Review: mi-zone Proximity Alarm
Losing a mobile device, or any belonging for that matter, is not a pleasant affair and with the amount of tech and gadgets around us these days it seems this problem should be resolvable by now.
The Proximity Alarm from technology start-up mi-zone is designed to tackle this problem head on so in this review we will be taking a closer peek at this particular security tag from mi-zone.
For this review we will be using an Apple iPhone 4S and an Android based Samsung GALAXY Note with the tag and its associated app.
The basic idea of the mi-zone Proximity Alarm is that you attach it to something of value and install an app on a mobile device so when the two move out of reach of each other an alarm will warn you. The mi-zone Proximity Alarm also goes a little further by allowing you to find the tag or the mobile device should they become parted. The technology behind the mi-zone is Bluetooth but before we get too much into that side of things let’s take a look at what you get in the box.
In the Box: mi-zone Proximity Alarm
In the neatly presented and accessible box you get the mi-zone tag, a short mini USB cable, a metal key ring attachment, and the quick start guide.
A downloadable software application, an “app”, is required for your particular mobile device and this is available from the appropriate app store: either the Apple App Store or the Android Marketplace.
Other apps are available, for legacy devices, through SMS but you should check the mi-zone website to ensure your device is supported.
The tag itself is the core of the system and, at 32.5mm by 53.7mm, is around half the size of a typical business card and just a little deeper than an iPhone 4S – however its ideal place is on a key ring.
The tag is nicely presented with a hard white plastic frame, a clear plastic surround, a covered USB connector (on the base), and a single large button in the front centre surrounded by a decorative red border.
The large button (labelled mi-zone in the image) illuminates to indicate activity.
The included metal key ring hoop attaches to a cut-out at the top of the clear frame and, presumably, attaches to the chosen object, say a set of keys or a bag. The quick start guide should be the first port of call as it outlines the pairing process and explains that the tag needs to be paired using Bluetooth before being linked.
The tag needs to be charged which the instructions say should take around six to eight hours initially and around two hours from then on.
In Operation: mi-zone Proximity Alarm
When considering what the tag does the operational side is really quite straightforward and basically involves identifying the tag with the software application and configuring how you want the smart phone and the tag to react when they go out of range. For the mi-zone to operate you do need to have Bluetooth enabled.
As mentioned in the previous section the first step is to charge the mi-zone tag using the included USB cable and this cable is pretty short so choose a sensible USB port. When charging is complete the red indicator light on the tag should go out.
Once the mi-zone tag is fully charged you can disconnect the USB cable, close up the USB cover, and switch the tag on on by pressing and holding the centre button for around ten seconds which will put it into pairing mode (indicated by a double beep followed by a red flashing centre button).
- On the Apple iPhone (iOS version 5.1.1) head into Settings, General, Bluetooth, ensure Bluetooth is on and look for “Mi-Zone Tag”. Tapping the tag entry should pair to the iPhone. Upon successful pairing you should be asked if you want to install the application from the App Store.
- On the Samsung GALAXY Note (Android version 4.0.3) ensure you are on the home screen then tap the Menu soft button and head into Settings. From the Settings section head into Bluetooth and ensure Bluetooth is on. Look for “Mi-Zone Tag” and tap it to pair to the Note.
Once paired you need to head into the Mi-Zone application where you will see four icons: Link tags, Locate tags, Configure linked tags, and Help.
There are only minor visual differences between the Android and Apple versions of the Mi-Zone application as can be seen in the two images included here.
At this stage it may be worth tapping on the Help icon and reading through the short help section which gives a brief introduction to the three other icons available from the Mi-Zone home screen. After reading through the help section head back into the home page of the Mi-Zone application and select the “Link tags” icon.
As long as the tag is switched on, and nearby, it should be listed and you just need to tap on it to link it to your device. If the tag cannot be located ensure the red light is single flashing – if this is the case then check the Bluetooth settings to ensure the tag is properly paired.
If all goes well then at this point you will be asked to name the device and choose an alarm distance:
Because you can connect multiple tags it is a good idea to give each one a descriptive name so you can remember where they all are later (or where they are supposed to be).
There is no visible indicator or link on the tag to associate with a particular entry in the app but you can utilise the “Locate tags” icon to make the appropriate tag beep and flash.
There are three alarm distances: Short, Medium, and Long. The communication system uses Bluetooth and the distances are around 3 metres for Short, 6 metres for Medium, and around 9 metres for Long although I found this to vary quite a bit during the review depending on where I was (inside the house, outside, in a built-up building, in an office) so I would recommend trying the various options to see which works best for you. For this review I tended to stick to the Medium setting as it worked well in most situations.
One the name and distance are set you can choose to Link the tag and once the tag is linked several other items will become available: Flash, Vibrate, and Tone which can all be switched on or off depending on how discreet you wish to be and if the tone is switched on you can choose three tone modes: General, Discreet and Loud. During the review I tended to stick with General.
On this section it would have been useful to be able to preview each setting as the only way to tell the difference is to activate the alarm (by taking the tag out of range once the settings are saved).
Any of these items can be changed later from the “Configure linked tags” icon.
As far as configuration goes that is about it. When the device or the tag goes out of range things start to happen depending on how you have configured the tag. The first time it goes off is a surprise I can tell you and it certainly makes you realise you may have left something behind so in that sense the tag certainly does what it says on the tin.
When the alarm does sound on a mobile device you can opt to:
Sleep the alarm – presumably whilst you keenly look for it (you get ten seconds on sleep mode before the alarms kick off again).
Locate the tag – using a proximity display to indicate how far the tag is away (within the three available zones).
Switch off – if you happen to know that all is well. However, you need to remember that switching the tag off also un-links the tag from the Mi-Zone application so it will need to be re-linked before you can use it again.
An important consideration here is that the device is a two way proximity alarm with four modes of security so you can:
- Attach the mi-zone to one of your belongings and be alerted from a mobile device
- Keep the mi-zone in your pocket and be alerted when your mobile device goes out of range
- Locate your mobile device by long-pressing (around ten seconds) the button on the mi-zone
- Locate the mi-zone from a mobile device using a mobile application
During testing I did find that sometimes the alarm would activate even when the tag and smartphone were in proximity of each other – according to mi-zone this is simply a calibration issue, as they say “Your mi-zone is an incredibly smart device, and when you first use it, it needs to build a relationship with your device in order to offer the best and most accurate protection. This is called calibration. It can take up to 72 hours for this to fully take place depending on your handset. During this time your mi-zone may alert prematurely”.
In Summary: mi-zone Proximity Alarm
The mi-zone Proximity Alarm is a neatly presented product and a really useful tool to secure a mobile device and other valuables. The proximity system certainly seems to do the job and barring a few minor niggles I would recommend the system to anyone who has a tendency to accidentally “leave things behind” or for those looking for a little added peace of mind with regard to their valuables.
The mi-zone is currently available in three colours (pink, black and white) for an RRP of £39.99 although you can currently pick one up for £35.39 from Amazon (price checked 26th July 2012).
For more information head over to the mi-zone website.