Interbike 2010: Kryptonite Wants to Use Social Media and Smart Phones to Keep Your Bike Safe
I know that when someone mentions Interbike, the first product you want to know about is not necessarily going to be locks. Unfortunately though, many of us live in areas that if it weren’t for our locks our bikes would disappear no matter how cool or light they may or may not be. What may be the last product you think of on a regular basis, will probably the first thing you curse, should you walk outside to an empty bike rack.
Find out how you can stop a thief with a smart phone after the jump!
By this point, I’m sure you have seen a QR code somewhere. You may not have known what it was or what it’s for, but if you look closely they are really starting to show up everywhere. What are they? They are a form of a 2 dimensional bar code, which is able to be scanned with scanners or cell phones with cameras and smart phones.
Add a few of these to your bike, and register the code with Bike Revolution, and voila, Lojack for bikes. Kryptonite will be selling the QR code sticker packs, which will come with 3 different tags, each with the same QR code so that you can place them in multiple locations on your bike.
The next step is to register you bike, the bike’s serial number, and the QR codes at Bike Revolution. Should you ever be unfortunate enough to have your bike stolen, you would report it at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bike Revolution will send out localized stolen bike alerts to Bike Revolution’s followers on Facebook and Twitter, the bike owner, local authorities, bike shops and cycling clubs. This enables thousands of users world wide to become bicycle private detectives. If they see a bike that looks like it could match a stolen model, they can scan the QR code with their smart phone and find out.
Kryptonite is very clear to point out that they do not condone anyone confronting a thief directly, but that you should contact the police immediately. The beauty of the whole thing is that now you could prove a bike is stolen on the spot without even having any paperwork in hand.
While you may assume that some stickers would be pretty easy to deface and remove from the bike, Kryptonite is one step ahead of you. I feel that sticker might be a poor description of what are actually more like plaques that get cemented to your bike. The adhesive used is incredibly strong, and if you try to remove the sticker it will most likely take the paint along with it. However, you will be hard pressed to actually remove a sticker in one piece due to the fact that the tags are made to “destruct” upon removal meaning long hours with a scraper to actually get it off. Keep in mind that there will also be two more tags hidden elsewhere on the bike which won’t be as easy to see.
I had asked what would happen if you were to simply use a Sharpie to modify the QR tag so that it looked like normal, but wouldn’t scan. I was informed that the tag can still be read if only 75% of the QR code is readable, and even if you were to make the QR unrecognizable, the pulse ID number at the bottom of the tag would still link to the bike. Not to mention the fact that if you are looking for a stolen Trek Madone, and you find one that fits the description and the QR code doesn’t work, most people could deduct that the bike is probably stolen.
Keep in mind that the tagging system is in no way a replacement for a lock! You should still lock up you bike like normal, the tags will just make it more likely that you can get it back if your locks fail. Just what are the odds of recovering a stolen bicycle? Unregistered bikes have about a 2% recovery rate, whereas registered bikes have roughly 10 times the recovery rate by current standards. Hopefully the Bike Revolution will bring that figure up even higher, once the bike community starts looking out for it’s own.
If you absolutely can’t spend any money, you can also simply register your bike and the serial number at Bikerevolution.org. While you won’t get the benefits of the QR code so others can easily identify your bike, you still will be entered into the bike recovery system upping your odds of getting your bike back.
The kits will be fairly inexpensive and will be available later this year at specialty retailers.
Want to see how it works? Download a QR code reader on your smart phone, or go to Bikerevolution.org to download one there, then scan the code above so reveal the stolen bike!
The largest sticker is actually a raised, bubble kind of sticker that will really take the paint off if removed. It is designed to be placed in a conspicuous area as a visual deterrent, which eventually, with the programs success, will scare off would be thieves.
Two more QR tags are included which are much smaller, and designed for placing in areas less conspicuous. The hope is that if someone removes the main tag, they won’t notice the other two leaving them to be scanned later.