Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on December 2nd, 2010 at 5:35 pm
(Photos: GPS Track This)
Word is quickly spreading on the Interwebs tonight about what many have considered the Holy Grail of bike theft — a GPS tracker for bicycles.
UK-based GPS Track This now offers (wholesale only at this point it seems) the "Spylamp Bicycle GPS Tracker", a small device that is hidden in a rear light. They also offer a free smartphone/text/web service that can track your bike when it gets stolen. Here's an excerpt from a story in BikeBiz.com:
"Activated by pressing the on/off button for three seconds, the light flashes three times to confirm it is activated. The Spylamp has a vibration sensor, which is armed when activated, detecting movement in the event of a bike thief stealing the bike. The device sends an SMS text message to the owners mobile to notify that the bike is moving, and then uploads its position to GPS Track This’ website every 20 seconds until the vibration has stopped. The website plots the course of the bike on a map, revealing the bike’s location."
I asked our resident bike theft expert, creator of StolenBicycleRegistry.com and co-developer of the BikePortland Stolen Bike Listings Bryan Hance, what his thoughts were about this potentially revolutionary product:
1) I question if it'll play nice with US cellular networks, the SIM/text charges will differ over here depending on the cellular provider. Its tech specs make it look compatible with our networks but since they're shipping with a UK/Tesco prepaid SIM I wonder what the cheapest equivalent will be here in the U.S. (The two biggest cell providers in the U.S. that support GPRS, according to Wikipedia, are AT&T and T-mobile. The cheapest prepaid T-mobile card is $10.)
2) 1 year battery life? seriously? my standard light doesn't even last this long, so I wonder if this is actually true
3) Cops may not 100% like it because they don't like people recovering their own gear. Leads to assaults. Plus even with GPS tracking if it's in an apartment building or other high density area you're pretty much screwed. But still better than nothing.
4) Thieves will adapt and start looking for these but this mention is more promising "The firm also similar tracking devices in the works too, including a tracker hidden inside the bicycle frame".
If the Spylamp proves reliable in the field, it could change how law enforcement and communities across the globe deal with the scourge of bike theft. Bryan has requested a review sample. We'll keep you posted. In the meantime, poke around the GPS Track This website or download the Spylamp owners manual (PDF) to learn more.