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Page last updated at 17:21 GMT, Friday, 12 March 2010

Gadgets secure the wallet, phone and home

By Spencer Kelly
Presenter, BBC Click

Devices such as mobile phones and portable media players are very attractive to thieves.

Thankfully technology can help prevent valuable gadgets falling into the wrong hands.

Video streaming on the internet is also empowering home owners to keep an eye on the house while they are out.


One way to keep your wallet safe is ensuring that no-one else can get to the contents of it - that's the idea behind the iWallet.

It has a hard case with a fingerprint reader which requires the rightful owner to swipe their finger before the wallet opens up.

Being Bluetooth-enabled also means it can be paired with a handset that alerts the user when the wallet is removed and the connection drops off.

Bluetooth only has a limited range so an alarm is triggered when a mobile phone and the iWallet are separated by more than a few metres.

The inventor, Steven Cabouli, said he came up with the idea after falling victim to a pickpocket.

"I was at a busy airport overseas, and someone stole my wallet. I felt so bad, my identity was stolen, everything," he said.

"It occurred to me to come up with something hi-tech. I looked around, there was nothing out there. So I decided to create my own hi-tech wallet".

Nio tag

Nio is another security system that uses Bluetooth technology to keep valuables safe - software links electronic tags to mobile phones and PDAs.

The tags are attached to personal belongings such as cameras, wallets and handbags.

"If somebody were to walk off with your laptop bag, your phone alarm would go off as soon as they got too far away from you. The briefcase would also be alarming at the same time, so the person would probably drop the bag and go off," said Jessica Williamson from the Nio creator TenBu Technologies.

She added it could also help someone when they get distracted and leave their gadgets behind.

"If you were to leave your phone behind and leave the rest of your belongings, all of them would alarm and your phone would also be beeping where you left it," she said.

Users can tweak the software in their handset to select a low or high-risk level for each tag - this determines how far it is allowed to stray before the alarm goes off.

Schedules can also be set up to automatically enable and disable security at different times of each day.

AlertMe home system

Home security cameras are common-place these days, but most only help identify intruders after they have broken into a house.

The AlertMe home monitoring system sends the home owner an SMS message or an e-mail as soon as a sensor is breached.

A box-style hub controller connects to the internet via a broadband router while managing motion detectors, door sensors, panic buttons and cameras.

Up to four cameras can record pictures at the same time on to an SD card, and as Rovio can sense motion and use infrared, owners can watch edited key moments when they get home.

If the power or the internet is down, the hub's battery backup and GSM SIM card still get the message out.

The motion sensitive camera also uploads what it sees to the web, which means the footage is safely stored off property, preventing the thief from destroying the evidence.

But the $350 (£250) system does not sound a loud external alarm or contact the police, so users away from their mobile phone or e-mail, will not find out about the break-in until later.

Rovio robot

For more mobile home monitoring, Rovio is a wi-fi enabled webcam on wheels which can be controlled remotely.

The robot connects to the outside world over a wireless router. On a web browser, the user can steer it around the house and through it see, hear or talk back.

When its battery is running out, the robot finds the way back to its charging station thanks to an infrared homing beacon that bounces off the ceiling.

Furniture and stairs pose a barrier to the device and it is extremely difficult to steer if there is too much delay over the internet.

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