Have you ever forgotten your phone or keys somewhere, never to be seen again? You probably wouldn't have if you had ZOMM's Wireless Leash Plus.
It's a black keychain fob about the size of a peppermint patty. A trio of gently glowing LED panels line its rim, a micro-USB connector for charging and receiving updates sits on the bottom left edge, and a big black Z-button fills its middle.
It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth, and you can interact with it using the free MyZOMM app. I used it with an iPhone 4S, but the Wireless Leash Plus works with pretty much any phone or iOS device. The original Wireless Leash (no "Plus") was designed just for Android devices.
Both phone and fob begin to act up when they detect a diminishing Bluetooth connection. In my tests, the Leash began vibrating, flashing, and making sounds if I moved my phone more than 10 metres or so from the Leash (range can be lengthened slightly in the app's settings menu). Had I left my phone on a table in a restaurant, the Leash would have notified me before I even walked out the door.
Your phone, meanwhile, will vibrate and alert you that it has lost connection with the Leash. If you happen not to notice the alert until you've traveled some distance, the app will call up a Google map showing you the last known location of the Leash – and your keys – and offer directions to guide you back.
It's a neat little trick, and it works well enough. However, bear in mind that the Leash isn't a turn-it-on-and-forget-about-it kind of gizmo. It requires a bit of management, and perhaps more than some users will be willing to contend with.
For example, if your phone and keychain are regularly separated – as might happen should you leave your keys on a stand by the door and take your phone with you upstairs to your bedroom – you'll need to adjust and readjust settings on a daily basis. You can quickly create profiles for different situations, altering alerts and active features, but spending time creating and switching profiles for a gadget that – if fortune is good – you may never even need, can seem like a nuisance.
Plus, it's one more device that needs to be plugged in at regular intervals. The fob maintains a charge for about a week on standby, at which point it will tell you that it needs more juice. But there will be times when you aren't near an outlet or don't have four hours to wait for it to charge. Forgetful or lazy users may find their leash dead when they need it most.
Still, these minor annoyances might be worth enduring for some, especially considering that the Wireless Leash Plus has a few other tricks up its sleeve.
It also serves as a Bluetooth speakerphone. This feature can prove useful for taking hands-free calls while driving, especially since the fob is attached to your keys, which will likely be plugged into the ignition and close to hand. Just tap the Z-button to receive a call, then tap it twice to end it. Audio is kind of dirty, but it works in a pinch.
What's more, the Z-button doubles as a panic button, which may come in handy during late night strolls. Hold it down for a few seconds and the fob will issue a piercing sound. Your phone, meanwhile, will automatically dial whatever number you decide to program for emergency assistance (likely 911). Since the Leash doubles as a speaker phone, you can just start talking to the emergency dispatcher without fumbling for your handset.
The MyZOMM app comes with an added perk, too, in the form of a simple geo-tagging system. Snap a picture of something – like your car – and it will remember where the object is located and provide directions back.
To be sure, there are those for whom The Wireless Leash may save much grief and money. I have a friend who's lost one phone per year for as long as I've known him, and he'll definitely receive a Leash from me this Christmas.
However, as someone who has never lost a phone or his keys and who already has enough technology to contend with on a daily basis, I've no interest in managing another app and charging another device. I think I'll just continue to rely on my OCD-like tendency to pat my pockets for personal possessions when getting up from tables.
The ZOMM Wireless Leash Plus is available from ZOMM's website for $89.99.