• “So … Why Not Make It Shoot Lasers?”

    by Scott

    “Can you make NoJack do X?” Where X is a feature or function that the other person would like to see incorporated into NoJack, is a fairly common question that we get asked. We love talking to people about ideas for NoJack for the great feedback and insight it provides us, and it lets us hone our concept for what we think NoJack should be.

    There were many good ideas that were discussed but which didn’t make the cut for our first version and will be postponed to future versions for one reason or another. Some ideas would have been too costly, some were impractical, and others, well, others were just plain stupid (Ash: “Can we make it electrocute the thief?” Scott: “I don’t see how we can afford not to”). So in this post we’ll discuss GPS locators as one of the technologies we get asked about frequently and give you some insight into our thinking behind why we are not including it (at least on our initial iteration).

    There are currently a number of GPS-equipped devices for bicycles that are either being developed or have completed successful Kickstarter campaigns and are being manufactured. These consist of a unit that is attached to the bicycle frame and an accompanying app that can track the location of the bike remotely, the idea being that this will alert the user to the location of their bike in cases where it is stolen and allow them to retrieve it.

    This is all well and good, but from our way of thinking there are a number of problems with it. First off is the price. The inclusion of GPS puts the price of the units up around $150 to $200, plus the cost of the cellular electronics and data plan needed for the GPS to communicate. Of course this assumes your bike is moving or in a location where it can send and receive signals without interference (ie not inside and not in urban areas with lots of tall buildings), all of which can compromise the positioning function.

    Then there is the little matter of what you do once you’ve located your bike in terms of retrieval. Getting back your stolen bike is probably pretty low on the police’s list of priorities, so it might be on you to figure out a way to get your ride back (try being firm yet polite, and if that doesn’t work move on to being firm yet swinging blunt objects). Another potential issue is that a professional or knowledgeable thief will know how to spot such units and will in all likelihood disable or remove them first before going about stealing the bike, thereby nullifying their supposed benefits.

    So for these reasons we concluded that GPS wasn’t the right direction to go with NoJack, at least for the time being. This isn’t to say that any potential future versions won’t include GPS or similar functionality, just that we feel there is greater need for deterrence via a bike alarm than a locating beacon for after your bike has been stolen.

    Got any questions or ideas for us? Want to heap praise on us for how awesome we are? Feel free to hit us up in the comments section!