High Variance

Tile, a Geek Love Story

The other day I got this email:

Indeed, I have a story, but I doubt it will be on Tile’s front page anytime soon. It started almost a year ago when I backed my very first Kickstarter project and ordered four Tiles. These magical one inch squares promised to keep me from ever losing anything ever again. I immediately envisioned attaching them to my keys, my wife’s keys, our wallets, and my daughters’ favorite toys. And I knew once I had them in my hands I would think of a host of new possibilities. I was in geek love.

Each $18.95 tile was a tiny Bluetooth beacon that could talk to any phone nearby that had the Tile app installed. If my keys fell behind a couch cushion, my phone could make their Tile play a little song announcing where they were. If I accidentally dropped my keys in the bushes, the app would remember where it last saw them and show me on a map. And if I left them on a plane, my app would talk to Tile’s cloud servers and let me know when another Tile user went near them and show me their location. The project had already hit it’s funding goal and was rocketing toward production. I couldn’t wait to get my delivery!

Months passed as the Tile Team worked through a series of last minute issues, and my interest started to wane. Then I realized that the batteries inside the Tiles expire after a year and are un-replaceable. That is, you have to buy new Tiles every year when your old ones die. And by the time my Tiles finally arrived, I realized that I already had a pretty good system for keeping track of my keys: They are always either in my pocket or in our kitchen key basket. I haven’t lost track of my keys in years. The same goes for my wallet, and even if I were a chronic wallet-loser, the Tile turns out to be too thick to comfortably slide into it.

Many of my early relationships followed the same pattern: Fall deeply in something with someone that was half a creation of my imagination. As I realized that this person was flesh and blood with flaws and features I didn’t immediately appreciate, I walked away. It wasn’t until much later that I learned that you can’t really love anyone without first understanding that there are no ideal types. You have to recognize that everyone is at least a little messy on the inside and the outside.

After a week with my Tiles, I’m starting to appreciate them. On Saturday my wife lost her keys and we spent several minutes scouring the house before we found them. I quickly attached a Tile, and that shouldn’t happen again. I’m also excited to put one in the car and always know where I’ve parked. Less than $20 for a bit of magic is actually a pretty good deal even if it doesn’t last more than a year. And imagine how much cooler the next version will be!