The other day I came across this new crowdfunded gadget: Tile.
The idea behind it is one I’ve wished existed for many years. Long and short: It’s a tiny little Bluetooth powered location tracker that you place on your keys, luggage, bag, bike, etc. The benefits of this are great, and their video does an excellent job of selling it.
I’m intrigued that it will prevent me from ever misplacing my keys in my own home again. However, as with any advancement in technology: “With great power comes great responsibility.” This product raises some technical and privacy questions to me, and the company’s FAQ seemed to exist mainly to satisfy angry Android customers, so I fired off an email to their ‘contact’ address, and here are the results.
You have your introductory price, but what will the second year cost me? / Will you offer a recycling discount for sending you our old Tiles?
Tile replacements are likely to be discounted for customers, but since we are still in development phase the final cost is not yet determined. Replacement Tiles will come with a return envelope with postage paid. All Tiles are recycled or refurbished depending on condition.
Tile requires no battery charging or battery replacement hassles, ever. It’s all about ease of use and being cost effective as compared fo similar solutions. You could buy enough Tiles to last you three years before you would match the cost of buying other solutions that require constant charging and are quite bigger, and not waterproof.
If I buy a tile, when does the year start? At manufacturing, order, or do I “activate” it somehow? If I buy two tiles now, can I hold off “activating,” the second one until my first one dies? Will it hold a charge until this hypothetical activation?
A Tile’s year of use starts when you take possession of it. Withholding use of a Tile does not prevent a drain on the battery. Use them for a year and then replace. Easy. Also, Tiles are registered via the Tile app.
What kind of access to my tile data do you have? Could the NSA, in theory, demand access to your servers and see my Tile’s location history? Or, with your permission, use another Tile to locate my Tile like your video shows with the bike?
There you have it. While I’m not thrilled by the number of companies going live without privacy policies set in place, I respect that they answered the question at all. For now, I’ve decided to purchase a Tile. We’ll see how I feel about it when year 2 rolls around.