All previous and existing Tile trackers use Bluetooth technology to help you locate lost items, such as keys or luggage. Typically, Tile trackers attach to things via adhesive or by a clip. Then, if those items are later lost, they can be easily located with Bluetooth when nearby. Tile's trackers can also be found through the Tile “community find” network, which uses the Tile app installed on people's phones to help locate any tracker set to a lost mode, pinging you when it's found.
Tile’s new product, however, will leverage UWB (ultra-wideband) technology, according to TechCrunch. It will even offer an augmented reality experience in the Tile app to guide you to an item. UWB technology is already available on the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 and some Android devices, like new Samsung devices. It's a short-range, wireless communication protocol, like Bluetooth, but it operates at high frequencies and helps capture spatial and directional data.
Apple allows developers to access its UWB-enabled U1 chip, which makes its newer iPhones spatially aware, and it's thought that Apple's AirTags will rely on UWB tech plus the U1 chip in iPhones. They've been rumoured for well over a year. Meanwhile, Samsung plans to integrate UWB into SmartThings Find app, and it's also rumoured to be readying its own Tile-like SmartTag tracker, which could debut as soon as next week during an Unpacked event for its next phones.
Tile has made internal concept art for its new tracker, which TechCrunch shared, revealing that, despite using UWB over Bluetooth, it will look similar to other Tile trackers, including the Tile Mate and Pro. It will have a square shape, center button, and flat that supports adhesive. It can also be attached to a keychain.
With UWB, it will be able to locate missing items inside or outside, even when you can’t hear it ringing. It can also help you find items in a larger space, like a multi-floor house. The Tile app will essentially serve up an AR-enabled camera view to help you see the tracker's location, with overlays and directional arrows.
Tile reportedly expects to release the UWB tracker later this year, with support for iOS and Android devices. It will still sell Bluetooth trackers, of course.