SHYSPY | GPS/GSM Tracker For Bicycles
SHYSPY is a bicycle GPS Tracker that enables you to keep a record of your cycling activity and also find your bicycle in case of theft.
There are two main deterrents to cycling: road safety and theft.
SHYSPY GPS tracker not only enables cyclists to track their cycling activity but also to locate their stolen bikes in case of crime.
SHYSPY GPS works in much the same way as other GPS tracking devices, the unit uses a combination of a mobile SIM card along with a GPS module to accurately track the location of your bike to and deliver this data to your desktop or mobile device via a data connection.
This version of our device offers the maximum accuracy and protection for your bike. Due to the location of the device we have incorporated both wireless and USB charging to alleviate the need to remove the device every few weeks just to top up the battery.
Some of the hardware features:
- Long battery life. In passive mode (not tracking but connected to network) it can operate for 5 weeks continuously. It can also easily support a power down mode in which it will listen to external events (e.g., motion detection) and can run for months at a time (most likely even a year)
- Quad band GSM connectivity, meaning compatibility with all GSM networks.
Now, there are plenty of other trackers out there, so what makes this one special? Besides the aforementioned simplicity of the hardware, we see that most trackers today fall in two categories:
- The first one uses hardware which is sold at a loss with a monthly contract to access the tracking data
- The second one sends tracking information to a cell phone using SMS where the user can see the coordinates and open a link in Google Maps
Both have some serious disadvantages. The first one has a monthly cost attached even if you're not using the tracker. Furthermore, all the tracking data sits on a third party server. If there is a security breach or if the provider goes out of business your data could very well be compromised or lost.
The second one has a problem of usability. What if you want to track 3 or 4 or a lot more bikes? How do you efficiently manage this data? Sending text messages to the tracker is prone to errors and can be very tedious. Getting the data back and clicking on a link to get you to a Google map might work for one tracking point, but what if you are tracking a bike over time and need to see a history of your cycling activity?
The advantage of the second one however is that it uses SMS for the communication of tracking data from or commands to the tracker. Why SMS is a good idea over other technologies such as GPRS, EDGE or 3G/4G?
- Coverage: works even with connections that are not good enough for voice, and is available where other network services are not
- The network itself acts as a buffer in case one of the communicating ends has no connection
- The amount of power needed to send an SMS is much less than to e.g., set up a TCP connection over GPRS
- Point to Point communication without the need for a server with static IP address
These, and other criteria make that SMS is a very good method specially for the cyclists who want to use the gps tracker as a security device, meaning that they may not need to track the bike for months and even years but they need to have the tracker ready at any moment if the bike crime happens.
We just had to simplify the manual process of sending SMS with a software system: SHYSPY desktop and mobile app just do that for you. and gives you the choice to choose between either GPRS or SMS tracking methods and benefit from the one that suits you better.
When it comes to keeping track of our cycling activity, there are a large variety of choices:
- Inexpensive Cycle computers: to record the distance, speed, total travel time, but no geolocation data.
- GPS trackers: There are a lot of GPS trackers out there, in form of wearable watches, or mountable on your stem or handlebars. Professional models could have many additional functions such as power meter, heart rate and cadence sensors; And yeah... they cost a fortune. So you have to protect it as well; Mount it when you ride and take it away when you leave the bike unattended.
- Smartphones: Using our cellphone along with popular sport tracking apps such as Endomondo, Strava and Sportstracker is another convenient choice; There is a compromise though and it's the risk of running out of battery on your mobile phone when you need it the most.
- With SHYSPY however, you always have a tracker with your bike; The long battery life of 30 hours, lets you track all the activities with no concern of any kind. Using the SHYSPY app you could monitor you activity and/or download it in GPX standard format to be later uploaded manually to major sport tracker platforms such as: Endomondo, Strava and Sportstracker, so you could compare your data with other members and socialize your cycling experience.
SHY-SPY GSM is our low cost alternative to GPS tracking.
