• The NoJack Origin Story

    by Scott

    Where did the idea for NoJack come from? Well simmer down children, pour your sketchy Uncle NoJack a double glass of whiskey, and prepare to be dazzled by this tale of wonder and intrigue.

    The inspiration for NoJack came about when I was telling Ash how my brother and his wife had both recently had their bikes stolen. They were both secured with bike locks, but this didn’t stop the thief from breaking into the garage in their building on two separate occasions and jacking their bikes.

    Ash had recently had a similar experience when he found that a bike he had purchased off of Craigslist had been stolen. He was persuaded to buy a bike that was way too big for him from an old woman because she claimed she absolutely needed to get rid of it, and did so largely out of charity. Only when he reposted it on Craigslist to sell was he contacted by the original owner who showed him proof of ownership and reclaimed his bike. It was just two anecdotal incidents, but it got us to start thinking about a better way to add an additional layer of deterrence to traditional forms of bike security.

    At the time, Ash was staying in a hacker home in San Francisco, a sort of halfway home for geeks populated by hackers and other people in the tech world. While there he met Rithy, a young electrical engineer new to the city who was also excited about the idea who he recruited for his knowledge of hardware.

    At the time Ash had met some people working for a startup working on Smart Bluetooth beacons—which are tiny beacons that can be attached to objects to serve as a low cost, low power alternative to GPS in indoor environments—which gave him the idea that the various technologies needed for NoJack could be integrated together by having a motion-activated accelerometer communicate with an alarm and Bluetooth chip to both deter the thief and communicate with the user.

    During our initial furious brainstorming session we set forth tons of innovative ideas for deterring bike theft. Many of them we had to throw away on the simple technicality that they violated the law and most commonly accepted standards of morality and human decency. But no matter, because ultimately we were able to whittle it down to our current core idea of an affordable and effective bike deterrent system.

    It was later over a few beers that we decided to either waste an enormous amount of our respective time trying in vain to make this a reality, or actually make this a reality and give cyclists everywhere greater peace of mind that their wheels are protected. The jury’s still out on which of these outcomes will come to pass, but damn if we aren’t hoping for the second one.