Does the Tile Crowd GPS Really Work?

Today we are going to explore the find function on the Tile Key Finder. In other words, if you lose your stuff, and I mean, really lose it, what are your chances of ever getting it back!

Now, it all starts with the App.

To find your stuff, you must have your Tile, or Tiles, registered in the app – your phone uses its Bluetooth function to keep tabs on the Tile when it’s nearby. If you want to find the device, you open the app, select the device, click the find button. That makes your Tile sing, and the audio level on the Tile is really good, so finding it is pretty easy.

But what happens when you really lose it. LIke, it’s gone?

To test this, I hid my Tile in a crowded airport. In the interest of full disclosure, I did this in Hong Kong, and I have no idea how much this product has been adopted here. But, Hong Kong is an international cosmopolitan city that attracts people of all demographics from all over the world.

There are really only three ways out of this airport, other than flying.

The center exit will get you to the train, taxi’s or busses.

The exit to the right takes you to parking garages.

But due to the constant surveillance of the center exit, and my desire to not get arrested in the process of making this video, I opted for the second most traveled exit, which is the one to the left.

So, I found a nice secluded place to hide my Tile, all the while hoping not to arouse the attention of airport security – which is everywhere! I then walked around a bit making sure that my phone was still able to maintain a bluetooth connection. Check – it works. My phone knows it’s in proximity to the Tile anywhere in the entrance to this walkway.

Then, to avoid false trips – I turned my bluetooth off.

In the app, I selected the device, which I have named Backpack. On the device management screen, I marked the Tile as Lost. Now, the crowd is in control of finding my Tile. I really like the way Tile manages this function. It’s clean and straightforward. It’s very easy to see where my device was last seen – if my phone can find it right now – and if not, I can send a message to the Tile community to be on the lookout for my stuff.

So – how did it work out?

After 3 days – no hits. Nothing. Now, all this really tells me is that no one with the app has walked by my Tile. Which again, is probably more related to the fact that I am in Hong Kong than anything else.

But it still doesn’t answer the question – does Crowd GPS work for finding my lost item? In the last year I have had friends lose Wallets and cell phones in Singapore, Bangkok and here in Hong Kong. Primarily in taxi’s. So for me and my friends, knowing if this works in Asia is a big deal.

To answer the question of, “does Crowd GPS work at all for finding stuff”, I changed my experiment. On my backup phone, I installed the Tile App and registered for a new account. With my bluetooth still turned off on my primary phone, I went for a walk with both phones.

Here’s the good news – about 5 seconds after getting near my Tile with my backup phone – I got a notification on my Primary phone that my Tile had been found. Pretty cool. Except the part where I waited 3 days with nothing happening on its own. Even in a very crowded area.

So this leaves me with two conclusions:

As stated before, the popularity of the device matters. It matters a lot!

It’s not just the size of the crowd, it’s the size of the crowd that made the same device decision as I made.

And second – and this is for the manufacturers of these types of devices – Collaborate!

You’re all on the cloud. You have a great opportunity make a single – shared service that allows you – the device manufacturers – to share data about lost and found items. You could centralize this information in a common service and radically improve our finding capability. That’s the power of the cloud and the crowd!.

Each of you can still seek competitive advantage in things like device profile, weather-proofing, other extended features and user experience.
So that’s it – Crowd Finding – does it work – Yes. Did it work for me – not really – but I’m in Hong Kong.