The device uses cell tower triangulation to calculate the location of your device based on signal strength. While this method is significantly less accurate than GPS tracking it does have the added benefit of being completely free of any ongoing data costs since it relies on a GSM signal rather than transmitting any data. If police track your bike, you don't even have to pay for SMS to locate the bike.
in cities with larger number of cell towers GSM tracking should be accurate to within 100 meters while in rural and remote locations this may rise to up to 10 km( It absolutely depends on the density and distance of cell towers) The idea of this product occurred to us while searching for a more economic alternative for gps trackers and we decided to develop SHYSPY GSM tracker. the concept of GSM trackers are not new, so we could design very easily on prior knowledge such as a great open-source project by open electronics.
GSM tracker in practice:
The bigger the city, the more serious becomes the problem of bike theft.
In a small village one can not ride stolen properties without being noticed, in a metropolitan however with hundreds of thousands of cyclists and bikes, you would have a minimal chance to have your stolen bicycle once again.
What if we knew whereabouts of our stolen bike? What if we knew in which neighborhood it is being ridden?
SHY-SPY GSM-tracking does that for you. With accuracy from 100 to 200 meters in the cities to few thousands in remote areas, it allows you to know, in which neighborhood/ is your bike located.
This technology is fairly old and for years it has been deployed by emergency call centers to locate caller’s position; it is based on measuring power levels and antenna patterns and uses the concept that a powered mobile phone always communicates wirelessly with one of the closest base stations, Good thing about it is that in contrary to GPS technology it also works just fine at indoor spaces. In essence SHY SPY GSM tracker is a device similar to your old cell-phone, it doesn't have a screen and instead it has a motion sensor and a huge battery.
But How does a bike cellphone could help your bike to find her way back to you??
The first and best option is that you involve the police and ask them to track the bike cell number.. it was and still is a common practice for police to locate criminals by tracking their handsets and they want to do the same for your bike.
But we don’t live in a perfect world and It’s possible that Police response is not as fast and as adequate as you expect… so you may consider tracking your bike and find it on your own.
Primarily we wanted to design the simplest form of GSM unit and count on online mobile phone tracking systems such as followus.co.uk, world-tracker.com, mobilephonelocate.com , which with a small fee per track, one can locate his phone on their platform, but we noticed that they wouldn't work in all countries and all mobile service providers so we decided to develop our system with built-in tracking feature to make it even easier for our users to track their bikes and avoid those small fees as well. You would pay only for each SMS that you send and receive.
Either via SMS or through SHYSPY app, you could locate your bike and once you have located your bike, based on your preference you can take several measures to find your bike and get it back.
As said before, the GSM tracking is not as precise as full GPS tracking but it is precise enough to locate the neighborhood. That gives you the possibility to simply go and visit that neighborhood personally, if you are lucky you may find your bicycle parked somewhere in vicinity.
And If you don't find your bike on your own you can always ask for help.
If you know the neighborhood, putting some ads may be an option to get some help from the residents of that vicinity and this could increase the risk of riding stolen bikes…
The worst situation is when your bike in another city… Don’t worry. There is still a solution for that… The thieves may try to sell the bike online, you could spend less time finding their Ad if you know where they are situated now.
In the mean time you can Write in local forums of that city and alert the cyclists of your loss. In cyclingboom.com/cyclists we have also provided the possibility to search cyclists based on their location. hopefully this could turn to a great source of community help as the number of registered users increases.
Charging and battery options
SHYSPY trackers come with an ultra high capacity 18650 Li-ion battery (roughly 2500 mAh). This battery already enables you to track your cycling activity for at least 30 hours; if that is not enough, You may also pledge for an extra battery and increase the battery up to 5000 mAh. please note that this choice is 68mm longer than our basic trackers, (22 cm in total) and you may have to cut and shorten your seatpost to have space for this lengthy tracker. please read compatibility section before pledging for extra battery.
Despite that our trackers are hidden inside the frames, one is not required to remove the SHYSPY unit in order to charge the battery:
All the trackers come with an external antenna which in our case would not only be an antenna but also the USB charging point of the GPS unit itself. (this is not in our current prototype but will be integrated in all our GPS and GSM antennas in our production series).
If you have a non metallic frame, you may also pledge for a wireless charger and integrated receiver that could top up your battery level using wireless induction charging methods. Read more about wireless charging here.
