Misplacing the television remote usually involves some wishful thinking: Why can’t it come equipped with a tracking beacon that could instantly reveal its location deep in the bowels of your couch?
That dream is now a reality: A lost and found app called Tile promises to locate anything you lose. Shaped like a little square tile, this “mobile object locator” sticks to anything, be it the remote, your house keys, wallet, laptop or anything else that goes missing routinely.
Compatible with most iPhones and iPads, Tile then tells you how far you are from the lost object: “You can see yourself getting closer and further away from the Tile when within a 50- to 150-foot range,” according to the website. The app can also make the tiny tile sound an alert with its built-in speaker so you can find your precious belongings via sound. What happens when you lose your keys and your phone? Users can access their account through others people’s smartphones.
“We are giving people back hours of their lives that were previously wasted searching for missing possessions,” Tile co-founder and chief executive Nick Evans told ZDNet’s Eileen Brown.
Brown rounds up other object locators like Stick-N-Find, which is promoted as a “virtual leash” for pets (stick it on the dog collar, not the dog), and Loc8tor, which advertises its usefulness in finding your car parked in a vast parking lot.
Tile stresses the community aspect, though. As the network of users grows, other strangers’ connections can further help you out: Tile “uses the Bluetooth connection of neighbouring iPhones running the Tile app to cast a much wider search net,” writes Brown. “It works on the simple premise of community. The cloud infrastructure alerts a community network of Tile apps installed on other iPhones which helps to locate your own missing Tile.”
If that isn’t community-minded enough, users can also share personal access to their tiles with trusted friends and family members so they can assist in the search, if they’re that loyal.
This is one case where over-reliance on tech makes sense, especially if the alternative is ransacking a bottomless purse in a fit of rage as your streetcar sails by. Still, the community element seems a tad precious: Far from social, shouldn’t hunting for the house keys be a private ritual of torture?