I was really intrigued when I found out about Tile, an app that helps users find their lost items. People talk a lot about the “Internet of Things” and Tile is a tangible example of this concept. So what is Tile?
- A small hardware device – A “Tile” is a small white device that you can easily attach to any items that you wish to track (e.g. a laptop, a wallet or a bicycle – see Fig. 1). With its GPS-like functionality users can track their items through their Tiles. Tiles doesn’t have to be recharged and they come with a built-in speaker so that you can hear whenever you’re getting closer to the item that you’re looking for.
- An app to go with the device – The main idea behind the Tile app on your phone is to make it easier to find your Tile(s). For example, the app remembers where it last saw your Tile or you can use the app to ring a specific Tile to find out where you’ve left it. Also, the app lets users turn on a range view when they are within 100-150 feet of a Tile. This view will help you figuring out whether you’re getting closer (or not) to the Tile that you’re looking for (see Fig. 2).
- A community of Tile users – A user’s ability to retrieve their valuables through Tile will largely depend on the wider network of Tile users. The idea is to create a distributed network of Tile users who all receive an alert in case a fellow Tile user marks one of his items as lost. It sounds like the team at Tile aren’t initially highlighting this functionality, arguing (quite rightly) that users don’t need a whole community to hunt down the set of keys that they might have lost in the house.
Main learning point: Tile is the latest exponent in a recent trend involving connected objects, where the device is connected to an app that the user can control. The main proposition is a simple but an appealing one; helping you to find your lost items. I can see Tile becoming a success and building up a group of loyal users fairly quickly.
However, I believe that Tile’s success rate will depend largely on two factors: price and community. A Tile is currently priced at $25 which could pose a bit of a financial hurdle to users. Secondly, for a user to get the most out if his Tile, the presence of an ‘alert’ Tile user community is critical. I guess that’s the question I’m curious to find about the most: how many people will soon be tagging their personal items through Tile?
Fig. 1 – Tile’s small device that helps you track real-world items