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Tile tracks objects with help from app users


June 25, 2013

Tile is a new sensor tag for tracking objects

Tile is a new sensor tag for tracking objects

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The market for devices with apps designed to track objects and recover lost items is expanding. A few days ago we reported on Button TrackR, which uses crowd-sourcing to find lost objects. New to the party is Tile, which adds an element of social networking to the mix by connecting to other mobile devices running Tile apps through Bluetooth, extending the search beyond the usual range limitations.

Each Tile account can be used to manage up to ten matchbook-sized trackers. These are attached with an adhesive to important objects such as keys and wallets so the user can keep tabs on them. The concept becomes much more interesting when an object is lost.

According to Mike Farley and Nick Evans, the hardware and software engineers behind Tile, in order to go beyond a typical Bluetooth range of 100 ft (30 m), Tile recruits other Tile apps by sending them signals so they start searching for the lost item. To do this, it’s necessary to be relatively close to other Tile users, but at the same time, it provides an incentive to create Tile hubs with family, friends or work colleagues.

It doesn’t mean users need to give up their privacy, though. The communication between apps happens in the background, meaning that other users don't see it. However, users do have the option to share their Tiles with people they trust. In those cases, each user can watch their own Tiles move on a Tile app map. To make finding misplaced items easier, users can activate a ringtone. Where a user doesn’t have an iPhone or iPad to hand, they can log in using a friend’s Tile app.

For the moment, Tile works with several iOS devices, including iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad Mini, iPad (third and fourth generation) and iPod touch (fifth generation). New iOS devices will be supported as they become available and are enabled with Bluetooth 4.0. According to the company's website, support for Android will depend on demand.

The Tile uses a Bluetooth Low Energy connection and works completely wirelessly. The makers say that there’s no need to charge or replace battery for one year. A month before the one-year deadline, users will be reminded to recycle their old Tiles and of the need to purchase a new one (for the same price). In order to make this process easy, the warning includes a pre-addressed package for free shipping.

The project's recently-launched crowd-funding effort has already more than doubled its campaign target. Prices start at US$18.95 for one Tile, with $56.85 the price for three (plus one bonus unit), and onwards and upwards from there. Shipping is limited to the US and Canada only, and is expected to start during Q4 2013.

The video below shows the Tile system in operation.

Source: Tile

About the Author
Antonio Pasolini Brazilian-Italian Antonio Pasolini graduated in journalism in Brazil before heading out to London for an MA in film and television studies. He fell in love with the city and spent 13 years there as a film reviewer before settling back in Brazil. Antonio's passion for green issues - and the outdoors - eventually got the best of him and since 2007 he's been writing about alternative energy, sustainability and new technology. All articles by Antonio Pasolini

Shipping to US and Canada only.. :(

Billy Butler

The Button trackR does this as well. It detects the trackR units locally (within the range of bluetooth and optionally you can track wider using anyone with the app to relay the location.

to my mind this feature is only helpful if a lot of people have the same tracking devices, but I will stick with the trackR as it seems to cover all bases and ships everywhere


The tile honestly is a great ideas with a major flaw. The flaw is propelled by the lack of people that will buy into this and the fact that competitors will come into the sphere and make the same thing. WIthout a huge user base I don't think it will really work for recovering anything. Maybe for finding things inside your couch, but honestly is it really that cool? Read: http://VaultFeed.com/tile-for-iphone-and-android-review/ and then try and tell me that what I'm saying about this isn't true! I think its a good idea, but it honestly needs to have a triangulating GPS feature. It won't work unless EVERYONE is using the tile app. I just don't know... and then if a competitor makes something similar then "good luck" getting that massive base of customers to actually make the concept work. Make it GPS and it can work.

Joshua Boram

I like the Tile.. I can see this getting pretty big and I've ordered some Tiles myself. I agree that it will take a growing community but whoever is first and capture the share of the market is going to lead the way! I also like the idea of using it to find lost pets ( http://howtomanguide.com/2013/09/tech/how-to-find-your-lost-dog-with-the-tile-app/ ) -- I've got a dog that seems to always find a new way to escape my back yard. It might be helpful to post to Craigslist and ask others to download the app and look for my dog!

Steve Hartman

"Each Tile lasts for one year after activation with the Tile app. When a year is almost up, we'll remind you to order a new Tile." http://www.thetileapp.com/#faq

After one year you have to buy a new Tile. Yep that is the sad truth. Here is a list of much better object finders: ButtonTrackr -> button-trackr.com Lapa App -> lapa-app.com StickNFind ->sticknfind.com Linquet -> linquet.com


Tile has the largest community, which is a big selling point.

The battery thing is because they dont want the batteries going into the landfill, which I really respect. Plus, if you dont have to charge it every day, its one less thing to worry about.

I really like my Tiles. Work just fine.

Patrick Donnelly

Received my Tiles November 2014. A Tile already failed February 2015. I emailed Tile requesting instructions how to remove the old Tile entry from my App. After numerous emails, Tile has finally determined the failed Tile needs replaced. I have yet to receive instructions on how to remove the old entry on the Tile app. Once all my Tiles expire, I will not replace with new ones.

Jennifer Williams
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