I tend to lose my wallet fairly often. In fairness though, I have some pretty extreme external forces working against me. These forces are my two young sons – particularly my four-year-old Atticus, who loves to play a game called I Am Going to Lose Daddy’s Wallet on Purpose Today for Fun. The game goes like so: he empties my wallet of cash so he can pretend to pay for things, then he takes the wallet and dumps it in a random location around the house. My favorite part is when he pretends not to know where this random spot is when I question him. So the game abruptly ends with me playing the part of Dad Frantically Flipping Over Couches and Crawling Under Beds Because I’m Running Late. Great game, right? Well fortunately for me, the rules of this game changed about a year ago when I bought a small piece of square-shaped plastic called Tile.
It started with a kick(starter)
I first heard about Tile through Kickstarter – are you familiar with that site? I’d recommend checking it out if you’re not. Kickstarter is a haven for cool projects and ideas that some really smart people are working on. The best part is that you can invest a small amount of money in these products and then often be able to use them before they are available to the general public. If you are skittish about investing in a product that may never come to fruition, Kickstarter states that campaign funding is “all-or-nothing. No one will be charged for a pledge towards a project unless it reaches its funding goal. This way, creators always have the budget they scoped out before moving forward.”
Anyway, when I saw the Tile campaign and its pitch to be the “smart companion for all the things you can’t stand to lose,” I was pretty easily sold on the idea. I plunked down my electronic cash immediately, and a few months later received my Tiles in the mail.
How does it work?
The initial setup for Tile is pretty quick and easy. The Tile itself is ready to go out of the box, as it needs no charging and contains no replaceable batteries (Tiles last about a year and then must be replaced). All you really need to do is download the Tile app to your phone or tablet, then go through a pairing procedure to get your Tile talking to your device via Bluetooth (the range is about 100 feet). The app and Tile will start checking in with each other regularly, and then use your mobile device to provide GPS details to report detailed location information.
Cool! I’m ready to start losing my stuff!
At this point you can attach the Tile to the things you don’t want to lose. For me, I attached one to my keys and tucked the other in my wallet.
When I checked in on the Tile app, it reported that both my personal items were in range:
Now if Atticus were to do the “dump and run” with my wallet somewhere in the house, the Tile app will show the wallet as out of range (per the green dotted outline):
At this point, I can put the app into “Find” mode, then walk around until the Bluetooth signal is strong enough to start communicating with my phone. When in range, the Tile will even play a little song so I can more easily find it:
I’m ready to start finding other people’s lost stuff!
Another neat feature of Tile is its built-in recovery service. If your Tile is hopelessly lost, you can report it as such via the phone app. Once that happens, if any other Tile user comes within range of your device, the location info will be anonymously reported through Tile’s servers back to you (rather than tell that person, “Hey, you found somebody else’s stuff!). I actually used this feature a few weeks ago when Atticus once again wandered away with my wallet. I reported the Tile as “lost” and an hour or so later I got notification that the wallet was found because my wife walked within range of it.
If you find yourself misplacing things – or regularly have other people misplace things for you – I would recommend giving Tile a shot. At the time of this writing, they are $17.50 per unit. Not an unreasonable price to pay for a decent shot at recovering your valuables.
If you have questions about this article, or just want to commiserate about kids stealing and losing your stuff, I would welcome the chance to talk with you. I can be reached at 952-467-6385 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.