I guess it is a sign of the times that every company is jumping on the IoT bandwagon in some form, that even goes for tool companies that make products used in the building of our homes, schools and workplaces. In my opinion this is a good thing for the Internet of Things as a whole and will only cement its place in the minds of companies who are developing all sorts of products. Today we are going to look at one of these devices, in the Milwaukee Tick. The Milwaukee Tick is a rugged Bluetooth LE Tracker geared towards construction and other tool-oriented fields and allows companies to track and keep records of tools used by its employees. I kind of have a love hate relationship with Bluetooth LE Trackers as I find the usefulness provided to be rather lacking as you generally can not find things if you are not near them or can’t even remember where they might be. That aside I do like some of the things the Milwaukee Tick can do and think it might be a good idea for companies that need to track tools and usage rather than individuals trying to keep track of there own tools.
As I mentioned the Milwaukee Tick is a small, rugged BLE device that pairs to a smart phone and allows you to track the item it is attached to. From a hardware design standpoint, I do like the Milwaukee Tick a bit better than most of the other BLE Trackers I have played with over the years. The first think I noticed is that it is a bit bigger than most and I assume that is because it is more rugged as to work in a construction environment it would have to be able to handle temperature fluctuation, drops and water which the Milwaukee Tick claims it can. In my testing I attached the Milwaukee Tick to a Makita XPH12T using a piece of 3M VHB. I then did my drop testing and water testing, and all seemed to go well, the Tick kept on ticking. Now one complaint I have here however is that Milwaukee does not give you anything to mount the Tick with inside the package you have to provide this yourself although they do give you two holes on either side of the Tick for screws, rivets or zip ties so that is nice but why not throw a piece of 3M VHB in the package?
Another part of the design of the Milwaukee Tick that I like is that unlike Tile the battery is replaceable. The Tick is powered by a standard CR2032 3.3v battery that lives under the top cover of the Tick. This cover twists into place and feels like it seals up very well. In my water tests I did not have any instances where water got inside. The battery compartment also appears to be very well sealed from the rest of the components so even if water did get inside I think the Tick would survive.
The Milwaukee Tick uses the Milwaukee One-Key App and I must hand it to Milwaukee on this one the really designed a nice app which was surprising because from a tool company I expected it to be very rudiment with very little polish. The Milwaukee One-Key app is very well designed and adds a ton of useful features like, inventory tracking, purchase history tracking and service tracking. Add these features to the typical location history information provided by BLE Trackers and as a business owner you can start to see some value. Using my Makita XPH12T for example. Let’s say that I worked construction and the company I work for provides all the tools. Using the Milwaukee One-Key app my boss can track who has that tool and the last time a battery may have been replaced or when it was brought into service. To me this is a valuable service although I do not see a lot of companies looking at it the same way as I do. I can perhaps see this being used by companies in a more specialized trade that may have some more expensive equipment that they maybe they only have one or two of. I think the biggest problem that Milwaukee will see with implementation is that how many of these companies have someone who will use the One-Key app and manage tools?
Now usefulness of its intended use aside, the Milwaukee Tick is a small, inexpensive and serviceable BLE Tracker that I am sure can find a home in the IoT space. There are a lot of creative people out there using BLE Trackers for all sorts of things in home automation and one of the biggest complaints I see is that they are either not rugged enough for the application, like living in a car or the batteries are not replaceable. I have a few BLE Trackers integrated into Home Assistant using a Raspberry Pi 3 that I am using as pseudo presence sensors, so I can tell if a vehicle is parked in my garage or not and which family members are at home. I am sure the Milwaukee Tick can be hacked to accomplish the same goal and a may just do that because of the replaceable battery and the price.
I am passionate about the IoT and connected devices. Using connectivity to automate our lives will empower civilization to achieve greatness.