San Jose airport partners with Tile to help travelers find lost items

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Mineta San Jose International Airport has a problem and a solution. It has a storage facility (which it won't show to us for security reasons) with 10,000 items lost by airline passengers and visitors last year. Only about 20 percent of those items are ever returned to their owners.

The problem is hardly a secret when you hear public address announcements: "The following item has been left at the Terminal B checkpoint -- laptop. Please return to the checkpoint to claim your item."

The solution is a small Bluetooth-enabled device called Tile.

People who buy a Tile and install its app on your smartphone can call the Tile, which you attach to your keys, a backpack or a carry-on bag. Tile then plays a distinctive electronic sound to help the person find the lost item. However, you don't have to be within earshot. The app has a proximity sensor that lets you see if you're getting closer or farther away from your item. A crowd sourcing feature also allows other Tile users to help in the search if you report your item missing on the Tile app.

The Tile device sells at airport shops for $37 to $60. There are several models of varying dimensions for different kinds of items. Tile has also developed partnerships with a number of companies in which Tile software can be activated instead of using a Tile device. One example is some models of headphones made by Bose.

Mineta San Jose Airport's entire footprint is equipped with access points to enable Tile tracking. It's the first airport in the country to deploy the system. Deputy Airport Director of Innovation Rebecca Baer says Mineta San Jose likes being on the leading edge of technology since it's Silicon Valley's airport. Tile paid for the roll out.
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