Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Tile Promises to Put an End to the Process of "Lost"

The Tile.png
Ever lose something really important… yeah me too.  Who would you like to never have to deal with that again?  Yeah me too.
That's why I was so happy to discover a little device called "The Tile".  This is one of those devices that is a brilliant piece of hardware engineering, yet you almost feel the need to slap yourself in the forehead because you didn't think of it.  The Tile, attached to what you don't want to lose, allows you to track your belongings.
Here is the concept.  The tile is a small, unobtrusive square piece of hardware (see the pic above) that measures 36mm X 36mm X 4.2mm.  It has rounded edges so it won't snag on things or poke you in your pocket.  The tile is attached to the object you'd like to track; which can be done using a keyring or some type of adhesive like sticky back velcro.  Once attached, the Tile transmits its location via Bluetooth 4.0, which is specifically used because it has a very low power demand.  How low?  So low that the Tile will last an entire YEAR without the need to recharge or change the battery.
The signal is picked up by an iOS app (no Android version… yet) and the app tells the user how close they are to the object.
Now you diehard geeks out there are immediately going to know that the range on Bluetooth is not great.  I'm sure you are wondering, with a limited range, how in the world can Tile help you find something that is lost that is any distance from you?  Well, to start with, the app will give you an idea of how close the Tile is to you.  If it is pretty close, you can actually use the app to cause the Tile to beep so that if you can hear it, you can find it.  However, the really cool part of this starts to happen when you really aren't' that close to the Tile...
 The  concept for this is that Tile users can use other Tile users in an interconnected “web” to help each other locate their items. The basic idea is when your Tile is within 150 feet of another user, that user's App will transmit the signal from your Tile out to the network and your app will then be relayed the location. Basically, as long as any of your Tiles are within a 150 foot range of another tile user, you have the location. And then even if the other user moves away from your Tile, the last known location will still be relayed to you.
The drawback? This idea only really works on a grand scale if you have lots of other users. The idea of all users basically working together to help each other locate their items is pretty cool. This will obviously work well in metro areas if the device gets mass-market penetration. However, for those in less populated areas not so much. Something else that I think bears mentioning is that the company says that your devices are secure. By that,  they mean that only you can see your Tiles even though other users are helping you located. Those other users will not be able to see your device on their app.
After a year the battery in the device will fail any will replace it with a new one.
Tiles are fairly inexpensive. They can be pre-ordered for $19 and if you order 4 or more the price drops to $14 per unit. The company is saying devices will begin to ship this winter. In my opinion, not a high price to pay to know where things valuable to you are.

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