One doesn’t usually think about the impact of losing something of value until it actually happens. Tile is the solution to this problem.
A matchbox-sized piece of polycarbonate with a keychain-sized hole on one edge, it communicates with an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad via Bluetooth Low Energy to provide the location of whatever it’s attached to. The use cases are obvious: lose your keys and Tile will sound an alarm, increasing in loudness as you come closer. Each tag comes with a piece of double-sided adhesive tape to attach it to laptops, guitar cases or anything else you want to use it for.
But Tile doesn’t just stop at that basic concept. It would be a nice little $25 toy if it did, something to help you find your wallet when it falls between the cracks of the couch.
The beauty of Tile is its ability to sync back to the cloud. And we’re not just talking about a single Tile; we’re talking about all of them.
See, Tile creates a mesh network of locations that can be updated when other users come into contact with it. As the account owner, you’ll always have access to the last known location of your various tiles (each account supports up to 10 tags) if they’re out of the 150 foot range.
But if another Tile user walks by one of your Tiles, affixed to a lost or stolen bike for example, you will get a notification of its updated location. Because each Tile is always on, and lasts for a year on a single battery, members will begin to form a mesh network of Tile locations.
Tile creators, Mike Farley and Nick Evans, assured me that security is the highest priority for Tile users. Your location will not be transmitted along with any location updates, and only the account owners of specific Tiles will be able to see where there are (or were).
There’s only iOS support at first, thanks to its robust implementation of Bluetooth LE. The team was skeptical to give us a timeline for Android implementation, saying that they’d rather make a rock solid product on one platform than a mediocre one on two or three.
After a year, Tile owners will be prompted to replace their tags, likely for a discount, which will allow the team to push out hardware updates indefinitely. Evans and Farley also envisions a broader range of uses for Tile, both as a product for individuals and as a network for thousands of people, but that’s down the road. For now, Evans wants iOS users to have immediate access to their valuables’ whereabouts.
Each Tile will also come equipped with a small speaker, which signals when you’re getting closer. Your iPhone will also be able to note how close you are to the tag through the simple and easy app.
Evans and Farley intend to raise $20,000 for Tile’s manufacturing and distribution through crowdsource site, Selfstarter. They’re well on their way on the first day, having raised over $15,000 at the time of publication.
As a day-one special, each Tile is available for $15, and purchasing three nets you an extra one for free. Tile will be $19 thereafter for the remainder of the campaign, and $25 once it comes to retail. Shipping to Canada is a reasonable $8 regardless of how many you purchase.
For more information, and to preorder Tile, head to the landing page.