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Tech Cocktail San Francisco

Finally! Find Lost Items with uGrokIt

UGrokit

uGrokIt, a startup based in Colorado and San Francisco, sets out to cure a chronic disease that plagues all of us: forgetfulness!

Who hasn’t done the mad dash as they scramble for their car keys and wallet on the way to work? With uGrokIt, your lost items are only a mobile app away.

uGrokIt consists of a Grokker, a device that attaches to the audio output of your iOS or Android device, and small tags which can be ironed or clipped onto your items. The Grokker sends out radio waves which reflect off items you’ve “tagged,” allowing you to find or identify them. The unit works best when the tag is within 6 to 10 feet of the Grokker.

Users can also tag items as “unforgettable.” A great example, from a video on their website, shows a man who scans his bag before he leaves a hotel room, and realizes (via the smartphone app) that he’s missing his iPhone charger. After scanning the room, he finds it plugged into the wall.

CEO and cofounder Carrie Requist said the company will also make a big push into the business world. Each tag stores a unique 96-bit number, which allows it to be much more individualized than a standard QR bar code. “For example, you can tag the 12th carton of milk off the line at a specific time,” she explains.

With an SDK already available for iPhone, and an Android version on its way, the product will be highly customizable. Requist is thrilled about the modern crowdsourced development possibilities. “This will expand technology in ways we couldn’t have before … breaking out of the enterprise shell in both business and home,” she says.

The product uses RFID technology rather than Bluetooth, which would have ultimately been too expensive. Bluetooth-enabled tags cost upwards of $60, versus their current less-than-$1 tag setup. Their tags are also “passive,” which means they reflect a signal back to the Grokker, and never require a charge. Once an item is tagged, no further maintenance is necessary.

Currently, there is a reservation list for the uGrokIt system, which has a $159 sticker price and includes 25 tags. The feedback has already been extremely positive, with over 1,300 consumers requesting a reservation for their own uGrokIt system. Requist said the team is focused on a Q1 2013 launch, depending on their ability to secure funding.

At a minimum, the uGrokIt app will give folks a very high-tech version of hide-and-seek to play with their children, or with other adults (who may like to act like children). When used as intended, the device seems poised to change how we find – and lose – things in our homes, while potentially impacting industry as well.

uGrokIt was a showcased startup at the Tech Cocktail San Francisco mixer last week.

Guest author Max Crowley spends his days (and nights) as the Community Manager for Uber in Chicago. He’s active in the growing technology and entrepreneurial community of Chicago, and is always down to chat business. Follow Max on Twitter: @MaxJCrowley.

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