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Tile: Crowdfunding a community driven device to keep track of your stuff

We all lose our stuff. It's part of life; you accidentally leave your favorite jacket at a restaurant, your wallet falls out of your pocket into a shrub, or somebody decides that they like your bike more than the fixer they're riding. A new company, Tile, has plans for a unique way to figure out where your stuff is at all times and they're looking for just US$20,000 in crowdsourced funding to start production.

Tile's self-named product is a tiny Bluetooth LE device that you attach to or embed in something that you don't want to lose. Clip one to a bike, stick one in the pocket of your jacket or your wallet, and even put one on the dog's collar. A US$25 Tile has battery life for one year, at which time you'll need to replace it and recycle the old one for reuse.

Now here's the big news: with most "find your stuff" type apps and devices, you're limited by the range of Bluetooth (maybe 100 feet at the best). That means that unless you know where the heck you lost your stuff, you're out of luck finding it. How Tile plans to expand the range to ... well, everywhere ... is to make sure that a lot of other people are using the devices and the accompanying Tile app.

Let's say that you drop your wallet into the aforementioned shrub. When you get home and suddenly realize that it's missing, you launch the app which tells you the last place where it "saw" the Tile. If that's not enough information to help you dig your wallet out of that shrub, the next level is that you'll "mark" the Tile as missing, which puts all other Tile apps on alert to look for your wallet.

If anyone else running the Tile app happens to get anywhere near your wallet hiding in the shrub, an alert is sent through their iPhone to the app running on your device. The guy who just walked by your wallet has no clue that he just helped to find it for you.

What will make this work for everybody is if a lot of Tiles are sold and many people decide to run the app. That's a big "if," but the idea is compelling and the cost a handful of Tiles -- maybe $100 a year -- is much less than replacing some of your more cherished belongings if you lose them.

Early bird pricing is available today only for $15 per Tile, after which the price goes up to $19 for the remainder of the campaign (through July 29). When the product goes live in the winter of 2013/2014, the price will be $25.

Check out the video below to get a better idea of how Tile works, and then decide if you want in on the ground floor on this very innovative way of keeping track of your stuff.

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