I’ve never lost my car keys. I don’t say that to brag – actually, I mostly just want to acknowledge that I’m probably long overdue for this particular kind of catastrophe. Maybe getting it out in the open is one way to cleanse my karma and ensure that it doesn’t happen.
At any rate, those of us who have been unlucky enough to misplace their car keys (or anything else, for that matter) can probably attest to the fact that it’s a frustrating and potentially even dangerous situation to be in. I hope I’m never put in a position where I become stranded because my keys decided to take a walk.
The ‘Internet of Things’ to the Rescue
One of the biggest buzzwords right now (this month, anyway) is the phrase “Internet of Things” (IoT). It refers to the fact that we’re living in an increasingly connected world, with more and more gadgets and appliances joining the fold and incorporating Internet connectivity into their designs. In some cases, this trend is downright silly – there’s absolutely no reason why a refrigerator or a bathroom scale should be asking for my Wi-Fi password – but in other instances, the Internet of Things is becoming a rather amazing addition to modern life.
Take, for example, Tile. It’s a simple name with an equally simple premise: it wants to make sure your car keys never go missing again. But it’s not just limited to car keys; Tile’s tiny Bluetooth-enabled fobs can be affixed to just about anything, and the handy iOS (and now Android) app lets you track up to six (eight on iOS) objects at once.
It’s an idea that seems somehow ahead of its time, even though I find myself wondering “Why did it take us so long to come up with this?”
Does It Work?
The short answer is: Yes, it works. The slightly longer answer is: Don’t expect feature parity between iOS and Android – at least, not yet. Tile launched on iOS first, which means that Apple fans have had access to features for some time now that haven’t been baked into the Android version quite yet.
One such feature is the ability to mark your Tile-enabled objects as missing. This enables notifications that can inform you, for example, if the object’s location changes – that is, if somebody else seems to have picked it up.
According to Tile’s VP of marketing, Brian Katzman, the Android version of the Tile app won’t be lagging behind for much longer; their software team is working hard to bring Android users into the fold.
What’s in Store for Tile?
Tile is a young company, which is just one of many reasons why it sometimes pays to be doubtful of emerging technologies. Nevertheless, the novel idea coupled with pretty solid execution is making it look more and more likely that Tile has the vision to stay the course. Katzman claims that the company has received more than 50,000 pre-orders since they launched, which works out to about $2.68 million in revenue. They’ve even started selling their wares on Amazon, which has resulted in an even larger reach for this young company.
Nevertheless, even the most thoughtful technology is a poor way to disguise stupidity, and I worry that tagging our most important possessions with location trackers could make us overly reliant on technology rather than common sense. Even so, if we leave Tile under the “just in case you need it” category, it remains a highly attractive solution for an all-too-familiar problem. And that’s the kind of thoughtfulness I can totally get behind.