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Bike tracker

  • 21-05-2021 5:56pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 1,863 ✭✭✭ Tonyandthewhale


    I used one of those bleeper bikes for the first time today and was struck by the fact that the app can tell you where all the available bikes in the city are parked.

    Clearly the technology exists so is it possible to buy a tracker I can install on my bike to let me know where it is if it ever goes missing? Surely with the rise of expensive ebikes and cargo bikes that people want to use for practical purposes (which means locking them up at work or at the shops etc) there's a big market for theft prevention technology. So why aren't bike manufacturers offering the option of a trackable bike? What am I missing?


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,727 ✭✭✭ Nigzcurran


    I used one of those bleeper bikes for the first time today and was struck by the fact that the app can tell you where all the available bikes in the city are parked.

    Clearly the technology exists so is it possible to buy a tracker I can install on my bike to let me know where it is if it ever goes missing? Surely with the rise of expensive ebikes and cargo bikes that people want to use for practical purposes (which means locking them up at work or at the shops etc) there's a big market for theft prevention technology. So why aren't bike manufacturers offering the option of a trackable bike? What am I missing?

    I’m not sure but a power source for the tracker could be an issue? All our work vehicles are tracked and the tracker is hidden in the dash but I presume they would need to be installed inside the frame somewhere to stop thieves removing them which adds more hassle


  • Registered Users Posts: 36,082 ✭✭✭✭ ED E


    What am I missing?


    Bleeper do not know where the bikes are. They know where they were last seen (locked).


    Locking involves:
    Phone gets GPS lock
    Phone requests a locking code from server, sending GPS position
    Server acks and send the code
    App tells the bike to lock over bluetooth

    From then on the bike is offline. The map just assumes nobody nicked it and dumped it in the canal (happens regular enough).

    No tracking systems Ive seen are super attractive. Once it goes under cover you've lost it. GPS+GSM+RF systems are good but are so big as to be applicable to tractors and cars not bicycles.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,689 ✭✭✭ dhaughton99


    The new apple trackers work a treat. I’ve one concealed on each of my bikes. My new Canyon Grail:ON is on the way from Germany and it’ll also be getting one. Priced insurance for it during the week and its €43 a month.


  • Registered Users Posts: 36,082 ✭✭✭✭ ED E


    The new apple trackers work a treat. I’ve one concealed on each of my bikes. My new Canyon Grail:ON is on the way from Germany and it’ll also be getting one. Priced insurance for it during the week and its €43 a month.

    You're assuming the thief wont own an iPhone.....


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators, Regional South East Moderators Posts: 11,377 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Captain Havoc


    Something like V by Vodafone maybe useful. Would need to be charged everyday though.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,815 ✭✭✭ doozerie


    I think that an "independent" tracker would have its own SIM card sitting in a device which regularly sends its GPS coordinates to an online service you have access to. That requires a SIM contract, plus the appropriate hardware, plus a third-party online service unless you want to implement your own - all technically do-able but potentially costly, and the kit needs to be small enough to hide somewhere on the bike (perhaps inside the frame) but remain accessible for charging. And, of course, its relies entirely on access to a mobile provider signal, so if that signal is impaired or blocked then the bike is now "invisible".

    From what I've read of the Apple trackers/tags, they rely on being detected (via Bluetooth?) by iPhones within range. Which seems like a decent alternative, but again very dependent on circumstances as if the thieves don't have an iPhone, and for one reason or another the stolen bike never comes within range of an iPhone, it fails to help.

    I gather that you can use an iPhone to detect a tag, so a thief could detect that a bike has one, but I don't see that as a failing of the system, it might just act as a deterrent to a thief by encouraging them to choose a different bike to steal rather than have to worry about wrangling with finding and removing the tag.


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 42,440 Mod ✭✭✭✭ magicbastarder


    also, i believe the apple tags make their presence known to *all* iphones. not just the owner's. so they'd be easily discovered.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,815 ✭✭✭ doozerie


    also, i believe the apple tags make their presence known to *all* iphones. not just the owner's. so they'd be easily discovered.

    That's exactly why they might act as a deterrent to a thief. Given the choice between stealing a bike with a tag versus a bike without a tag, they might opt for the latter just to save themselves the hassle of finding and removing the tag.

    Same reasoning as having a "decent" lock. Any lock can be broken given enough time, you just hope that your lock is sufficient to add more hassle than it's worth to the thief so they'll walk past your bike.

    Of course, being able to track a stolen bike is only useful if someone goes to the trouble of actually following the signal, and does so before the thief has had time to remove the tracker. Maybe that means you have a couple of hours, or maybe a few days if the thief is particularly casual or incompetent, before the signal is lost. I think you'd have to be extremely lucky to find a garda that was willing to actively pursue a stolen bike in that time frame.

    And while you could use the signal to pursue the thief yourself, you'd have to weigh up the risk. Many years ago someone saw a bunch of teenagers steal my bike from my workplace and run off towards a notorious block of flats with it. They were well out of sight by the time I followed them so I had no idea of even how many of them there were. I didn't stop to think though, I was well and truly fired up and I wanted my bike back. I ended up in the centre of the block of flats, with people coming out of their flats to stand at their doors and stare at me. Some of them approached me and were clearly trying to be as intimidating as possible. The atmosphere was threatening, to put it mildly, I think one person asked me what ("da fook")I thought I was doing but that was less unsettling than the silent staring.

