Bluetooth 'Tile' allows you to find lost keys, bikes, dogs, anything really

Bluetooth 'Tile' allows you to find lost keys, bikes, dogs, anything really

Summary: This is one of those items that I immediately pre-ordered and wish I though of myself: a tiny bluetooth fob that attaches to keys (or whatever) and allows you to locate them with your iPhone.

TOPICS: Apple, Hardware, iOS, iPhone
Bluetooth 'Tile' allows you to find lost keys, bikes, dogs, anything really - Jason O'Grady

Tile  (@TheTileApp) is an absolutely brilliant hardware device that can be attached to keys (or just about anything) so that you can locate them when lost. Tiles measures 36mm x 36mm x 4.2mm (or about the size of a matchbook), uses Bluetooth 4.0 (low energy) and will be compatible with iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad Mini, iPad 3rd and 4th generation, and iPod Touch 5th generation. (Sorry Android users).

Bluetooth 4.0 is a brilliant choice because the built-in battery lasts about a year and doesn't require recharging. While GPS would be ideal, it suffers from heavy battery consumption (less than a day, typically) and WiFi requires open hotspot access. 

The Tile iOS app (not yet available) allows your to find a Tile by telling you how close you are to it. You can see yourself getting closer and further away from the Tile when within a 50 - 150ft range via the iOS app. The app logs the last location it saw your Tile (via GPS) giving you a good starting point. Tile also includes a built-in speaker, so you can make it emit a tone when you're getting close. 

But it's the Tile service that makes it compelling. It uses a crowd-sourced model so that you still have a good chance of finding your Tile (when it's attached to a dog or your MacBook, for example) even when it travels out of its 150-foot (Bluetooth) range. It's like having the world help you locate your lost item. You can track a Tile by seeing when it's identified by other Tile users.

Obviously the service requires a large user base to be effective (and may not work in less populated areas) but it's a no brainer in large metros. And something tells me that the service will gain critical mass quickly. 

Even though you're helping find other people's Tiles with your iPhone, the company insists that it takes your security seriously. Other Tile users cannot search for your Tiles (or your iPhone) for example and only you and the Tile users you've explicitly shared your Tiles with can search for your Tiles.

A single Tile can be pre-ordered for $19 and quantities of four or higher cost around $14 each and will ship in "winter 2013/14" according to the developers (SRP will be $25 post launch). I pre-ordered eight (there's a limit of 10 Tiles per account) so that I can attach them to all of my devices and maybe a few non-gadgets as well.

How much would you pay to find your keys in a crunch? What about your MacBook? 

Topics: Apple, Hardware, iOS, iPhone

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • (Sorry Android users)

    Why? We have alternatives. You don't reference them though for some reason, is it a contractual thing? Sticknfind springs to mind as a good alternative for both ios and android. They have lights for in the dark searching, does the tile?
    Little Old Man
    • You

      are right, it only requires a developer to write to the Bluetooth 4.0 spec and understand what the tag is saying. Shouldn't prove too difficult.
    • The big thing about Tile seems to be the "lost" mode and sharing.

      The big thing about Tile seems to be the "lost" mode and sharing.

      When you mark a tile as lost, any phone with the tile app can pick up the signal and report the tile's location to you.

      You can also share the tile with other people, so that something that is used by multiple people (car keys, perhaps) can be tracked.

      It doesn't have lights, but it does have a speaker.
  • Neat, but...

    I wish it were rechargeable or there was some way to change the battery instead of just throwing the units in the garbage after 1 year.
    • After seeing the comment about the StickNFind...

      ... the StickNFind seems like a *much* better alternative. I don't like tech that I throw in the garbage/landfill when the battery runs out -- very un-green. Just seems wasteful.
      • Actually you don't throw them away...

        According to their website, you'll receive an email from them around the 1-year mark to order replacement tiles, and you'll be provided an envelope to send your old tiles back to them for proper recycling.

        Unfortunately it doesn't say if there's a fee for the new tiles. So I don't know if you'd be paying full SRP for replacements, or if replacements are free or come with a deep discount.

        At least you're not stuck throwing them away--they handle the recycling for you.
        Matthew Sawyer
        • likely not free replacements

          I'm sure they'll charge you for the new ones.
        • Again pay few bucks for recycle.

          I would've opted to buy a new one. gadgets should be handy . Removable battery option should be there. Saw a new product launched at indiegogo named as Gecko.
          They're giving enormous features.

      • Are recycled

        I did not order sticknfind because they got such horrible user reviews. Saw a report that they will be sent back "like Netflix".
    • Gagdets freak

      Then I think you should try once Gecko. Removable battery. Lasts upto 1 year based on daily usage. Indiegogo website :
    • Recycles!

      Just watched a report on these, and they are NOT throw away. You sent them back in "just like Netflix". Ordered mine.
    • "foundIT by Scosche" lost and found device with replaceable batteries

      go with foundIT by Scosche works with more devices, you don't need to replace it other than the battery. They are an established business so you don't need to fund them to find out if their prodcucts work or not. Best of all you don't have to wait till sring 2014 to get one
  • you are a big loser.

    if you need that many or any for that matter should make you think about your behaviour.

    An interesting topic would be "cash for comment"
    • Wow

      Being a tish judgemental aren't you?

      Lost In Clouds of Data
    • handy for stolen items

      if you can hide the tile on the item well enough then getting back your stuff would be easier. Have the cops with you and say "hear that beeping sound coming from inside that apartment? That's my TV"
  • These things have existed for years with a regular wireless signal.

    I had one that used a standard wireless signal that I bought at Sharper Image. The problem wasn't that it wasn't bluetooth. The problem is the clunky tag that will be hanging off the items you don't want to lose. This technology will be truly functional when they make tag like a microchip sticker or something small.
    • the 'new' thing

      the new thing with these is the whole cloud support setup where if your tag gets out of range of your phone other people's phones will report to you where the tag now is.
      Not so necessary with car keys you misplaced in the house but more helpful with items that are stolen (as long as the thief doesn't see the tile attached to the item)
  • proximo is another option...

    I like the Kensington proximo better its cost is probably more than the others but, the fobs actually have a audible to help you locate them not just the bluetooth radar. They also have the user changeable batteries and look a little more robust... imho
    • Well, the tile has audible.

      Well, the tile has a speaker, so it can have an audible signal.
  • With today's car keys being so outrageously expensive

    (my husband has just paid $170 for one) this sounds like a great idea. Especially for my husband; he is ALWAYS mislaying his keys. Oh, I shouldn't have said that. It's tempting fate into making ME be the first to lose my overpriced key.:-0
    Laraine Anne Barker