BikeSpike: Like a Tech-ier LoJack
A great idea that needs your help to come to life
As motorcyclists, one of our greatest fears is getting our bikes stolen, damaged or otherwise vandalized. However, there exists a product able to alert you via smartphone when your motorcycle is being fondled by someone other than you. What’s more, it can track your baby should it get stolen, and even alert your emergency contacts for help should you get in an accident.
Sounds like a product long overdue, right? You can help bring it to market.
The product is called the BikeSpike, and it’s the brainchild of Chicago-based entrepreneur Clay Neigher. An avid cyclist, Neigher came up with the idea behind BikeSpike after his fourth bicycle was stolen.
Yes, that’s right – bicycle. As in, pedal power. “I admit I had fellow cyclists in mind originally, but I’m realizing now the potential for the BikeSpike applies far greater, including motorcycles,” Neigher said.
Inside the device, which is slightly less than half the size of your average TV remote control, (most of which houses the long-life battery), sits a GPS unit, accelerometer, and a cellular transmitter, which connects to the GSM network and is how the device speaks to your smartphone (iOS and Android for now).
In its simplest setting, BikeSpike can simply track your ride via GPS and monitor your motorcycle in its “lock” mode while you’re away, say, grabbing a bite to eat. The unit can then send you an alert notifying if someone is simply touching your bike, or even if it gets knocked over, depending on the sensitivity level you set for the accelerometer.
Should you choose to go more advanced, the possibilities are nearly endless. For racers or trackday enthusiasts, the GPS can plot your course around a racetrack, record elevation changes, top speeds and chart your lap times. Meanwhile, the accelerometer can track how much lean angle you achieved, plus your acceleration/braking force, just to name a few of its many functions.
Thanks to the open API, or Application Program Interface, the BikeSpike software is only limited to your imagination, no matter what type of riding you do. If you can write code, or know someone who does, you can develop new software for the BikeSpike.
But the BikeSpike has applications beyond tracking laps and geocaching with friends – it could potentially save your life. According to Bill Fienup, a mechanical engineer and one of Neigher’s partners, the software is sophisticated enough to detect an accident based on readings from the accelerometer.
Should one occur, a notification will be sent to your smartphone to check your status. After a predetermined time, if there’s no response, “the BikeSpike will automatically alert as many or as few of your contacts as you want, informing them you’re in an emergency and need help, all based on settings you’ve predetermined. You can be as public or as private as you want,” says Neigher.
The GPS will also send your exact coordinates to help locate you, and if the GPS is blocked, your location can be narrowed down through cell signal triangulation. For legal reasons, BikeSpike can’t directly call authorities, so you’ll have to rely on your emergency contacts.
In less extreme cases, the same technologies can be used to determine if your motorcycle is being tampered with, or even stolen, at which point you can alert authorities and provide them with the GPS tracking info to recover your bike. BikeSpike software allows you to input VIN/license plate numbers, plus pictures of identifying marks to help prove your belongings are in fact yours.
BikeSpike’s casing is rather robust and can withstand some punishment, but in the event an accident is severe enough to damage it, the act itself will alert the accelerometer to send a distress signal. “You can strike it with a hammer and it will still do its job,” says Neigher. And since all the data tracked is sent to separate external servers and not kept within the device, its data is still available even if the physical components are destroyed.
As mentioned earlier, the device was originally meant for bicycles, so its mounting points are meant for bike frames at the moment. Should there be enough funding, moto-specific versions will be developed. Still, it can be installed in any number of areas on your motorcycle, including saddlebags or trunks, though a location with the least obstructed view of the sky is best for GPS and cellular functions.
Neigher claims the battery can last as long as a month without recharging, but an optional power adapter will be available, enabling you to use your motorcycle as a power source while riding. This adapter, along with the BikeSpike and 12-month cell plan (required to make all the features work) are yours as part of the $229 “The Hacker Plan.”
However, all of this means little at the moment, as Neigher and his team still need the capital to see the BikeSpike come to life on a larger scale. The team has turned to the popular crowdsourcing site Kickstarter to help raise the $150,000 sum needed to turn this dream into reality. As of Monday moring (April 8) they are only about $15,000 short of their goal. The Kickstarter period ends Tuesday, April 9 at 4:33pm EST.
Those who pledge $150 or more will receive a BikeSpike. However, the cellular plan costs $7.99 - $12.99 monthly depending on the plan, though discounts are being applied for early adopters. A nominal sum for a serious enthusiast.
“We’re building a community where like-minded enthusiasts can look out for each other,” Neiger says. “I’m sure motorcyclists, like bicyclists, have a similar mindset and like sharing their experiences with their friends and family through social media, which is possible with the BikeSpike. And when you need help, that network is there to get your back.”
The BikeSpike has the potential to be a revolutionary device for motorcyclists, powersports enthusiasts and, yes, bicyclists, but the small team of just five people need your help to make it happen. Visit http://www.bikespike.com/ and the BikeSpike Kickstarter page for more information and to pledge a donation.