There are a few people close to me that aren’t exactly what you’d call organised. They’ll drop their things where they land and then wonder why they can’t find them again later. One would literally forget his head if it wasn’t attached. I’m not perfect though, don’t get me wrong. As I have regular places that I keep my things, if I break that routine, for whatever reason, I will go into a tailspin. “My keys are always there. Who’s moved them?” – until I remember that I was in a rush and left them in a different jacket.
I first became aware of Tile way back in 2013. Its campaign managed to attract thousands of people to back its crowdfunded project to the tune of $2.5m. So, how does this latest generation of tags to track your precious perform?
Tile is a small white plastic tag that measures 37 x 37 x 5mm.
It is actually larger than I was expecting. It’s not huge, by any stretch of the imagination, just bigger than I thought it would be. It fits nicely on a key-ring or even be slipped in to a wallet.
The device has neatly rounded edges and a big hole in the top left for a keyring loop. It’s smooth, plastic, and is stylish in a very understated way. Think Apple attempting Brutalism.
There is a hidden button where the ‘e’ is, other than that, there’s nothing else to report.
Drop it in to your luggage or attach it to other portable valuables.
The Tile concept is simple. Register a Tile on your phone through the free app and then attach it to your keys or slip one in your wallet. Then, all you have to do is ring your misplaced items just as you would call a lost phone. If your Tile is within the 100-foot Bluetooth range, it will play a loud tune until you find it.
It works as colleagues on my floor started looking around when the tune started and one fellow Tile owner came up to say how much he likes his.
Tile in the real world
The phone checks in with the Tile every minute or so, and when it loses touch you’ll be able to see where it was last logged. The Tile outsources the majority of the heavy lifting to your smartphone, borrowing its GPS for one thing. You see, they reckon that we take our phones everywhere – yeah, ok. You got me.
It does the tracking thing pretty well, informing you where your things were the last time you were near it. The Tile’s tune playing speaker is loud enough to find in a regular home too. As I’ve already mentioned, most of the floor at my day job could here it.
But, what happens if you’ve lost something and you know it’s not nearby? Perhaps it dropped out of your bag at some point during the day? Well, thankfully, there’s a whole Tile community that are out there to help. You see, Tile not only relies on your smartphone, but on every other Tile user out there. Hit the ‘Notify when found’ button and the crowdsourced smartphone army gets to work, anonymously tracking the missing Tile. When another Tiler comes within Bluetooth distance of your Tiled possessions the system will ping you an email with its coordinates.
The company cites a case study where a Belgian Tiler used this function to locate his stolen VW bus in Amsterdam, seven days after the initial theft.
I have been impressed by the Tile’s range. Leaving my keys in my house I was able to get a good 40 feet or so clear before the Bluetooth connection died. Tile reckons that the range can be anywhere up to 100 feet in the right conditions.
Now, knowing that your precious is in the area and actually finding it are two entirely different things.
Hitting the ‘Find’ button sets the Tile playing that tune which is audible from yards away. The shrill tones knock out 90 decibels, which is loud enough to be heard a few rooms away at home or, as mentioned, across the floor of a large office.
Just in case the sound is muffled in clothing, under bedding, etc, there’s a read out that lets you know if you’re getting closer or moving away from it, depending on the meter-style blue ring. Check out the screenshot below.
The ‘Notify when Found’ function also seemed to work well. I left a unit at home and, when out of range, hit the Notify button. Within moments of me being back in range I received the email letting me know where my stuff was.
An extra bonus is that if you have your keys but can’t find your phone – hit the E button on the Tile twice and it will make your phone ring. This works even if you left your phone on silent!
Tile tracker conclusion
This is definitely a handy and inexpensive thing to have. Slip it in to your purse or wallet, attach it to your key ring and forget about it – until you need it.
The Tile will make a great gift for those people you know who are always asking you “have you seen my….?”, “did you notice where I put my….?” and have the repeating mantra of “I can’t find my…!”
The battery will last about a year and, as there’s usually bundle deals on these, there’s nothing to stop you stocking up. I should be getting my car soon and I am seriously contemplating getting another Tile just to leave it hidden in the car somewhere. Could be handy if I forget where I left my vehicle in a shopping centre or airport car park.
Tile price and availability
Check out the Tile website for more details.