HomingPIN: Keep Honest People Honest by Identifying Your Gear

Most smartphones include a way for owners to send a message to anyone who might find their device when it’s lost, but there are plenty of items that don’t have that capability. Let’s say you left your laptop bag in a cab, could an honest person figure out an easy way to return it to you? With HomingPIN, they could.

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True story: Two years ago at Dell World, I lost my Canon G9 camera. I left it on a table in the convention center’s dining hall, and when I came back, it was gone. I checked with Lost and Found immediately after, but it hadn’t been turned in. Lost and Found wouldn’t take my information, and I was told to keep checking back … which I did, but I ultimately went home the next day without my camera. If there had been some kind of way to identify me as the camera’s owner, I’d like to think that whoever picked it up would have tried to contact me. But I digress.

I was sent an assortment of HomingPIN products to test, but the one that most stands out — because it is most complete for a new user — is the standard pack shown here. Inside there are three loops for your bags or keys, a key ring, and 12 asset labels (in two color schemes and sizes) for your phones, cameras, laptops, wallets, passports, bikes — or anything else you can stick a label on.

Let’s get one thing straight from the start: If someone means to steal your gear, it really doesn’t matter what you stick or attach to it, they are going to remove it and carry off their new acquisition. But I think that the majority of people who come across a bag or mobile device are honest, and the only thing that might keep them from being able to get your gear back to you is that there might not be any way for them to figure out who to contact.

So this is one of the included loops and tags. It can go on anything with a handle or strap, and it has a unique serial number on it that you’ll enter into your account at the HomingPIN site.

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Once the tag has been attached to your luggage or gear bag, anyone who finds it will have an easily understood way to let you know that your item has been found.

The finder simply connects to the owner by going online to homingpin.com, or if an airport by using their WorldTracer system for baggage handling. By inputting their details and the homingPIN number(s) found a text message is sent instantly to the owner. The finder is not given information about the owner.

Also included in the standard pack are stickers that can be placed in or on nearly everything.

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The stickers aren’t too obnoxious, and the peace of mind is a fair trade-off.

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On the HomingPIN site, you register the stickers and tags that have been assigned to you. Tags all have individual numbers, and stickers on a single sheet all share the same number.

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The on a trip/itinerary feature is the only part of the HomingPIN process that I wish was a bit more automated. I’d love to see integration with TripIt, as that would make remembering to enter itineraries that much easier. The good news is that you don’t necessarily even have to bother with this; if your bag is found by someone, that person just needs to go to the HomingPIN site, enter your number, and you will be contacted.

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All of the stickers on a single sheet share the same number, so you can go in and individually add devices that are on that HomingPIN account. It should go without saying that if you don’t activate your tags by creating an account and entering your numbers, HomingPIN has no way of helping you should you lose an item.

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If you lose a bag or device, you can fill out a report on the HomingPIN site. I don’t know that this necessarily will speed the process of being reunited with you bag or device, but it is something that may help you feel like you are “doing something” while you wait for an honest person to find your item and contact you.

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The finder simply connects to the owner by going online to homingpin.com, or if an airport by using their WorldTracer system for baggage handling. By inputting their details and the homingPIN number(s) found a text message is sent instantly to the owner. The finder is not given information about the owner.

The owner then contacts the finder and arranges to get their property back. We provide 2 ways to make that happen:

1. For airlines we provide the airline with information on where the bag is instantly it is found. They will then contact you and arrange for immediate transfer. No more waiting for them to find your bags, and you no longer wait in frustration to hear about when you will get them back.

2. Where property is found anywhere else we can provide, at reasonable cost, a method of getting your property back from anywhere in the world. That includes luggage when the owner has returned home internationally.

To me, HomingPIN is similar to putting a lock on a gate; it’s there to keep honest people honest. It won’t tell you where your item was left, but it will make sure that anyone who finds it has the option of doing the right thing and returning it to you.

I like the peace of mind I get knowing that if I accidentally leave something behind somewhere, I’ve done what I could to make sure that whoever finds it can contact me — if they are so inclined. That alone is worth the cost of a pack.

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The Standard HomingPIN pack retails for $20, and it is available directly from the manufacturer. There is also a Starter pack that includes one loop and tag, one key ring, and four stickers available for $10.
All HomingPIN packs come with a 12-month subscription included. Thereafter a low annual subscription fee is $8 per year, which covers up to 30 items

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample of the HomingPIN system

What I Like: Easy system designed to connect you with the person who finds your lost items; reasonably priced; uses the WorldTracer system, which is used by baggage handlers at every airline; Provides peace of mind that you’ve done all you can do to make it easy for honest people to reunite you with your lost gear

What Needs Improvement: I’d like to see integration with TripIt for automatic itinerary entry

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct smaller.com; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.

7 Comments on "HomingPIN: Keep Honest People Honest by Identifying Your Gear"

  1. cromartie79 | July 3, 2015 at 12:04 pm |

    Consider my name in the hat. Started travelling a lot for business and can see these being a lifesaver in the unfortunate event stuff goes missing.

  2. Hi, great idea. Wish you much success. Also, would like to win a free one 🙂 Best, Mike

  3. Just noticed you are reviewing the product, but still wish you much success! Like the idea of TripIt integration too.

  4. andrew_lee | July 3, 2015 at 8:30 pm |

    This does seem like a great idea. Unfortunately, there are enough thieves and people who would simply take advantage of someone else’s loss that one of these days, and owner of a lost item will contact the finder (or thief) only to get a demand for a “reward” or a ransom. Still, I expect that this will generally be helpful.

  5. littletechgiant | July 4, 2015 at 9:43 am |

    They’ve worked hard on this… I’m very interested in which situations they have and haven’t addressed. Thanks, as always, Gear Diary, for an interesting and timely post!

  6. Hi all, thanks for the comments! The winners are: inidaho, littletechgiant, and cromartie79. Please send an email to [email protected], and I’ll get your starter pack out to you ASAP! =)

  7. littletechgiant | July 10, 2015 at 9:50 am |

    Wow… thanks, Judie and Gear Diary…! Congrats to inidaho and cromartie79!

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