Whether you’ve heard of Tile or not, chances are that you have used its innovative location tracking technology at some point in your life – and if you haven’t, that will probably change very soon.
That’s because the technology, which you may know from the company’s physical keychain-like trackers that attach to your personal possessions to keep from losing them, is working with a number of BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) chip companies, including Qualcomm, Toshiba, Dialog Semiconductor and Silicon Labs.
Essentially, that means that products using chips from the aforementioned companies will integrate the cloud-based Tile technology, making it easier than ever before for companies to enable the ‘Find With Tile’ feature in their devices.
It’s something we’ve already seen in Sennhesier headphones, including the new Sennheiser Momentum Wireless (2019), the Bose Soundsport Wireless headphones and the Skullcandy Venue headphones, allowing users to find their lost headphones using the Tile app.
Tile in everything
For Tile’s Chief Experience Officer, Simon Fleming-Wood, BLE integration will be huge for the company, telling us that “an estimated 29 billion BLE-enabled devices will ship in the next five years – and all of those can be Tiles with a simple firmware update”.
Ordinarily, it would be very difficult for Tile to approach the manufacturers of every one of those 29 billion devices, given its “startup resources,” he explained.
“Our chip partnerships will allow us to offer Tile technology at the chip level, which will help us scale these partnerships significantly,” he says. In other words, you can expect to see Tile tracking built-in to more and more devices in the future, from headphones, to smartphones, to portable speakers; essentially, any gadget that houses a Bluetooth chip inside it.
Putting Tile into headphones has been the most exciting journey for Fleming-Wood so far: “Our partnerships with audio headset companies have been so exciting because the timing made Tile such an obvious need."
He continues: "Just as the category moves toward true wireless form factors, which are both expensive and more susceptible to loss, as there are now three items to keep track of - left and right earbuds, and a charging case.”
While Fleming-Wood couldn’t reveal which true wireless earbud models might get Tile technology in the near future, it’s clear that the company is keen to find a home in the world of Bluetooth headphones.
One set of true wireless earbuds that we can be fairly certain won’t get Tile tracking however, are the Apple AirPods. Why? Well, rumor has it that Apple is working on its own tracker to rival Tile.
According to a MacRumors, investigation into an internal build of iOS 13, the supposed upcoming Apple accessory will help you "tag your everyday items" and "never lose them again".
Everything you tag with one of these trackers – keys, wallets, backpacks and so on – will reportedly show up in the new 'Find My' app that came with iOS 13. It'll apparently be the place to go to track all your Apple products, from iPhones to MacBooks.
So, is Tile worried about the might of Apple looming on the horizon? Not all all, Fleming-Wood tells us.
“Tile has pioneered this category for the past five years, single-handedly growing its footprint and consumer awareness, all with the resources of a growing start-up. If a company like Apple launches a tracker, it will validate the category for customers and retailers alike, signaling that the category will become mainstream.”
Therefore, Apple’s competing tracker could actually propel tracking technology into the public consciousness, actually helping Tile to promote its own devices.
There’s also the fact that Apple products will only account for about 4% of those 29 billion BLE devices that will ship in the next five years.
For Fleming-Wood, that represents a huge opportunity: “The other 96% are potential Tile partners, all of which will need Tile to compete with Apple devices which have 'Find My' capability.”
With the launch of a set of new trackers designed to end the days of hunting around for your wallet, phone, keys and TV remote, the future is looking bright for Tile – whether or not an Apple tracker comes along to disrupt the market.