Bicycles are a notoriously easy target for thieves, but technology is here to help in the form of a new device that promises to help cyclists safeguard their property and recover it if stolen. Currently seeking funds on KickStarter, the Chicago-based BikeSpike team has designed a GPS tracker that features a built-in antenna, an on-board accelerometer and a connection to a GSM mobile phone network that allows users to keep tabs on their bike via a smartphone or computer.
The BikeSpike isn't meant to replace a locking system, but rather add another layer of security, one that can be disguised with a custom water bottle cage. After physically locking their bike in the normal way, the cyclist can then "digitally lock" their vehicle by arming the device via a web, iOS, or Android app. If the bike moves out of a predefined boundary, the user receives an alert telling them the bike is on the move.
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Users have the option of making the location data public, along with a photo of the bike to make it easy to spot. Access to this information can also be granted to local law enforcement to increase the chances of recovery. The app even has a template to make it easy to create a detailed report that can be submitted to police.
Besides security, BikeSpike can also act as a safety device. A collision detection system that makes use of the device's three-axis accelerometer can alert people in a contact list and share the location of an accident. The accelerometer sensor can also monitor road quality by looking at the vibrations detected, while parents can use the BikeSpike to monitor their kids while they are out on a ride.
The device can also be used as a fitness tracker that records not only distance and speed data, but also data on inclines climbed or declines descended while getting a workout. There's also fun to be had by developers, who can use BikeSpike’s API to create gaming and fitness apps that can be downloaded and used with the device. They can also use the data created from the BikeSpike to integrate with the existing apps.
BikeSpike will ship with security fasteners and a special installation tool to make it harder for the system to be removed. Even if the thief were aware of the hidden BikeSpike device and had the special security installation tool, the designers say it would still take some time to get the job done, at the risk of damaging the frame.
Each BikeSpike will ship with an AC wall charger, with the team estimating that a once-a-month recharge will be enough for casual riders. They can also get notifications of when the battery is running low.
BikeSpike is not the first system to use GPS technology to protect bicycles. SpyBike also helps cyclists track their unit's whereabouts should they get stolen. But unlike the SpyBke, which requires the user to purchase and install a SIM, the BikeSpike comes with its own mobile data plan.
A pledge of US$149 is the lowest tier that will get backers a BikeSpike device, carbon fiber water bottle cage, wall charger, security screws, installation tool, and a 12 month data plan. That's provided the campaign reaches its $150,000 goal. At the time of writing, with 20 days left to run, the campaign was sitting at just under $17,000.
The BikeSpike team has produced a rather entertaining promo video, which can be seen below.