquisition on aspects of a person’s daily life in terms of inputs (e.g. food consumed, quality of surrounding air), states (e.g. mood, arousalblood oxygen levels), and performance (mental and physical).”

Stick N Find Location Tracking Device.

Stick N Find Location Tracking Device.

The other device is RTLS (Real-time Location Systems), that focus on location tracking of lost items or keeping track of moving objects (i.e. kids, pets). These devices work via Bluetooth and have a range of 30-150 feet. (@sticknfind, @audiovox_corp, @thetileapp, @hippih, @phonehalo) We will see many more of these devices being released from large manufacturers, such as Kensington which has a device called the Proximo. Nokia is creating a device called the Treasure Tag, and Texas Instruments has a device called the SensorTag. See website links at the bottom of the page.

Currently, the BT tracking devices only use 2D directional location services. Meaning that its kind of like the Marco Polo swimming game, when you are looking for your lost item. “Marco”,…. “Polo”. The app gives you a hot or cold evaluation, usually with a percentage scale, of the distance that the BT tracker is from your smart phone. You sometimes have to walk in circles to figure out which direction to go. The apps also have a feature, called ‘virtual leash’2, where your smart phone will beep should the BT tracker wander outside of a selected distance. The manufacturers will someday use multiple BT trackers and smartphones to set up triangulation to create a 3D directional mode for more accurate searches. I truly hope that these devices will only need a firmware upgrade when they switch from 2D to 3D tracking.

At GenZPlay, we are focusing on the future of these devices for children. The activity monitoring devices can help with medical issue’s such as obesity and diabetes, but they can also create a new style of outdoor gaming that we haven’t seen before. Treasure hunt apps, where you attach a BT tracker to a toy and hide it in the yard. Adventure and fitness apps can use the activity monitors to move the gaming out of the living room; think Wii outdoors. These types of apps create gamification of fitness activities. “Gamification seeks to harness human motivation through the observation of why humans play games, playing on the idea that humans play games because they are intrinsically rewarding and entertaining.”1

The BT trackers could be used to help with bio-mechanical motion analysis as seen below. Tape BT trackers to various points on the body and find out if your tennis serve is properly performed or why your golf swing constantly shanks. GenZPlay is working on a virtual frisbee golf app that uses a BT tracker mounted to the center of a frisbee. Many of the BT device’s offer SDK’s so that you can design your own application and integrate with the data being transmitted from the device.

Photo by

Biomechanical analysis can help increase both pitching velocity and accuracy. Photo by

If you are looking for reviews on activity trackers, check out these two:

Bluetooth activity monitor website links:

Bluetooth tracker website links:




About steve@genzplay

Based in Sonoma Valley, California, GenZplay was founded in August 2011 by Steve Calhoun to make video games a physically active part of his son’s outdoor life. The company is focused on integrating gaming mechanics with everyday activities, especially those that need a mixture of fun and adventure to motivate and inspire. Follow GenZPlay at or Twitter @genzplay.

Posted on August 20, 2013, in Personal and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: