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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Bluetooth device and Smartphone App can use Crowdsourcing to find your lost keys

A new Bluetooth device called the 'Tile' can be paired with most Bluetooth 4.0 capable smartphones, in order to find your keys - or any other item you want to keep track of (wallet, purse, luggage, bicycle, etc).

Designed to last up to one year, they have a 50-150 foot (17-50 meter) communication range. If you are out of range, anyone with a similar application on their phone can crowdsource the location of the device, without violating your personal security, and direct you to the device's last known location.

Here’s how it works. The Tile tags themselves are small, waterproof plastic squares that are no bigger than a slim custom USB drive with a key-ring loop on one corner and a two-sided adhesive strip.

They’re inconspicuous and stylish at the same time. You then attach your Tile tag to any of your personal items. If any of these items is ever stolen or goes missing, the Tile app radar sensor will increase in strength as you get closer to your lost stuff, as long as you’re within range of the Tile tag.

This might seem as though it limits Tile’s dependability on tracking stolen items, but actually there’s more to it than that. If someone takes your bicycle, purse, or laptop with a Tile tag attached to it, you can mark the tag as a lost item on your phone. If the item is within range of another Tile app user, their receiver will pick it up and alert you of its location. Granted, even with the large amount of pre-orders that Tile has already received, there’s still a good chance that only a small number of users will be within distance of you upon the product’s launch in the fall of 2013. But like Waze and other network based apps before it, as Tile becomes more popular and its user base grows, you’ll be much more likely to have your thief cross paths with the Tile app.
There is of course the every growing concern with privacy that comes with sharing your location data with the public at any given moment. But some will more than likely see it as a means to an end in this regard.

Each Tile costs about $18.95 - and you can link your phone up to 10 Tiles.  You can also share access to your Tiles with trusted family members or friends.

Shipping starts in the winter of 2013/2014.  At the release of this article, they have already sold 49,586 units at a total potential income of $2,681,297.