LOST AND FOUND

Google wants to make sure you never lose your phone again

Jumping out of a cab, heading out of the bar, walking out the front door—it happens to everyone. Losing or forgetting your phone can, at the very least, be an annoying hustle. But a new patent from Google wants to ensure you’re never without your phone again, as long as you have a wearable as well.

Google’s patent, published today (Oct. 27), outlines a way of connecting two or more devices using NFC—the same wireless technology used in Apple Pay, and Android Pay. NFC communication tends to only work when devices are physically close to each other. In the patent, one device would be able to detect if another connected device moved out of its NFC range. This means that while you’re out and about, if you become separated from your phone—whether you leave it somewhere, or perhaps someone nabs it out of your pocket—your wearable would alert you.

While the range on most applications of NFC today tends to be tiny—like the distance between an iPhone and a card reader—it’s possible for devices to communicate about a 1.5 inches apart. That’s still a lot closer than most people would tend to have their phone and wearable devices, though the patent suggests that NFC could be used in conjunction with “other range-based sensors,” possibly extending the range at which it tracks your personal cloud of devices.

(US Patent and Trademark Office/Google)

While NFC is generally only found in smartphones and wearables, the patent also suggests that radio chips could be installed in laptops, tablets, portable gaming devices, or anything we carry around with us that we wouldn’t particularly enjoy losing.

Google wasn’t immediately available for comment on whether it was looking into implementing this concept into Android, and there’s no guarantee that the company will turn this patent into a product. But it’d be a welcome addition to the increasingly costly array of devices that we carry with us each day—especially for the forgetful amongst us.

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