We have tried to optimize our design in order to reduce the power consumption as much as possible: in general and depending on kind of deployment of the device and tracking intervals, the battery would have a battery life up to 30 hrs of constant tracking to a month of being in alert mode and up to a year in sleep mode ready to be activated by motion detection.
In order to have SHYSPY on your bike, you must have a bike with an internal seat tube with internal diameter of at least 26 mm and also a seatpost with a hole on top of it that allows wire routing from antenna to the GPS unit.
If you don't have such a seatpost, you may buy it online at £9.99. We may also be able to include these seatposts in our reward package but it would be a better choice if you visit a local bikeshop or online stores and chose a seatpost of your exact size and also avoid double taxation and double shipments.
Here are some products compatible with SHYSPY:
Another Important issue to consider is the length of the seat tube: If you have a bike with bottle-cage, chances are that those bosses and the screws would block the way of tracker toward the bottom bracket (this is more likely in case of 26 and 27 mm seat tubes), so make sure that you have enough space for both tracker and seatpost above the bottle cage. In some cases cutting and shortening the seatpost would resolve this problem, but not always specially in case of extra battery this problem could be more severe.
If you have a carbon saddle. this may also weaken or block the signal
Wireless charging is available for both GPS and GSM models but it compatible only with non metallic frames Bamboo bikes and carbon. on the other hand the efficiency of the wireless charging is directly linked with the distance of receiver RX module from the transmitter. The charger would begin charging only when it senses a receiver module in a close distance (around 5mm or less) so if the cross section of your Bamboo frame/ carbon seatpost is not similar to the circular section of our charger (circle of 32mm radius), this feature may not work efficiently for you.
Desktop and mobile app compatibility
Our desktop app is compatible with Microsoft windows, Linux & Mac.
We have already developed the mobile app for android which is compatible with major android devices( back to android 2.3) and we will have it ready also for ios in case of successful fund.
We use quadband GSM module which is compatible with all 850/ 900/ 1800/ 1900 MHz networks. It works in almost everywhere in the world except for japan and Corea. http://www.worldtimezone.com/gsm.html
An audible loud alarm you can trigger from the app would be another option that we are considering to implement in both GPS and GSM devices. Using this feature however would be at your own discretion since it would give away the presence of SHYSPY on your bike and may have the thief to disarm and destroy the tracker, but on the other hand it may cause a panic for the thief and force him to leave the bicycle and escape. we would be able to implement this feature even in first production run providing that your feedback and comments proves us that its worth of it so let us know what you think.
Bluetooth Wireless pairing
Bluetooth pairing allows you to Transfer the tracking data directly from your GPS unit to your Cell via Bluetooth connection(no gprs data involved), This data could be saved in a standard .gpx file which could be manually entered to major sport tracking platforms such as Endomondo, Sports-tracker and Strava.
All our trackers come with an external antenna that although is well hidden under the saddle, but still prone to be discovered by professional thieves as more people get to know about SHYSPY and more thieves get caught because of it. With enough investment we can however integrate and protect our device's antenna inside a seatpost that fully encloses the antenna but doesn't block the GPS signal. So the thief would have zero chance to discover and disarm the tracker.
Another area that we are keen to work on for the future are new ways to enable self-charging of the devices. We are currently looking into a number of methods such as Induction charging and piezoelectric generators to reclaim some of the energy created by the movement and vibration of bikes but unfortunately GPS units consume a lot of power and our primary experiments shows that at this stage we can not count on self charging method as the principal method of charging the device, yet we are planning to work in this domain and if we succeed we would offer an upgrade self-charger to be replaced with your extra battery and help topping up the battery level each time you go for a ride. That is not however a viable substitution for the current USB charging since we are aware it may take hours of movements just to generate enough power for GPS unit to just to get a lock on satellites.
Another option that we are considering to experiment with in future developments is that this tracker could be equipped with necessary means to automatically pickup the calls from authorized numbers… having this option means that you can listen to surrounding noises through integrated mic on the external antenna which may help you recognize the location or the thief himself… Technically there are some difficulties with this option since it would increase the cost of board and development and the Mic itself would not be able to receive a good quality of surrounding voices if the subject are far away. But that is not our sole concern since we also have privacy concerns that keeps this feature still in debate within our development team, so please don’t spare your opinion in this regard in comment section. integration of such feature in future models, totally depends on your feedback to it in this kickstarter campaign and we look forward to hear from you.
