Local engineers create tool to track misplaced items

August 6, 2013 10:00:31 PM PDT
When's the last time you couldn't find your car keys or misplaced your purse? It's an everyday problem that two local engineers are bent on solving, once and for all.

Nick Evans and Mike Farley know the problem all too well.

"Everyone who's driven a car, which is basically every adult, um knows what it's like to lose their keys," Farley, Tile's chief operating officer, said.

Now, they have a solution -- a little white square just over one-inch across called Tile. It's a wireless homing beacon for pretty much anything.

"Keys, wallets, purses, those are probably the most common," Evans, Tile's CEO, said. "And then moving forward, all types of bags, suitcases, musical instruments, things of high value and things that you lose often."

Tiles use a new low energy form of Bluetooth to connect to smartphones. Within about 100 feet, the phone will tell the user when they're getting warmer. When they're right there, the Tile can ring.

For Evans and Farley, the whole point was making it simple.

Tile was originally just a cool idea, but then, the Internet got ahold of it and what started out as a small fundraising campaign exploded into a multimillion dollar business. They raised $2.7 million; their goal had been $20,000.

Now, they're racing to get from prototypes made on a 3D printer to manufacturing well over 50,000 Tiles for the backers who've ordered them.

Tiles have to replaced once a year. They warn you a month before they expire. The battery is sealed inside. The founders say they wanted to make it waterproof and idiot-proof.

Tiles will cost $19 each.

But the founders say if lots of people buy them -- that's where you'll see the real power. If you report yours stolen, every other Tile user's phone will be on the lookout for it.

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