I just came across the Tiles and the Tile smartphone app product (watch video demo here), the product/company that will create the largest lost-and-found in the world.
Below, I’ve highlighted both why I think this is a noteworthy invention and app that we should all download, and two quick ideas for how the value proposition might be further extended.
What I really like about Tiles and the Tile app:
- App harnesses the power of mobile and sensor technologies to remember where it last “saw” a given tile. I guess the app is remembering when and where it last was within a certain proximity of a given Tile.
- App “surfs the crowd” to locate Tiles/items that have been reported as lost/stolen. Much like the winning MIT team from the DARPA Network Challenge, Tiles and the Tile app harness the fundamental power of mobile technologies and the crowd. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tile app soon becomes a top-downloaded/used app of all time, demonstrating people’s comfort with trusting services that–in theory–could be used to infringe on one’s privacy when when the value they are receiving in return is large enough. Working in the mobile technology field, I know that it is easy enough to design the system and tech such that all personally identifiable information is safeguarded, and so I predict Tiles will be a great success so long as the company (Reveal Labs) addresses customer privacy in an opaque and easy-to-understand manner.
- Company makes it easy to recycle Tiles. Since Tiles last one year and electronics are highly toxic to the environment, I like that the company reminds you when it’s time to order new Tiles and also sends you an envelope to recycle your old ones.
The ironic thing now is that Tiles and the Tile app (as a system for locating my most prized possessions) now make my smartphone an even more critical tool in my life, so what do I do to locate my lost/stolen smartphone and the tile I put on it?
Two ideas for further strengthening the value proposition:
1. Integration with police systems
Also, now that Tiles, the Tile app, and cloud can be used to locate stolen items, can a feature be built into the app that enables one share a live feed of a lost/stolen Tile/item location information with police? Or another feature that could enable the owner of a given Tile to request police assistance for retrieving an item at a specific location?
2. Sponsorship by insurance companies
If Tiles and the Tile system can be shown to reduce theft and/or increase recovery of stolen items, will insurance companies be willing to compensate customers who use them? Didn’t car insurance companies reduce premiums for customers who used LowJack?
P.S. The company is currently raising investment funds via Selfstarter, and expects to begin shipping Tiles to customers winter of 2013. You can pre-order Tiles here (limited quantities).