The simplest, cheapest child-tracking device we’ve tested, the B’zT is a machine washable t-shirt starting at $39 that tells you when your child has wandered off. It uses Bluetooth to connect to your phone, and issues an alarm when the shirt is no longer within close range. It’s an intriguing solution for kids who are likely to rip other wearable trackers off, but it doesn’t give you enough information about what to do when your child has wandered off. We recommend trackers with GPS or calling capabilities for that, if you can afford them, like our Editors’ Choices, the Jiobit and the Republic Wireless Relay.
A Patchy Solution
B’ZT’s basic product is a $25, sew-on fabric patch, about 1.3 inches in diameter, with a Bluetooth beacon in it, that comes in one of seven designs. (There’s an eighth design for $34.99.) It’s cute, durable, machine-washable (but air dry, please), and doesn’t look or feel like a tracker in any way.
It’s definitely a design for young children. The character design on the patch reminds me a lot of the “Charlie and Lola” TV show, which my daughter adored when she was five.
If you don’t sew patches, you can also get the patch pre-sewn onto a range of solid color or pattern T-shirts, for $39 to $59 total. The shirts are soft, 100 percent cotton, machine washable, and come in sizes for ages four to 12. One of the things I like most about the designs is that they aren’t aggressively gendered—it’s just a bunch of bold colors and generally space-related designs. Small children of all sorts will find these appealing.
The Bluetooth beacon embedded in the patch runs on Bluetooth 4.2 and has a tiny, 160mAh coin cell battery in it. The battery is not replaceable, but it lasts a year. This isn’t as annoying as it sounds, because at that point, your five-year-old has probably started to outgrow the shirt. And it’s great that you don’t have to remember to recharge it.
The companion app is about as simple as you can get. You can pair and name up to five tags just by scanning for them when you’re near one. Each tag can only be paired to one phone at a time. If your device is near a scanned tag, that tag appears as a green circle on your screen. If the tag goes out of range, the circle turns orange and your phone sounds an alarm. A map screen shows the last GPS location of your phone when it was connected to the tag, along with the time and date.
We did five tests and found that the tags disconnected when they were 80 to 120 feet from the phone, depending on walls and corners. They tended to reconnect at 70 to 80 feet.
Bluetooth 4.2, fortunately, doesn’t take a lot out of your phone’s battery, but it’s still a noticeable amount. On a Samsung Galaxy S8, turning scanning on was eating about seven to eight percent of the phone’s battery per hour. You can flip a switch in the app to turn scanning off when you’re not worried about losing your child.
The problem is, there’s no way to take action when you find out your kid has wandered off. All you know is that they’ve wandered off—not where, or how to contact them. That additional information is the big advantage of GPS wearables like the Jiobit or the LG GizmoPal 2.
Unlike with the Tile Pro Sport, a Bluetooth-based tracker for less animate objects, there’s also no way to make the B’zT tag vibrate or sound an alarm to help you find it. Often, kids don’t even know if they’re lost—they drifted away while looking at a cool bug, for instance.
The B’zT might have its greatest success being used as part of school or camp uniforms. The company has versions of the app that can monitor 30 tags at once, and a version that works with a scanner to record check-in and check-out tags for up to 500 people at a time. That means teachers can use this to verify whether students are on campus or staying with a field trip group.
Comparisons and Conclusions
As a simple proximity sensor, the B’zT is the absolute minimum in tracking. In my mind, it doesn’t provide enough useful data to solve an individual parent’s worries about where their kid ran off to.
But it’s really cheap, doesn’t require charging, and has no subscription fee, which makes it different from every other child tracker. That means it could be useful for parents who don’t want to commit to a monthly fee, and who just want to know their children are nearby. Schools and organizations can also use the B’zT to keep groups of children together or in the same building.
That said, for individual purchase, we still prefer the Jiobit for real tracking, and the LG GizmoGadget for tracking and communication.