Lost key trackers


Dear Geek,

I saw something online about tracking devices to help locate lost items utilizing an app on my cell phone. Do you know anything about these?


Will Robinson

Dear Will,

Some days if my head wasn’t screwed onto my body I’d lose it, so this question is pretty relevant to my daily life.

Over the holidays I was given a set of small tracking devices called Tiles (thetileapp.com), intended to help keep track of items I am likely to misplace. The gist of how it all works is this: you can attach a tile (about a half-inch by a half-inch) to your keys, put one in your wallet, bag, etc., then make the tile ring by using an app on your phone. Your phone connects to the tile via Bluetooth, which has a range of approximately 100 feet. The Tile app knows the last time it saw your item and can also display this location on a map in case you are nowhere near your lost item. All phones with this app will automatically update any tile’s location to the cloud (even if it’s not theirs, but it won’t show anyone else your items).

The units I’ve used are the Tile Mate and Tile Slim. The Mate is a small square chip that you can put right onto a keychain. I’m going on the assumption here that I’m not the only one who loses his keys. Daily. The Slim is larger but thinner and can easily slide into a wallet. If you happen to lose your phone itself, the app also makes it a virtual tile, and you simply go to the tile website and you can have all the functionality you need right there, including making your phone ring.

I would not recommend sticking one on your child and having it ring during a game of hide and seek. They get frustrated with this quickly, trust me. Of course, if you are that Will Robinson from “Lost in Space,” you could put one on that robot and he’d never again get lost on whatever planet you end up on. He’s a good robot and you don’t want to lose him.

A Tile combo pack, which includes two Mates and two Slims is regularly priced at $100, but is often on sale for less than that on their website. I’m impressed with their functionality and when my dad gave me a combo pack as a gift over the holidays, he knew it was going to someone who needed it.

Thanks again for writing in Will Robinson, hope my response helps you get a little less lost  — in space or wherever you are.

-The Geek