Sunday, August 04, 2013

Where Did I Leave Those Keys?

I came across a new product that not only could provide many of us aging boomers with some help keeping track of our car keys and other items that seem to go missing but can also let us participate in the development of a new product and even a new way of funding the R&D and manufacturing process.  The product is called Tile.  For less than 20 bucks you can check it out.

Tile combines tiny plastic tags with a companion smartphone app, and promises to help you find and recover lost or even stolen items. But, as they say on late night TV, “There’s More…”  By connecting your smartphone with others who have the Tile App on their phone, your tile can “call home” from distances much further than the 150 ft coverage area.

Here is how it works.  The Tile is a small postage stamp size tag that you attached to your key ring, your purse, even your bicycle.  The device sends out a locator beam to your iPhone or Android smartphone within a range of about 150 feet.  If you can’t find your keys your phone will lead you to them or you can ping the Tile and it will emit a sound.  Each Tile will run for about one year before needing replacement. 

There have been other devices similar to Tile available for years. The real innovation comes by networking your Tile app with others who have purchased the product.  If you authorize your Tile and the Tile app, any phone with the Tile app can receive the signal of any Tile and report the location back to the associated smartphone.   So if you have a Tile attached to your lap top and it is stolen, if it gets in range of any smartphone with a Tile App installed, it will transparently send the location of the lap top back to your phone.  So in essence the entire Tilecommunity helps keep track of your stuff.

The developers are using “crowdfunding” to launch this product.  Since only the prototype exists, each person ordering will not receive the product until Winter of 2014. But your credit card will be charged as soon as you place the order.  The press reports brisk sales with more than $2.5 million in pre-orders.

I figure that I will give it a try.  For $20 I can feel like a high tech investor and I may come away with a nifty gadget.  If you are interested you can get more information at the Tile website

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