Loss Prevention Feature for Apple Devices

A Proactive Item Loss Prevention Feature Using the Apple Watch and Bluetooth Technology


Product Experience

Problem Space

Problem Statement  

We live in a world where losing valuable items is a common occurrence and part of the human experience. In an increasingly connected society, electronics such as smartphones and laptops play a prominent role in our daily lives. The mere thought of losing these items and the critical data they contain, can put us in a state of immediate stress. This is why we want to make such an experience a thing of the past for Apple product users. We aim to enhance existing technologies like smart wearables by introducing an innovative solution designed to prevent the loss of valuable electronically enabled belongings in the first place. Subsequently, this solution will help alleviate the fear and anxiety often associated with such experience.

Problem Background  

Since Apple users are our targeted customers, we want to focus on valuables such as cellphones, laptops, key fobs, air pods, and tablets produced by the Apple brand. This concept caters to anyone who wants to prevent the loss or theft of these items, making it a widespread consumer-focused solution. Additionally, there may be secondary customers, such as businesses or organizations that provide such technology as a value-added service to their employees or members.

The key problem this solution addresses is the recurring experience of losing valuable electronic items or having them stolen. Advancements in technology, growing privacy concerns, and user demand make it timely to address this issue.

It is a well-established fact that people commonly lose or have valuable items stolen at some point in their lives. This is supported by anecdotal evidence, surveys, and data on lost and found items. We know that existing solutions, such as GPS tracking devices, already address the problem, but these solutions are post-loss in nature. Market research and consumer demand surveys suggest that there is a demand for more proactive loss prevention solutions. Smartwatches and Bluetooth technology are readily available and widely used, forming the technological basis for this concept.

We know this pain to be a problem for the following reasons:

  1. User Complaints and Anecdotes: Individuals frequently express their frustration and inconvenience when they lose valuable items or have them stolen, underscoring the problem's existence.
  1. Market Analysis: Market research and the proliferation of GPS tracking devices and anti-theft solutions indicate a market need for better solutions. Since its launch in April 2021 until December 2022, Apple has sold about 55 million AirTag units and generated $1 billion in revenue. Tile on the other hand, Apple’s largest competitor in this area, have sold 40 million units of its technology thus far. This illustrates the need for people to protect their valuable belongings. 
  1. Law Enforcement Data: Law enforcement agencies deal with a high volume of lost and stolen property cases, further confirming the prevalence of the issue.

Research Insights

Although based on our survey, some participants have mentioned losing their wallet and other non-electronic items, and expressed the need to prevent it from happening, we are focusing exclusively on electronic belongings. This is why we narrowed it down to Laptops, Cellphones, AirPods, Tablets and Key Fobs within the iOS ecosystem. The reason is due to technical limitations that come with having a functional and easy to use feature. The wearable Apple watch being the basis of our solution, any device that will be linked to it, needs to have bluetooth technology built in and a working battery. Extending this feature to items such as a wallet will require building new hardware which is something we are trying to stay away from. We want to simplify our solution by leveraging existing technology.  

Supporting Data

Out of the 14 different questions we asked to our 10 participants in the survey, the answers to the following four questions validate our problem statement and confirm there is a market for a preventive solution to this problem. 

Question 1: Can you share any personal experiences of losing valuable items or having them stolen?

  • What were those items, and how did it make you feel?
  • To this question, all the participants shared an experience of loss and the negative feelings associated with that pain. 

Question 3: What emotions and frustrations did you experience when dealing with the loss of valuable belongings?

  • The answers gathered from this question confirm the problem to be a painful experience across the board. 

Question  7: Imagine a preventive solution that could significantly reduce the chances of losing your valuable items. How valuable would such a solution be to you?

  • 100% of our participants agreed to the fact that a preventive solution will be a very valuable option for them.

Question 10: From your perspective, do you believe there is a significant demand for a proactive preventive solution for item loss among people you know?

  • All the participants except one, answered YES to this question. This means that they believe other people will also see the value in this product. 

The Solution

Based on the data collected and the technology landscape that exists to date, here are the functionalities we came up with in order to build a working model and make our solution a reality.

Key Features and Functionalities:

1. Real-time Communication: The Apple Watch, would be equipped with a feature that allows it to communicate with items such as the iPhone, the Macbook, the AirTag key fob, the Air Pods, and the iPad in real-time.

2. Customizable Radius: Users would have the ability to program a set radius around their body within which these items should stay. This radius might vary based on individual preferences, from a few feet to a few meters.

3. Instant Alerts: If an item connected to the smartwatch (e.g., a smartphone) moves beyond the pre-set radius, the smartwatch would alert the wearer. This alert can take the form of vibrations, audible notifications, or a visual display on the watch screen. It would immediately inform the user about which specific item has left the designated radius.

4. Preventative Measures: By receiving real-time alerts, the user can take immediate action to prevent loss. If they are leaving behind an item, they can go back to retrieve it. If someone is attempting to steal the item, the wearer can respond promptly, potentially deterring the theft or alerting nearby individuals and authorities. 

5. Locating Lost Items: Additionally, the solution can provide an option to make the disconnected item emit a sound, helping the user to quickly locate it. This feature further increases the chances of recovering a lost item.

6. Supporting App: A user friendly application will be built to support the various functionalities described. The app should allow users to turn off the loss prevention feature mechanism, pause it, display a list of all the items connected, and enable disconnecting old items.  

Future Steps

The natural next step is to present our PM portfolio to a cross functional team of matter experts in programming, design, marketing, finance and senior management to evaluable and validate the problem space we have explored, as well as determining how this can be an added value to both Apple users and the company’s bottom line.

We will then gather all the feedback and determine as a team whether or not to move forward with this solution.  

We are hoping this solution will be built and launched. We anticipate a high success rate which should open the door to exploring the possibilities of expanding our solution to other products and brands.  


Product Manager Learnings:

Alseny Boiro

The Co.Lab PM program has provided me with a comprehensive understanding of the methodology and scientific principles that underlie the field of Product Management. These newly acquired skills have equipped me with the essential tools to establish a robust foundation upon which I can confidently pursue my career goals.

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