Your New Best Friend: Tile Mate

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Mike FarleyBlockedUnblockFollowFollowing
CEO of Tile. Building a global IoT network to give everything the power of smart location. @thetileapp
5 hrs ago

Meet Your New Best Friend: Tile Mate

The behind-the-scenes story of how we designed our latest products: Tile Slim and Tile Mate

Sometimes you need a lifeline.

A few weeks ago I was on a business trip to New York City when I lost my jacket. It was the only blazer I packed and I was scheduled to do a video interview first thing in the morning. I didn’t notice it was missing until I got to my hotel room. By the time I remembered leaving it on the Amtrak train and called lost and found, it was too late. Instead of preparing for my interview, I had to spend the next couple of hours frantically looking for a men’s clothing store that was open late on a Sunday night.

We’ve all been there. In those harried, stressful moments, we could all use a lifeline — a friend you can call to help you find your stuff.

That’s why we built the new Tile Mate.

Tile Mate, which we are releasing today, is a smart location device. Just like Tile Slim, which we introduced a few weeks ago, Tile Mate works together with the Tile app and community to help you find the things that matter most when you need them most.

When we first started shipping Tile Original two years ago, we assumed people would use it to find their keys. Well, 6 million Tiles and lots of letters from users later, we learned people misplace lots of other things, too (like, say, jackets?), and they want more Tiles in more shapes and sizes.

We spent a lot of time listening to our users and researching the possibilities, and we decided to create two new Tiles: one that was small and had a tiny hole that would allow it to hook onto almost anything, and one that was skinny enough to fit into tight spaces.

The right design was critical. At Tile we have a mantra: Clean, simple, elegant. The new Tiles had to be easy to use. They also had to be durable (keys, bags and luggage go through a lot of trauma!). They had to feel premium yet friendly, and versatile enough to work with every lifestyle. They had to be beautiful, but more than just looking good, the products also had to feel good.

To get there, we decided to partner with the best: Yves Béhar and fuseproject. When we approached Yves, he got it right away. Here is what he said about why he wanted to work with Tile:

“As a designer, my sketch notebook is the most important creative tool that I carry with me. The ideas, drawings and inspirations in there are invaluable both personally and professionally. Every time I misplace a notebook, a sense of panic comes over me. But Tile gives me peace of mind that I’ll find it if it goes missing.”

Size was important — customers are always asking us to go smaller — yet we wanted to make sure we continued to deliver exceptional reliability and the industry’s best customer experience.

The battery was one of the first places we started. Two years ago we made a promise to our customers: Every Tile will last at least a year without ever needing a charge. For these new Tiles, we wanted to trim the battery size, but not the battery life. We studied our user data to see how people use their Tiles and found a way to rework our algorithm so Tiles would consume less power.

To get something as skinny as Tile Slim, nothing could be wasted — not even air. In an age where most electronics come jam-packed with bells, whistles and do-dads, we asked ourselves: “What can we live without?”

We chose the flattest, lowest-profile components and a super thin plastic for the exterior. But the thinner it got, the more fragile it became. Solution? A proprietary manufacturing technique that fuses the insides and makes them not only stronger, but more flexible. Now you can sit on your wallet and not crack the Slim you’ve hidden inside.

Our users told us they wanted a more obvious button, yet we didn’t want the new Tiles to look like garish gadgets. I personally tested more than two dozen tiny buttons before deciding on the smooth, round, silver button in the middle of Tile Mate and Tile Slim, which gives a satisfying-yet-subtle click when you press it.

A few years ago we chose white as our primary brand color, which we continue to use today. We want to create products that match everything and every occasion in your life. Some people say white is the absence of color, but really it’s all the colors, blended and amplified.

I’m really proud of the beautiful products we have built. Tile Mate is 25% smaller than Tile Original — a bit smaller and lighter than a standard poker chip. It just feels right in your hand. It slides onto keyrings, hooks onto backpacks, and sticks under bike seats. Tile Slim is the world’s thinnest Bluetooth tracker. About the size of two credit cards, it’s tailor-made for tight spaces, such as wallets, notebooks and passports.

Tile Mate and Tile Slim. Like a buddy system for your things.

A lot of thinking went into that little “piece” of mind you can hold in your hand. But if we did our jobs right, you won’t notice anything at all.

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    Go to the profile of Mike Farley

    Mike Farley

    CEO of Tile. Building a global IoT network to give everything the power of smart location. @thetileapp

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