I can be absent-minded, especially, it seems, with my keys. I’ve tried always putting them in the same place, which works whenever I remember, alas between not paying attention, kids, pets and spouses, my keys, and occasionally wallet, regularly go missing. Enter smart trackers to save the day. I’ve spent the last month with two smart trackers from Tile, the Tile Mate and the Tile Slim.
Upfront I can unequivocally confirm I have both misplaced and immediately located my missing keys thanks to this little device. So what is a Tile? Tile is a Bluetooth locator that can be attached to various things, from keys, to pets, to handbags, you get the idea. Via an app, on your phone, you can tap on the missing device and if it’s in Bluetooth range and connected to your phone it will start ringing, and it shall be missing no more.
The Tile comes in two sizes, the Mate which is the traditional keyring style device measuring in at 34mm x 34mm x 4.65mm, and the Slim which is 54 x 54 x 2.4mm, which can sort of fit into a wallet, it’s about the thickness of 3 credit cards. Both feature two-way locating so that not only can you locate your valuables with your phone but with a Tile, you can actually locate your phone, handy. The last feature of the Tile is the ability to locate lost or stolen things.
While Tile doesn’t include a GPS what it does have is a community location feature. If you mark one of your devices as missing the Tile back-end can use all of the other Tile owners devices to “search” for the missing device. What this really means is that when the Tile App passively receives a device’s unique identifier this would be handed back to the server. This list of found devices would be matched against the list of missing devices and if your missing device was found you get notified of the approximate location.
I actually tested this at a local Hospital for 7 days. I used double sided tape to affix a Tile to the roof of a coffee stand and set it to missing. Unfortunately, during the test, the Tile was never found. This wasn’t one of the major Hospitals so I’m not sure how representative this would be of a typical traffic sample. I’m considering redoing the test at a shopping centre where the mix of people would be more representative of the general community and the chance of encountering another Tile user would probably be higher.
The Tile App
The app is the central manager of your Tile experience with the ability to add new Tiles and manage the ones you have. Using the app you can customise the “ringtone” of each tracker as well as the name and category of the Tile. The main use for selecting the ringtone seemed to be choosing a tune that you could hear easily. We all having different degrees of hearing to different frequencies so being able to choose from a few tones to find one you find the loudest is not a bad idea.
The app is also where you can click to find a Tile or mark one as missing to use the ‘crowdsourced’ location system. Overall it’s a simple app, but then again it has a simple purpose. I found it easy and intuitive to use.
The Tile, unfortunately, does not have a replaceable battery so once it has gone flat it’s time to replace it. This does allow the Slim to be, well slim, as it doesn’t rely on off the shelf batteries, however, it does mean you’re looking at a continual replacement of the devices. Each tile should last around one year if you don’t fiddle with them too much. I’m expecting to get about 4 months out of mine, as I just love hiding the slim in people’s desks, behind monitors etc and setting it off, yeah, I’m that guy in the office!
With an Australian retail price of $39.95 for the Tile mate and $44.95 for the Tile Slim they’re not “expensive” however, I also wouldn’t want to be replacing a dozen of them every 12 to 18 months. There are some combo packs, 2 x Mate and 2 x Slim for $129.95, which is a $37.85 saving over the set. Additionally, you can often find the devices on sale both in store and on Tiles own Website.
For me I’m sold, I will forever have a tracking device on my keys if not on other things as well, in bigger news my wife has actually requested a piece of technology. Having seen me instantly find my missing keys and suffered through having to find her own a few times the unquestionable utility of these Bluetooth locators has become evident to my extremely tech adverse spouse, well-done Tile, well done.
I’d actually love to see this be compatible with IFTTT or even better Stringify, that would allow me to use a Tile as a Bluetooth home automation button, assuming a paired Bluetooth device was in range, I’d be more than happy to repurpose an old phone for that.
While the semi-annual replacement cost is a consideration, as is the environmental impact of the e-waste this would generate, I am hopeful that Tile may have a replacement program where you can “swap devices” that will get recognition and recharged ready for the next tile user. There are similar programs in the USA so all hope is not lost.
If you’re not prone to losing you stuff or having it lost for you, here’s the question for you, do your this ever get misplaced? If the answer is yes I’d say give a Bluetooth locator a go, they are well worth it, oh and if you the office prankster you need some of these in your kit!!