Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tile Tracker - Helps you Find Lost Belongings

True story: On Monday, in the midst of the morning scramble to get ready for work, I was all set to go, when I couldn't find my car keys. Ten minutes of frantic searching later, I found them in a jar where I keep my pencils and pens. We've all lost things in weird places at inopportune times, and a new product, Tile, could help ease that frustration.

Tiles are matchbook-sized, Bluetooth-enabled low energy devices that track your belongings. Just stick the white Tile to your laptop (using the included double-sided adhesive), attach to keys or drop into your purse/wallet and you can find those things using the Tile iOS app. You can add up to 10 Tiles on a single account. Log into the app on your own or your friend's iPhone/iPad and pinpoint the Tile's location within an advertised range of 50 to 150 feet.

Similar to Apple's Find My iPhone app, you can also ring your Tile to help you find it audibly, since it has a built-in speaker.

It's a simple concept that's even more useful with Tile's crowdsourced approach for finding lost items out of range. When something is lost and you're out of the 50 to 150 feet range, you can let Tile's community network know: Other users with Tile apps within 50 to 150 feet of your Tile can automatically detect your lost item and you'll get notified of the location. The key here though is that there has to be a sizeable community of Tile users roaming about for this to be effective. You can also share your Tiles with family, friends, roommates or anyone else and grant them access to an item's location (a shared pair of keys or a remote control, for instance).

Right now, Tile only works with iOS devices supporting Bluetooth 4.0: the iPhone 5 and 4S, the iPad Mini, iPad 3rd and 4th generation, and iPod Touch 5th generation. Tile is not being developed for Android at this time, since it doesn't support Bluetooth 4.0.

Both a pro and con of the device is that the it doesn't require battery replacement. While it's certainly handy that you don't need to regularly charge your Tiles, the company says each Tile will only last for one year after activation and you'll be reminded to order a new one at that time. But Tile will send you an envelope to recycle your old Tiles.

Tile was created by software and hardware engineers Mike Farley and Nick Evans. They built the product out of Tandem Capital, a mobile-focused accelerator in Burlingame, Calif. Its basic premise is not necessarily new, there are competitors: The hipKey and StickNFind stickers are similar trackers.

For a limited time, you can pre-order a Tile for $18.95 online. They're expected to ship in winter 2013/2014 in the United States and Canada. Beginning Thursday, Tile will also accept orders for international shipping to Australia, New Zealand and countries in the European Union. In its self-started fundraising campaign to fund the first manufacturing and production run, the company had raised more than $53,200, as of Tuesday evening.

Would you find a tracker device like Tile useful in your daily life? Or is a gadget for your gadgets too much? Let us know in the comments.

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