Letters from the Lunar Outpost

The purest treasure mortal time afford Is spotless reputation; that away, Men are but gilded loam or painted clay.
- Shakespeare, English Dramatist and Poet (1564-1616)

One of the great new innovations we’re seeing spring forth from the Internet is global community funding, or the “kickstarting” of projects, where filmmakers, musicians, artists, and designers can post an idea before the world and the world can say back to them, “Hey, that’s sounds great! Here’s some money, now get to it and make it happen!”

In the words of Stephen Heleker, who raised $21,000 for his short film “Smoke”, it’s “the most democratic way art has ever been made.”

Since its launch in 2009, Kickstarter has enabled more than 4.6 million people to pledge over $738 million, funding more than 46,000 creative projects. The site is so ubiquitous to the world of community funding that I’m pretty sure Kickstarter will give the word “kickstarting” new meaning in much the same way Google sprung forth the verb “googling”.

What caught my eye today however, was a project funded outside of kickstarter, using pre-orders at their own website to fund production of a product they’re calling Tile, which will (hopefully) be shipping soon.

Tile has had 49,586 backers who have made preorders totaling $2.6 million. That’s a whole lot of people who want to make this product a reality and get their hands on it.

So what is this Tile thing? It’s a $20 GPS device not much larger than a postage stamp that works along with an iPhone app so you can keep track of all those important things you keep managing to lose.

Lost your keys? If you left them at the beach or at the park, pull up the app on your iPhone and it’ll give you a map to the exact spot where you lost your keys. If, like where most keys are usually lost, you lost your keys inside the house, the Tile has a little speaker that you can trigger from your phone so you can find your keys by sound. The app also has a little “You’re getting warmer” meter on screen so you can find your keys that way as well.

Tile

If you want to help keep your laptop from getting stolen, probably best not to do it like the girl in the photo above, but if you’re willing to open up your laptop and can find room to stick the Tile somewhere inside where a thief is unlikely to see it, you just bought yourself a nice little $20 LoJack for your laptop.

Of course, all of this hinges on you not actually losing your iPhone, but as most iPhone users know, there’s an app for that, too.

Right now, Tile is only being advertised for iPhone, although I’m pretty sure it’ll only be a matter of time until the app gets ported over to Android. Each Tile is said to last for a year before you’ll need to replace it.

It sounds like the perfect little device to help you find that remote or a wandering pet or track down a stolen bicycle, but you know what I think a lot of people are pre-ordering their Tiles for?

Tracking lovers and spouses.

You think your love is being untrue? Just a little suspicious, maybe? Slap one of these things under their car and right from your phone you’ll be able to see whether the car’s really in the company parking lot on nights they tell you they’re “working late”.

Wow. How many people are going to get busted by this thing?

Of course, Tile will be just as useful to parents of sneaky teens with drivers licenses, but I can only imagine when Tile gets released, just how many cheaters are going to be busted with evidence as incontrovertible as this:

Tile Map

No more need for spending big bucks on private detectives and you won’t have to know where the suspected “other” lives and try to stakeout their house, you’ve got your cheater nailed with a simple screenshot.

Just make sure you don’t end up looking like a lunatic if you bust in trying to catch them in the act and it turns out it’s just the ladies sharing a glass of wine or the boys playing poker.

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