Tile, the company best known for helping people find their lost belongings using little Bluetooth trackers, has announced a partnership with Intel to bring Tile’s location-based technology directly to laptops. The timing is particularly notable, as PC sales and usage have reportedly spiked due to lockdown measures enforced by the COVID-19 crisis.
The Intel tie-up builds on Tile’s existing partnerships with Bluetooth chip makers including Qualcomm, Dialog Semiconductor, Silicon Labs, and Toshiba which allows manufacturers to develop devices that work with Tile’s tracking smarts out of the box.
Founded in 2012, San Mateo-based Tile brought various incarnations of its little Bluetooth fobs to market, which can be attached to just about anything — such as keys, wallets, or pets — to make them easy to find via a mobile app. The company has raised more than $100 million since its inception, including a $45 million tranche last year.
An obvious way for Tile to expand its reach and grow its revenues is to rely less on selling little Bluetooth contraptions, and forging partnership to bake its technology directly into third-party electronics, which is what it has been setting out to do for the past couple of years with a host of big-name companies such as Bose. This expanded support makes Tile’s premium subscriptions more alluring.
Laptops are a relatively new area for Tile, but back in January it announced a partnership with HP to bake its tracking smarts directly into its new flagship Elite Dragonfly laptop. It works even when the PC is in sleep mode, and through the Tile mobile app users can see roughly the last place their laptop was detected, or if it goes outside of Bluetooth range it may still be possible to find it using Tile’s community of users — this works like a mesh network.
However, rather than building a dedicated hardware solution as it did for HP which relied on the m.2 card slot, Tile is now looking to expand this functionality to all notebooks and laptops that are powered by Intel — all that will be required are driver firmware updates and BIOS configurations.
Tile CEO CJ Prober pointed to the recent rise in home-working and remote-communications as a key selling point of its new tracking technology, as the current crisis makes “laptops and portable devices more critical than ever.”
Although most reports suggest that demand for PCs is generally up, the global pandemic has also led to disruptions in the supply chain, meaning that shipments were down in Q1 2020 — this could impact supply later in the year.
Tile said that the fruits of its Intel partnership will be available later in 2020 for PC-makers, and that the two companies are already working “closely” with manufacturers to enable the functionality.
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