I have to admit, I lead a pretty chaotic personal life, and keeping track of my personal belongings has never been a strong point. When I spent a record 45 minutes hunting all over my house for my keys last month, I decided enough was enough and bought a solution.
The one I went for was the “Find One, Find All” (or FOFA) system, since it was the most interesting options for finding personal keys at short range. Unlike the many gimmicky “whistle for your keys” fobs that have been around for ages and have a reputation for going off at random, FOFA uses short range radio, which makes it much more reliable.
How does FOFA work?
You need at least 2 devices, which can take the form of either a fob that attaches to your key ring, or a credit card-sized unit that fits in your wallet. As the name suggests, if you have one of these, you can use it to find the other. You do this by pressing the numbered button on the device that corresponds to the other device you are looking for. The system claims to be extensible up to 36 devices.
Here’s my verdict, after using FOFA for over a month now:
Reliability – 4/5
It’s pretty good. It has a decent range, though not quite enough to cover my whole house. This means that I sometimes have to try separately in different rooms to find my keys or wallet. Probably not helped by the fact that the modern wallet is stuffed full of contactless cards, metal objects (coins) and cardboard (loyalty cards)! The has never taken me more than 30 seconds, though!
The buttons of the device are very hard to accidentally press, and so far I’ve never set it off accidentally.
Looks & Practicality – 3/5
The designers have definitely put function over form. It isn’t beautiful, but then neither is anything else on my key ring (apart from my Keyzapp fob of course!). In order to fit the electronics, battery and buttons in, the fob is quite chunky, making my keys quite bulky. The “Credit Card” transmitter is probably about the thickness of 3 normal cards, so takes up quite a lot of space in my wallet.
The main flaw with the FOFA idea is that you need to have at least one device to find the other. So if you leave your wallet and your keys in the same place, and forget where it was, then you are back to hunting around. That said, in my case, I can normally lay my hands on at least one, so haven’t found it a major problem. Of course you could always buy another device and chain it to the front door or kitchen counter if you do want to prevent losing both devices.
Value for money – 4/5
The units aren’t exactly cheap, retailing at about £29.99 for 2 (I’ve seen them for less) but they’re not that dear either. If you constantly waste minutes hunting for your stuff, then FOFA is probably a good investment. I reckon I use mine 2-3 times a week, and it probably typically saves me 5-10 minutes a week. In my book, if it prevents one epic 45-minute key hunt, it will have paid for itself!
Overall verdict – 4/5
I definitely find my FOFA devices useful, and can put up with the chunky fobs. I would heartily recommend them as a gift for a friend or relative just as an efficiency saving for you.
Is there a commercial use for FOFA? There may be one out there, but I can’t see it working for Keyzapp customers, who typically manage more than 36 key rings. The cost and the need to be fiddling around with batteries make it impractical for large volumes of keys.
Have you found an innovative way to manage your personal keys? Do let me know and leave a comment below.