How to locate a hidden (or lost) Bluetooth device

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How to locate a hidden (or lost) Bluetooth device
Davide Boscolo / Unsplash

If you lose any of your devices, whether it’s wireless headphones, a smartphone, or a portable speaker, don’t feel bad. If these devices have Bluetooth turned on, you have a chance of finding them. However, if these devices are stolen, unfortunately, you won’t be able to locate them using Bluetooth. After all, Bluetooth has a certain range. Unless the thief is riding next to you on the subway with Bluetooth turned on on your stolen smartphone or your wireless headphones.

However, if you think that the device is somewhere near you, for example in your home, you can try to find it using a special application called Wunderfind. It works the same on your iPhone as it does on your Android device. Well, let’s take a closer look at how to find your Bluetooth-enabled device.

How does Wunderfind work?

All Bluetooth-enabled devices, when turned on, send out a constant signal that can be received by other Bluetooth-enabled devices. This is how they transmit data wirelessly and also connect devices.

The Wunderfind app for iPhone or Android can help you physically locate a lost, hidden, or unknown Bluetooth device with your smartphone using exactly the Bluetooth beacon property. These devices include laptops, tablets, smartphones, wireless headphones, smart watches and bracelets, smart home devices, and more. However, to locate any of these devices via Bluetooth signals, it must be enabled on those devices.

Wunderfind is a free app without intrusive ads. There are other Bluetooth tracking apps out there, but this one does a better job of searching than other similar apps. After all, what could be better than a free app without ads and unnecessary subscriptions, which does its job well with an accuracy of 1 meter? Eventually, you’ll be able to connect your wireless headphones again to Roku TV, for example, when you find them. Well, let’s figure out how to use it.

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How to find a hidden Bluetooth device using Wunderfind

To find an active Bluetooth device, first, download and install the Wunderfind app from the App Store if you have an iPhone, or from Google Play Market if you have an Android device. Then turn on Bluetooth on your mobile device and run the app. So, if you want to find a hidden Bluetooth device using the Wunderfind app on your mobile device, you have to follow these steps:

  • Once you have opened the Wunderfind app on your mobile device, wait a minute and let the app to scan the area around you.
  • After that, you should see several Bluetooth-enabled devices at different distances from you.
  • If you don’t see the name of the device (maybe you forgot that you could change the name of your Bluetooth device) that you lost, try to wander around the house or apartment and scan for places where your lost device might be.
  • If you see the name of your device, just tap on it.
  • Then, you will the scanning radar. Use it to find your device.
  • Finally, once you found your Bluetooth-enabled device, just tap on the “I found it!” button.

Once you have completed these steps, you will be able to find a hidden Bluetooth device using the Wunderfind app.

If the device is unknown and you can’t find it, it might be in someone else’s home, office, or apartment. The main thing is to think carefully about the places where there may be your lost item.

What are Bluetooth trackers?

The rise of Bluetooth Low Energy (known as BLE or Bluetooth 4.0) has opened the door to what can be done with Bluetooth devices. Now, instead of the old staples (such as Bluetooth headsets, speakers, and PC peripherals), manufacturers can pack Bluetooth into tiny devices that can run on a small battery for more than a year without replacing the battery or recharging.

One such application is tiny Bluetooth trackers, in which you can attach small tags to your keys, or bag, or insert them into accessory containers, tool cases, or other items you want to track (and not separate from). The tags are linked to your smartphone (and possibly to a tracking service hosted by the manufacturer) via BLE and form a radio link between you and your items.

How do Bluetooth trackers work?

Thanks to the BLE system, the Bluetooth tracker can keep in constant communication with your smartphone (which doesn’t particularly condition the battery life of your phone or the device battery because there’s little power during data exchange).

Because tracking devices communicate with your phone at all times, it’s easy for your phone (with the proper software from the tracker provider) to beep when you’re separated from the tracker and the object to which it’s attached.

Based on the specifics of the particular Bluetooth tracker you purchased and the accompanying software, the devices can do everything from chirp when you need to find them, alert you when you stray too far from the tracking tag, remind you where the tag was last seen, and even anonymously alert you if other users of the same tracking service are near your lost item.

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What can’t Bluetooth trackers do?

It’s important to highlight a very important detail (which is initially a bit confusing for consumers). Bluetooth tracking devices aren’t GPS devices. Let’s look at the hypothetical situation of a camera bag and a Bluetooth tracker and a GPS tracker to highlight the differences.

Scenario A

You have a GPS tracking device hidden in a small interior pocket inside your camera. The expensive GPS module includes both geospatial tracking through the GPS satellite system and a modest cellular radio so it can call the manufacturer to let you know where your camera bag is.

You leave your camera bag at the restaurant. Once you realize that your bag is no longer at your side, you pull out your smartphone and launch the tracking app. Not only does the tracking app tell you if your bag is still in the restaurant, but if someone picks up your bag and leaves with it while the GPS tracker has battery life left (and the person with your bag does not find it or remove it) you can get real-time tracking results indicating where your bag is at the moment, not just where it was last with you.

Scenario B

You have a Bluetooth tracking device hidden in the same camera bag, and you leave it in the same restaurant. You leave the restaurant and realize that you no longer have the camera bag. You pull out your smartphone and launch the tracking app.

The tracking app tells you the last place where it had access to the tracking tag (the restaurant), but it can’t tell you if the bag is there or not (and it can’t track the bag if it left the restaurant).

If you go back to where you last saw the camera bag and it’s still there, the Bluetooth tracker will reconnect to the device when you get close and show you where it is. However, if the bag is missing, there’s nothing you can do with the Bluetooth tracker or a companion app because the whole process is based on proximity.

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