NEW YORK (
) -- Losing your car keys these days is a big, expensive deal. Smart keys with anti-theft chips inside aren't cheap to replace.
If you carry around a set of late-model car keys, you face several hundreds of dollars in replacement costs. I write from experience after losing my own keys on a recent road trip. (We weren't driving my car so I didn't notice until 1,000 miles later.) Replacing my lost
Prius smart key cost nearly $400. I'm saving up to replace the second car's smart key.
Smarter people than myself have invented technology to find lost things and several launched this year on popular crowdfunding sites. While
Clapper-inspired key finders
are available, perhaps this new class was inspired by a desire to create a better high-tech lost and found. Here's hoping that mixing lost things with technology and mobile apps will get us to a point where we can always find our keys. A few of the new hopefuls:
Hone, a successful Kickstarter project from Geoffrey Litwack, is part gadget, part mobile app. The sleek key fob relies on Bluetooth to pair it with one's iPhone and related app. Tap the Hone app's "find" button and your keys start beeping. Don't hear them? Walk around. A built-in proximity sensor shows you when you're getting closer.
Hone has a 164-foot range and the low-power communicator lasts up to 6 months. One phone can pair with multiple Hones -- up to 128, says Litwack. And if you lose both phone and keys? Call your phone! Hone plans to start selling products to the public in March for $60 at
Stick-N-Find's low-energy stickers are the size of a quarter and they stick to anything -- keys, phones, kids and pets. Of course, they cost more than a quarter. With built-in Bluetooth, a light and other electronics, the stickers communicate with a nearby smartphone.
Using an iPhone or Android app, you get a visual idea of where the lost object is located within a 100-foot range. It'll even notify you if a sticker suddenly goes out of range, as demonstrated in the company's video of a little girl running out of a playground and her mom scrambling after her -- that would have come in handy when my keys went missing on my road trip.