Does this thing exist?
January 21, 2017 10:36 PM   Subscribe

A key rack that can be mounted on the wall that will beep when the set of keys is in close range (say, 10 feet) and then stop beeping when they keys are hung on the rack? I need something to remind someone to hang up their keys each time they walk in the door. I have seen Trackr, etc. and that is not what I am looking for; I don't want the keys to get lost in the first place. Thanks.
posted by tippy to Technology (13 answers total)
See if something here doesn't work for you.
posted by watercarrier at 10:48 PM on January 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Watercarrier, most of those wouldn't work if the person holding the keys doesn't remember to use it in the first place. They mostly just look like cute hooks for the keys in your pocket, and if you walk right past them with the keys still in your pocket then it's pointless.

Except that USB one, though...might there be a way to hack the workings inside either the key fob or the holder so that it's got a sensor that beeps or flashes?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:30 AM on January 22, 2017

You could go to a fabric store and find an unusual 2-piece connector, attach one end to the keychain and the other to a plain keyrack. Hopefully the feel and fit of this will compel people to click them together when they pass by.
posted by nickggully at 6:17 AM on January 22, 2017

Part of an easy solution- if you can find or make a circuit that does the proximal beeping, you can hang the keys on a microswitch that breaks the circuit.
posted by JMOZ at 6:28 AM on January 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

RFID proximity detection seems to be a current research topic, not a thing in consumer goods. Cheap IR proximty detectors detect all things, not a specific thing.

If you want this I think you'll have to make it, and I think the key fob has to have a battery and Always be transmitting, and the key hanger has to have power and a computer and always be listening.

Doable for some people, but I'd not attempt, and instead focus on learning good key habits.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:40 AM on January 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

How many sets of keys does it need to handle? Or would you be willing to have a different hanger for each set of keys?

The proximity sensors they use on car keys work by having the car interrogate the key fob by radio. You could definitely do the same thing here, but you'd either have to customize the hanger to work with the key fob for each different car, or you'd have to have a second key fob attached to the keys that only works with the key hanger.

Both approaches are kind of involved; I don't know whether there's an off-the-shelf solution to do what you want.
posted by spacewrench at 6:45 AM on January 22, 2017

There has to be a way to program this via an alarm clock-- inserting the key ensures the alarm doesn't go off. I would probably build a key holder around an alarm clock with a stop/start button that is physically depressed only by the key.
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:34 AM on January 22, 2017

It's easier to just rig up something that says "Please hang up the keys" every time the door opens. The annoyance factor might quickly produce the intended behavior.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:36 AM on January 22, 2017 [5 favorites]

It looks like it's possible to DIY an RFID item tracking system, as this person has done. I got curious and looked at library security gate systems and they're probably out of budget for you, and this is the closest DIY option. Here, if the keys pass through the gate the alarm rings.

I think you could alternatively use a barcode scanner and barcode keyfob-- scan the keyfob at the rack to prevent the horrible alarm. This seems like a job for a cuecat and Arduino? I don't know enough about that to tell you.
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:53 AM on January 22, 2017

RFID to detect that the fob is nearby, which triggers the beeping. A switch that trips under the weight of keys on a small hook to end it. Arduino to make that stuff happen. Program it to wait ~10 minutes or whatever to start beeping again once the keys are removed so you can get out of range before the beeping starts when you leave the house.

If you're not up to this and you live somewhere that has a decent makerspace, someone there could slap this together in a weekend for money or baked goods or something.
posted by cmoj at 7:58 AM on January 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yes! The technology that might help in searches is "bluetooth beacons" or maybe just "beacons". Google has a variant called "Eddystone", and there are apps for both iOS and Android.

If you're ok with a phone alerting you that you're near the key box and you're ok with installing mobile Chrome, then things get a bit simpler. Basically, you buy a beacon, register it with Google, and place the beacon near the key box. This approach would use Google's Physical Web . Here's a walkthrough that might be of help. I have not used this, so I can't say for sure how well it would work, but it's a way to get started for under $15.

You can buy beacons at several companies. Radius Networks for example (full disclosure, I used to work there). Radius also has various software and software development kits which might be of interest if you happen to be a developer. There are other sellers of beacons too, Estimote is another company that sells beacons.

It's certainly possible to develop something more customized to your needs, even to the point of not needing a phone at all. But I don't know of an off the shelf product. You can reach out to the people at Radius Networks directly. They might know of a specific product or solution. Or feel free to me-mail me.
posted by forforf at 9:49 AM on January 22, 2017

Depending on the kind of person this is, you could use a Skinner box/videogame strategy: Make the keyhook play some happy victory music whenever the key is placed on it. For best results, have it rotate randomly through three or four different victory tunes. IF the novelty keeps them doing it for the first week or two, at that point it becomes habituated and not hearing the tune will remind them to put the keys back on the hook.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 12:45 PM on January 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

If the person has an android phone you can do something like using Tasker to play an alarm sound when the person's phone connects to the home wifi network (ie every time they come home) or you can set tasker to play an alarm sound when the phone's GPS indicates it's within 30 feet of a given locaiton.
posted by gregr at 1:39 PM on January 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

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