BOULDER — A University of Colorado Boulder student has created a device that will not only help people find their lost goods, but also prevent them from even getting lost in the first place.
The Mu Tag is a new tracker device from Lang Mei, an international student from China who graduates in May after just three years in undergrad.
Crowdfunding for the tag has more than doubled its goal: With 11 days remaining in its Kickstarter campaign, 777 backers have raised more than $60,700 for a $25,000 goal.
The key feature is that it keeps you from leaving a location without your item in the first place.
“The most fundamental aspect is that it prevents it from happening,” Mei told BizWest, “rather than focus on helping find an item if it’s lost. It takes time to find things if they’re lost, and time is important.”
Mu Tag, created by Mei’s startup Informu, works by attaching to belongings and connecting through the app. It then syncs with your calendar to remind you of things such as your passport before a flight or GPS to remind you where your car is located. Mei described it as a “virtual leash” between you and your items.
Because of the preventative focus, Mei said Mu Tag is as much an organizing tool as it is loss-prevention and tracking. A major target market is travelers, who have a long list of items they need to remember to bring and the hectic schedule that can make leaving something behind easy. Mei said the Mu Tag was started after his own personal story of having luggage stolen while in Paris. Wanting to keep it from happening again, a feature of the Mu Tag is to alert a person when they’re a certain distance from the item their tracker is on — a distance that can be adjusted based on the preferences of the user.
In addition to alerts, the tag brings in data such as your calendar, location and area weather, and has machine-learning capabilities to recognize patterns to remind you of things before you think to ask it to locate without overloading with notifications. Mei said it can even remind you to bring a jacket ahead of stepping outside.
“That’s the smart part,” he said. “We don’t want to be annoying to our user. This enables us to not just become a loss prevention device but a personal organizer solution for someone who always forgets the important things.”
For those reasons, Mu Tag is different than other popular trackers already on the market, such as Tile and Trackr, which have more of a focus on finding items that are misplaced.
There are other differentiators, he said. Mu Tag is smaller than those trackers, works without needing to be connected through Bluetooth and has a rechargeable and replaceable battery.
With the Kickstarter nearing its last week, Mu Tag should be shipped for delivery in December. Informu is seeking manufacturers and assemblers now, but Mei said the plan is to have the product assembled in Colorado.
With the additional funds, Mei said the team of four at Informu will be able to manufacture the product without struggling to get by.
“It’s hard to balance being a student and running a company,” Mei said. “I’ve had to learn time management, which is the most essential skill I’ve learned. I started really working on this in September 2015, so it’s been a long time.”
And it’s not just having his tag hit production that makes him proud.
“I’m graduating CU in just three years,” he said. “So I’m pretty proud of that for myself and my parents.”