Tile™ Bluetooth tracking device - review


The Internet of Things: a true story.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin... Once upon a Tile in a land far, far away (well, California), a group of boffins at Reveal Labs Inc. came up with a really clever idea. Small, attachable devices to keep track of important items like keys or laptops had been marketed before but what if you used the power of the cloud to connect a whole load of them together; so that as well as searching for your own precious item, you could simultaneously and collectively be on the lookout for someone else's lost property at the same time? It seemed like all the people in the kingdom liked that idea too, because the magical object raised a staggering $2.6 million on Selfstarter, when it launched last year. The End...

Well, almost. The Tile has now started to ship and we will get to see if that cloud locating functionality is as cunning a feature as it appears. Initially it might not be terribly effective (50,000 backers is impressive but would still only fill a football stadium) and the relatively short-ranged Bluetooth connectivity (150ft) is a bit of a disadvantage compared to other systems but as the installed user base rapidly grows, it could prove to be a really smart proposition.

The Fowndry backed the project and our reward arrived last week. For such a stylish looking device, the packaging needs a bit of work (essentially a postcard sized, foam-reinforced wallet) but the Tile itself is nicely put together and a cinch to set up. The downloadable app has a smart interface and once you've added a Tile, named it - e.g. um... 'Keys' - and attached it to your object, tracking it is as simple as hitting the 'Find' button and following the electronic chirruping noises it emits (think Nintendo's old skool 'Game and Watch'). It won't actually point you in the right direction per se but it will, hide 'n' seek styley, offer a hint as to how close you are. You also get a 'Map' option so you can see its physical location. And that's it!.

It delivers on its promise and for $19.95 (current pre-order price) would seem to offer excellent peace of mind for those who regularly leave the baby on the bus. Whether it fulfills its global 'Sherlocking' potential remains to be seen. There are only real two real gripes: it currently only works with iOS powered devices and the Tile will need to be replaced after a year, as the battery is sealed.   



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