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Tile, known for helping people find their lost belongings using little Bluetooth trackers, has announced a partnership with Intel to bring location-based technology directly to laptops. The announcement comes 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 chipmakers such as Qualcomm, Dialog Semiconductor, Silicon Labs, and Toshiba — allowing manufacturers to develop devices that work with Tile’s tracking smarts out of the box.

Founded in 2012, San Mateo-based Tile offers various incarnations of its little Bluetooth fobs, which can be attached to just about anything — from a wallet to a pet — making it 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.

Tile inside

An obvious way for Tile to expand its reach and grow its revenue is to rely less on selling little Bluetooth contraptions and focus instead on baking its technology directly into third-party electronics, something it has done with a host of big-name companies, including Bose. This expanded support has the added advantage of making 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 tracking smarts directly into HP’s new flagship Elite Dragonfly laptop. The tech works even when the PC is in sleep mode, and through the Tile mobile app users can see roughly where their laptop was last detected. If the laptop goes outside of Bluetooth range, users may still be able to find it using Tile’s community of users — a system that works like a mesh network.

However, rather than building a dedicated hardware solution as it did for HP — and which relied on the m.2 card slot — Tile is now looking to expand this functionality to all notebooks and laptops 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 remote working and communications as key selling points for its new tracking technology since the current crisis makes “laptops and portable devices more critical than ever.”

Although most reports suggest demand for PCs is generally up, the global pandemic has also led to disruptions in the supply chain, meaning shipments were down in Q1 2020, which could impact supply later in the year.

Tile said the fruits of its Intel partnership will be available for PC makers later in 2020 and that the two companies are already working “closely” with manufacturers to enable tracking functionality.


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