Cork firm aims to e-tag 600 million smart phones


18 Mar 2008

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A Cork-based firm which offers an innovative service reuniting lost laptops with their owners is set to launch a new electronic tagging technology aimed at the 600 million new smart phones and 100 million laptops shipping worldwide every year.

Frank Hannigan, managing director of YouGetItBack.com, has received support from Enterprise Ireland and private investors to develop a unique electronic tagging technology that will help users track lost or stolen laptops and even build up a warrant against the thief.

The company, whose customers include Tesco, O2, Deloitte, Vodafone and Astra Zeneca, has developed new software which it intends to introduce for the application layer of various mobile devices ranging from BlackBerry and Symbian devices to iPhone, Linux and Google Android devices.

“Over the past three years, we’ve built up the services to help reunite people with their lost devices using our physical tags and we realise that it can extend to a lot more to include anything from glasses to car keys.”

Hannigan said the company will bring out a beta version of the software which can be downloaded onto a variety of devices, starting with BlackBerry and Symbian devices in April. He added that a laptop version of the software will also be available to download.

“The electronic tags include the same function as the physical tags to make it easy for a good person who finds a lost device to get in touch with us and we’ll reunite the owner with the device.

“The software will lock down the device and if it was stolen would make it impossible for the thief to sell it on. Another feature will be elements to give people resources to actively pursue the thief.

“If the device is switched on, the software automatically finds a wireless connection and the owner can locate it on Google Maps. The software includes a toolkit to help the owner build up a case for a warrant against the thief.”

Hannigan explained that a number of large companies in the technology business – including a laptop manufacturer which ships 32 million laptops a year – have expressed an interest in the technology.

“Losing stuff is universal – but with electronic tags for phones and laptops we can now start addressing the issue of bad people stealing your stuff. This will be really empowering.

“This will help to drive the second phase of YouGetItBack.com’s business,” Hannigan said.

Hannigan said the development of the e-tagging product was enabled by an R&D investment of €1.15m, which was supported by Enterprise Ireland.

“We’re living in a digital world where it’s possible for a bad guy who steals your laptop to get access to your data, steal your identity and money from your bank, unless your data is locked down. This era is upon us now.”

By John Kennedy