A stolen smartphone is relatively easy to locate if you remember to activate the right apps. Recovering a stolen bike, on the other hand, is more difficult. Bike+, a new device with an accompanying app, is looking to put riders' minds at ease by offering anti-theft measures, including GPS and its own alarm system, that most bike locks don't have.
"The alarm is a motion detector," said Kevin Fahrner, the president of Wi-MM and a developer of Bike+. "When activated by someone trying to steal the bike, it emits a piercing alarm and sends a text message to the bike's owner saying that the bike is being moved." In addition, if a bike gets stolen while Bike+ is still attached, it will continue to broadcast its location, which can be tracked through its app.
Fahrner knows that bike thieves are both resourceful and tenacious. "If they see some type of GPS system on the bike, it's the first thing to be taken off," he said. In order to prevent the same fate for the Bike+ devices, he designed Bike+ to be hidden beneath the bottle cage, as well as fastened into place by its own set of screws.
It's not just the riders that benefit from Bike+'s GPS tracking ability. "Bike share programs can use the GPS and manage their fleet of bikes," said Fahrner. "We're working with the B-Cycle and interfacing directly with their software to keep track of rented bicycles." He said that the Bike+ device's security functions can last for a month on a single charge.
Bike Spike, a product similar to Bike+ in terms of both hardware and software, was funded on Kickstarter earlier this year. Fahrner said that the success on Kickstarter and the interest in his own product reflects something about the bike market. "We are at the very beginning of an evolution, where this technology will be a standard offering in most bikes," he said.
Fahrner said that Bike+ will be available at the end of the year for less than $200. The initial purchase will include a year's worth of coverage, but renewing the service will cost $35 per year.