Where your money will be spent? Why Kickstarter?
SHYSPY has been in development for a little over 12 months and to date we have developed several working prototypes of the devices, design and development of our product has required us a lot of money and time as each prototyping phase may cost ten times more than a final product in the market.
We have already obtained CE and FCC certificate for our earlier GPS tracker but we need excessive tests to make sure our final design would also comply with CE and FCC regulations. This may add a lot to the cost of the test specially if we want to add Bluetooth pairing functionality.
Furthermore, In order to offer an affordable device for all cyclists and not a luxury gadget just for elite, we need to have enough orders to proceed with the manufacturing of the PCB boards in a quantity that allows us in lowering overhead costs.
We need to buy the electronic pieces in bulk and we also have to pay a lot for the injection molding of plastic container. These are some of the costs that unfortunately we can not undergo anymore without your support and we hope with your help, our efforts would end up as a useful product in your hands that could deter bike thefts and help you in retrieval of your bike.
We already have developed Android and desktop applications. but we need to redesign the app for iPhone and consequently windows phone devices as well.
Your opinions matter
Another reason why we started this campaign prior to production run is that we really love to hear your opinions and comments about different aspects of our design and we look forward to hearing from you.
We appreciate your support very much and try to reward you with something you would love to keep. Here are some of our rewards that we hope you would love them.
Security kit (security screw and key for seatpost clamp)
In regard to bike crime, we face 2 problems. theft of bikes and theft from bikes. Theft of seatpost and saddles are common in many cities and this problem in particular could jeopardize usability and security of our trackers, so every tracker comes complete with a security screw and its key to make sure you would not get your tracker stolen by a thief who intended to steal a saddle.
GPS and GSM trackers.
Our GPS and GSM trackers are pretty much the same in appearance, they come in the same container with optional wireless and extra batteries.
Here is what you get:
Current funding status
WRD systems & Cyclingboom gathered together in order to develop SHYSPY project and this versatile team has helped us significantly to take a look at different aspects of bike theft from different perspectives.
Johan is a published researcher and involved in many projects around the world in the fields of cryptography, robotics, embedded systems, software engineering and development, systems and security, machine vision and learning, software team management and many others. He has been a lecturer at the Vaasa University and Vaasa University of Applied Sciences in Finland and has given guest lectures at leading Universities all over the world. He has also headed a software division as Director of Software for a company active in the development of ARM-processor based computing platforms in the United States. In this function, he also participated in a DARPA funded Raytheon project for the U.S. Department of Defense. Contact him
Andy has more than ten years of experience in sales, marketing and business development, having worked on projects for companies around the world. He has published hundreds of articles on marketing and regularly contributes to a number of marketing and business journals. He is managing director and WRD systems and CEO at BWR Associates
Mohsen is an experienced designer with great passion for sustainable and smart solutions for a better future. He funded Cyclingboom on 2012 with main focus on bike theft deterrence, p2p bike sharing and in general for promotion of cycling as a mean of transport.
Risks and challenges
As always, there are some risks and challenges involved in a project like this, but we can mitigate most of them.
- Since our prototype is fully tested there are no risks in terms of the product its self, we just need to start the process of manufacturing.
- The experience of the team makes that none of the aspects of the project such as developing and commercialising hardware, writing and releasing software, managing projects and funds are new. Everyone on the team has a proven track record.
Nevertheless, some other potential problems can arise:
-Component supply. If there are some components and modules with a larger than expected lead time, we might go over our estimated schedule. This is something we have experience with in the past, and we're trying to mitigate these situations to the best of our abilities, but it can be completely out of our hands.
-Even though the PCB changes between the production version and prototype version are minimal, there can be problems with it. The way we will mitigate this risk is by getting a production version board build as soon as possible to verify the changes before producing larger quantity. Should there be unexpected issues, then this could lead to another round of testing and a secondary test version which could lead to unforeseen delays. We believe however that our review process mitigates this risk.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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