DEWALT has released Tool Connect: 2.0Ah and 5.0Ah battery packs which have Bluetooth capabilities allowing communication with smartphones and tablets using the DEWALT Tool Connect app.
The Android and iOS app features inventory management of multiple batteries, remote battery disablement (and consequently, the tool), charge and condition monitoring and battery location with custom alerts and access to manuals and service agent information.
The Bluetooth range is limited to 30 metres but DEWALT says this isn’t restricted to line of site and the app can communicate through walls.
I’ve been using the Tool Connect 5.0Ah battery for three months and I would definitely use it, particularly on a big construction site.
The locator tool is great for always knowing where your tools are on site and I’ve used it to find my tools if they’ve been taken. It does only have a 30 metre range but if it goes out of that it will give you the last seen location.
The battery life is quite long and the app allows you to track the charge which was really handy. You can have multiple batteries all linked up to your phone and be able to get the charge level or location for each one.
Being able to disable the batteries when I’m going to lunch or leaving at the end of the day is also really useful although I did find that occasionally it would disable itself while I was using the tool and I’d have to get my phone out to enable it again.
One thing I did find a little annoying were the alerts. You can put them on to tell you the health and temperature of the battery and the charge remaining, but then my phone kept going off so I ended up turning them off.
The other thing is that even with the disable function and the locator tool, someone could just steal your tool and use another battery in it, so it’s not foolproof unfortunately, but it’s a step in the right direction.
While it is fantastic to see the Internet of Things making its way into power tools, it would be great to see the tracking capabilities this technology offers implemented to really stamp down on tool theft or loss.
Independent applications and coin sized tracking chips such as Tile App or TrackR have been out for a couple of years now and offer Google Maps integrated real time location identification (or last known location) of the device being tracked, as well as hotter/colder distance tracking and an audible alarm rather than a flashing light.
What’s more, if you set your chip to lost or stolen and it comes within Bluetooth range of any OTHER users who have the app installed you will receive a GPS update of where your item was last seen – wherever that is.
Given the size of the power tool industry, the widespread implementation of this technology by power tool companies has the ability to radically reduce tool theft.