• The NoJack Concept

    by Scott

    In our last exciting episode I briefly mentioned the idea for NoJack and how it works (I mean will work), but here I’d like to get into more of the specifics of the concept.

    Our goal is to add an additional layer of deterrence to conventional locks in the form of a smart bike alarm. The idea is simple: The alarm includes a Bluetooth SMART chip that communicates with an app on your phone, so that the alarm knows you park your bike and step away. Now that the alarm is active, the onboard accelerometer will be on alert for any movement of the bike.

    “But Scott,” you rudely interrupt, not even considering my feelings, “won’t it be too sensitive and give out false alarms all the time?” Well, we foresaw this being a problem, and have introduced the concept of “anger” levels to the alarm. When the alarm experiences moving or shifting indicative of a bike being shifted or bumped or something similar, the alarm will go into a higher state of anger, emit a few warning beeps, and be on heightened alert for additional tampering. If it continues to be jostled or experiences motion indicative of a bike-jacking then it will begin screaming to scare away any potential bike-jackers who may be trying to swipe your sweet ride. The base anger level can also be set by the user depending on how sketchy the location or the likelihood of the bike being accidentally bumped or innocently moved. For the alarm’s speaker itself we’re currently experimenting with piezo alarms because they offer ear-splitting loudness combined with a small profile and low power consumption.

    And as if that wasn’t gravy enough we had planned to build in some nice extras by capitalizing on standard smartphone features. For example, one thing our research turned up is that even though a surprisingly large percentage of stolen bikes are recovered by the police their original owners are unable to claim them because they have not registered them or lack any proof of purchase. The smartphone app can rectify this by requesting that users photograph the serial number on the bike to begin using the app for added security. It can also play off of the smartphone’s GPS to cross-check against crime statistics to tell you ahead of time whether you are leaving your bike in a high crime area where it stands a better than average chance of getting nicked.

    Sounds simple right? Shut up. No wait, come back, I’m sorry. But you see, building a project out like this is just like having sex standing up in a hammock; it sounds simple in theory but the actual execution will leave you broken and twisted on the floor with your junk caught in a hammock. Well that metaphor kind of slipped away from me (like a terrified pig covered in Vaseline …), but the underlying principal is what is important. And that is that there are all sorts of unexpected problems, setbacks, and roadblocks in the way of even the most seemingly innocuous hardware projects.

    But we’ll get more into specific hardware and design issues and problems in a future post. Or will we!?

    Yes, yes we will.