Tile's Steve Klinkner | Challenges of Asset Tracking in the Consumer Space

Tile’s Steve Klinkner | Challenges of Asset Tracking in the Consumer Space

#IoTMakers E056

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In this episode of the IoT For All Podcast, we sat down with Steve Klinkner, VP of Engineering at Tile, to talk about asset tracking and associated technologies in the consumer IoT space.

Steve Klinkner joined Tile after the initial product release when the foundation of Tile’s community had already been formed. For the past two and a half years, Steve has led the team to make continuous improvements to Tile’s existing products and has proven that Tile can produce compelling software services in addition to impressive hardware.

To kick off the conversation, we asked Steve to talk about what Tile does, from his perspective, beyond the white keychain tracker that we’re all familiar with. Steve shared some of the technical challenges that Tile faced as the product was developed, including the usual asset tracking woes like balancing battery life and bandwidth to allow dozens of devices to remain constantly connected.

Moving toward a more general discussion about technology, Steve spoke to the pros and cons of Bluetooth versus GPS for asset tracking, why Tile ultimately chose Bluetooth, and some of the challenges that came with that decision. Steve also shared a little bit about the testing process for the Tile devices and how Tile measures and reports the most accurate range possible.

Steven said that — as you would expect — wallets, keys, and purses were definitely the most common uses. But people often use Tile to track less easily misplaced objects, like bikes and musical instruments. He mentioned that Tile made its way into a surprising number of workplaces as well, tracking dormitory keys, pallets, and even equipment in automotive repair shops. 

We asked Steve about the challenges associated with building a “lost and found” community that leverages Bluetooth signals from users’ phones while protecting consumer data privacy. Steve also shared some insight into Tile’s partnerships and how they integrate their technology into other products to best benefit consumers.

To close out the conversation, Steve gave us a quick look into some of the things currently happening at Tile and hinted at some of the news on the horizon.

Interested in connecting with Steve? Reach out to him on Linkedin!

About Tile: Tile is the world’s leading smart location company using its cloud-finding platform of hardware, software and over three million monthly active users.

Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:

(01:31) Introduction to Steve and Tile

(04:16) What have been your biggest accomplishments since joining Tile?

(04:57) From your perspective, what does Tile do?

(08:54) What are some of the technological challenges you tackled as you developed Tile’s product?

(12:47) How does the Tile device actually work, once it’s in consumers’ hands?

(16:27) How do Bluetooth and GPS differ for asset tracking? What are the pros and cons of each?

(19:17) Have you considered using other tracking technologies for future products?

(19:55) How do environmental factors affect the range of Bluetooth devices?

(21:37) What are some of the unexpected use cases for Tiles?

(24:56) How do you build a lost and found community while maintaining consumer privacy?

(27:11) How do partnerships work at Tile? Can you give us some examples?

(31:09) What’s on the horizon for Tile? What should we keep an eye out for?

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