We love successful crowdfunding campaigns, but this one holds a special place for us because the person who started it, Nick Evans, is the cousin of one of our engineers. Tile™, a tiny Bluetooth gadget that can be attached to stuff to help you track its location using any iOS device, has become the most successful Selfstarter campaign ever by raising $2.6M from 49,586 customers in just over a month.
(Selfstarter is an open source starting point for building your own ad-hoc crowdfunding site. Lockitron started this site after being denied by Kickstarter.)
With the Tile app, users can locate any items that are tagged and go missing (phone, remote, keys, etc.). Not only can the app show you when you’re getting closer to the object (within a 50- to 150-foot range), but each Tile comes with a built-in speaker and will make a sound when you get close.
There have been other similar devices that help you locate lost items, but Tile takes it a step further by incorporating a community-oriented technology solution in which other Tiles users can also help you locate your lost belongings. Its vision is ultimately for each individual Tile user to benefit from a distributed network effect as other users’ smartphones can be used to trace their lost items. Each Tile app is capable of picking up the location of any Tile, regardless of its owner, if the phone passes close enough to the lost Tile — which means that once a Tile is marked as lost, the whole network is alerted to be on the hunt for it.
The only drawbacks are that it can only be used with iOS software (for now) and the hardware is only designed to last one year. You can read more about the product here.