    A loud voice in my head told me that losing the bike was preferable to being assaulted, but that prospect just made me more angry so I continued to search, along with a couple of people that had followed me from my workplace. One of us spotted the bike hidden in a stairwell so I got it and walked back through the hostile stares, wondering if anyone was going to challenge me. They didn't but the threat was very real. I hadn't taken the time to really consider the prospect of facing down an unknown number of teenagers, the reality ended up as facing down a large number of aggressive adults. It's not something I'd fancy encountering again.

    The point here is that you don't know what you might be facing into if you pursue and potentially confront a thief. If I saw someone steal my bike today, I think my immediate response would still be to chase them as I did those years ago. Many people would consider that a stupid thing to do, and it's hard to argue they are wrong. But it's hard to make rational decisions in the heat of the moment. It's something to think about before investing in a tracking product though - what can you really do, or are you really willing to do, with that tracking info if your bike is actually stolen?


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,700 ✭✭✭ Type 17


    also, i believe the apple tags make their presence known to *all* iphones. not just the owner's. so they'd be easily discovered.

    Not quite, or once a good few tags have been sold, everyone's iPhone would be going mad.

    They make their presence known to all iPhones, but invisibly - only the tag owner's iPhone can see where it is* - the other iPhones are just used as a big network to help the correct owner find their tag/bike.

    *however, if a tag that you don't own is around your iPhone for three days, without being in range of its owner's iPhone, then the stranger's iPhone will show a "Airtag found moving with your phone" message, and the tag will emit a beep every so often.
    This means that you have three days before the iPhone-owning thief of your bike realises there's a hidden tag (the message and beep is actually meant to prevent people planting tags on people's clothes, bags, etc without their knowledge, to follow them).


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,170 ✭✭✭ Breezer


    Type 17 wrote: »
    Not quite, or once a good few tags have been sold, everyone's iPhone would be going mad.

    They make their presence known to all iPhones, but invisibly - only the tag owner's iPhone can see where it is* - the other iPhones are just used as a big network to help the correct owner find their tag/bike.

    *however, if a tag that you don't own is around your iPhone for three days, without being in range of its owner's iPhone, then the stranger's iPhone will show a "Airtag found moving with your phone" message, and the tag will emit a beep every so often.
    This means that you have three days before the iPhone-owning thief of your bike realises there's a hidden tag (the message and beep is actually meant to prevent people planting tags on people's clothes, bags, etc without their knowledge, to follow them).

    My understanding is the AirTag will start making noises if it’s separated from its owner for three days: [url] https://www.macrumors.com/2021/04/21/airtags-play-sound-after-three-days/[/url]

    However, prior to that, if the thief has an iPhone, the AirTag will send an alert to that iPhone once the thief gets home, or arrives at a place they visit frequently. This is ostensibly to prevent the tag being used for stalking: https://www.macrumors.com/2021/04/30/airtag-privacy-alert-trigger-arriving-home/

    I had high hopes for using one of these as a bike tracker, but I don’t think it’s workable really.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 268 ✭✭ AxleAddict


    Folks may find the following video from GPLama useful (it also answers a few common questions):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLtWN1Mp2Qc


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,604 ✭✭✭ omri


    Given the amount of people using iphones airtags are cheap enough solution and give some chance to see where the bike went if stolen as oppose to getting lucky in case gardai busts someone and comes across your bike. I’m getting some for my bikes.


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,886 ✭✭✭✭ Del2005


    omri wrote: »
    Given the amount of people using iphones airtags are cheap enough solution and give some chance to see where the bike went if stolen as oppose to getting lucky in case gardai busts someone and comes across your bike. I’m getting some for my bikes.

    Not going to be much use anymore. They'll now beep at random between 8 to 24 hours after not being in contact with the owners phone and will warn Apple users if they're one near by, an Andriod app is also being developed.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-57351554


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,491 ✭✭✭ martyc5674


    Interested in this topic.
    Surely you could disconnect the speaker in them to stop them chirping.


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,886 ✭✭✭✭ Del2005


    martyc5674 wrote: »
    Interested in this topic.
    Surely you could disconnect the speaker in them to stop them chirping.

    They are sold as a way to find lost items not for theft protection, the noise is intentional to stop stalking.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,491 ✭✭✭ martyc5674


    Del2005 wrote: »
    They are sold as a way to find lost items not for theft protection, the noise is intentional to stop stalking.

    I get that but given it’s one of the reasons people are saying it would/could alerts thieves to a tracker it could be a viable hack if you were to use it as a tracker.


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,886 ✭✭✭✭ Del2005


    martyc5674 wrote: »
    I get that but given it’s one of the reasons people are saying it would/could alerts thieves to a tracker it could be a viable hack if you were to use it as a tracker.

    And a very good way to stalk people. They are safety features for people who are in danger not something to be hacked to protect property, anyone with an Apple phone can see the tracker and Android users will soon also see it so it's not covert even without the noise.


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