This is a quick unboxing / set-up / review of the Chipolo. This was a nifty piece of schwag from the Twitter Developer Relations team, to whom I’m grateful.
The Chipolo is a multi-purpose Bluetooth Low Energy tag. It’s like a high-tech version of one of those things which you attach to your keyring which will beep when whistled at.
As the box says, it will work up to 60 meters away. It’ll beep when you lose it, and it can make your phone beep if someone moves it out of range – handy if someone is stealing your wallet. What’s not mentioned on the box is the fact that it has a temperature sensor. No, I’ve no idea why either.
The contents of the box are sparse, but functional. Two batteries, a keyring, and a basic instruction leaflet.
Let’s take a look at how it is set up and used.
The Chipolo Android app gets poor reviews, but the Chipolo team are very responsive and working hard on improving it. I found that the app crashed a couple of times and didn’t seem particularly intuitive. It performs its basic tasks well enough – showing me how far away the beacon was and making it beep when triggered.
The base cost of the Chipolo is €25 each – plus €9 shipping! That feels like quite a hefty price – especially considering that generic BLE finder tags cost around €10 delivered on AliExpress.
If you buy a 9 pack, the Chipolos work out at €22.22 each. A reasonable discount, but they’re not a cheap.
The only Open Source provided by Chipolo themselves seems to be for translating their website.
The Chipolo is quite a cool device. If you’re constantly losing your keys or wallet, I can see how useful it could be. They also suggest that the tracker could be attacked to a pet’s collar. But given how fragile the device is, the lack of range, and the fact it is not waterproof, it’s hard to see it as a practical choice.
For the price, I’d have expected a much more robust device. It does feel like it will fall apart quite easily.
There are some rather “forced” features. I doubt anyone is going to shake the Chipolo to take a selfie – but it does show that it could work as a motion sensor alarm. I also struggle to see the use of the temperature sensor.
Theoretically, if you lose your Chipolo then other users’ phones can sense it and automagically tell you where it is. Frankly that’s going to rely on a critical mass of users which just isn’t here yet.
It works and, providing the 6 months battery life prediction is accurate, should be a useful addition to my growing stash of gadgets.