Small cybersecurity firm Berkeley Varitronics Systems (BVS) may soon have a solution to the Apple AirTag stalking problem through its BlueSleuth-Lite detector.
It works by detecting “all major BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) trackers” including the aforementioned AirTags, Galaxy Smart Tags, plus future devices that’ll support the standard like earbuds. If multiple gadgets are detected nearby, the BlueSleuth’s screen will list them out “according to signal strength” with trackers being given the highest priority. Users will see the misplaced item’s name, company icon, and when it was last detected on the screen. It won’t tell you exactly where a tracker can be found, but you should locate suspicious devices by using the signal strength as a barometer.
The BlueSleuth-Lite itself “is small enough to fit” in the palm of your hand. Inside is a lithium-ion battery with enough charge to last a full day supporting both wired and wireless charging. Operation is simple, according to BVS. The company states it comes with a “two-way rocker/push button” that can be used to navigate through BlueSleuth’s menu to find trackers or configure its settings. BVS states its detector has a maximum range of 75 feet, however, you can adjust the BlueSleuth-Lite’s sensitivity so it only sniffs out trackers close to you. Given its small size, you can fit it on a keychain and take the detector with you everywhere you go.
Originally, Bluetooth trackers like the Apple AirTag were designed to help people find lost or stolen items. However, over the past couple of years or so, there have been numerous reports of these devices being misused as an “inexpensive, effective” way to stalk people. Apple has introduced anti-stalking features giving iPhone owners a way to detect uninvited AirTags on their person, but it isn’t perfect. BVS claims warning notifications may take hours or even days “after the tracker has already been hidden” to reach your phone. Plus, Android devices can’t detect AirTags without a third-party app so those users are out of luck if someone drops one on them. And there’s the possibility that an uninvited AirTag has had its speaker removed so the alarm won’t sound off.
There are so many ways bad actors can get around current barriers. With the BlueSleuth-Lite, these flaws in BLE trackers are seemingly addressed. You don’t need a third-party app, it vibrates to alert people, and it can, assuming it works as promised, immediately identify hidden tags.
The launch date for the BlueSleuth-Lite appears to be set for June 2023. Prior to this, BVS had a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to create the detector. The goal has already been met, however, there’s a bit of room left for additional backers. Pledging $499 (around £411 / AU$765) with net you a single BlueSleuth-Lite with the higher tiers offering more units. Unfortunately, BVS states the price tag will probably jump an extra 25 percent to cover additional development. Doing the math, the BlueSleuth-Lite could go for over $600 (around £494 / AU$898) at launch.
So, definitely an expensive piece of equipment. If you’re looking for a more affordable way to protect your privacy, be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the best privacy tools for 2023.