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Old 05-04-08, 12:49 AM   #1
Leo1903
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Cool Stolen Bikes w/Tracking Chips

With thefts at epidemic proportions in many urban areas, what about tracking chips implanted in secret places on bikes to track stolen ones? Some obvious concerns: Privacy issues, cost, vigilante tactics by owners who track down their bikes, etc.

Possibly, even the knowledge by thieves that chips are prevelent on bikes, it may significantly aid as a deterant against theft?

Last edited by Leo1903; 05-04-08 at 12:56 AM.
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Old 05-04-08, 08:09 AM   #2
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Have seen a product that comes as a paint with little micro discs mixed in it. Each disc has a serial number on it. You can "paint" the discs on a bike in discrete locations, but I don't know if this is exactly what you are thinking of.
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Old 05-04-08, 09:19 AM   #3
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Where would you hide such a device on a bike? Unlike a car, there aren't endless compartments within a bike where you could hide a transmitter. Further, there are miles of cables in a car, which makes powering a device pretty easy; how would you power the TX?

Lastly, if a thief can remove a 1/4" chain, wouldn't they also have the skill to remove such a device?

The big problem with bike theft is that many bike owners practically give their bikes away by improperly locking them. For example, a quick walk in my neighborhood reveals that bike owners believe that having a super expensive lock is enough to deter theft. However, if you are only going to lock up the front wheel to a solid object, then the frame, rear wheel, etc are up for grabs. People would be much better served by reading the directions that came with their uber lock than having to resort to some Hi-Tech solution for preventing theft
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Old 05-05-08, 08:24 AM   #4
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Where would you hide such a device on a bike? Unlike a car, there aren't endless compartments within a bike where you could hide a transmitter. Further, there are miles of cables in a car, which makes powering a device pretty easy; how would you power the TX?
There are devices called RFIDs that are extremely small and can be applied like a sticker; my employee badge has one embedded in it. They don't need to be self-powered, an external scanner provides the electrical field needed to power and read them. They're used all the time in "chipping" pets, the livestock industry to count cattle, even Walmart requires all of their suppliers to have RFIDs on pallets of goods for warehouse tracking.
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Old 05-05-08, 02:24 PM   #5
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The problem with an RFID is that you still need to get fairly close with a scanner. LoJack & co work because you can detect them from a good distance, so it's not a huge drag for enforcement.

Might as well just encourage bike makers to stamp a serial number in more places.
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Old 05-05-08, 04:27 PM   #6
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Here you go. http://www2.electronicproducts.com/R...2007-html.aspx

It's tiny and can be hidden in plain sight by just embedding in epoxy and painting over it. With CF frames the chip can be located inside the frame. They cost .20 each when purchased in 100,000 bulk quantity. The owners name, address, and contact information as well as the name of the bicycle shop and serial number would be entered by the dealer when the bike is sold. If I were manufacturing quality bicycles every frame would have an RFID chip.
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Old 05-05-08, 08:29 PM   #7
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Simplicity is better.

What advantages would an RFID tag offer above a stamped serial number in various places? With a stamped serial number in the same place all the time, if the number's defaced, the item is probably stolen. If the number's reported as stolen, it's stolen. You don't need an RFID reader to read a stamped serial number.

RFID tags require a reader and only work over a reasonably short range. You can't sit a donut-eating-cop in his paddywagon with a RFID sensor and have him find the mysterious bike chop shops like they could with a LoJack that has respectable range.

How do you propose to do the fancy programming of the RFID tags securely? Remember, RFID tags don't have not enough range to let a cop track them down easily but do have enough range that I could park my car by the bike shop and pick up the programming signals. Encryption key? People have been fairly good at cracking these sorts of things, either by stealing the private key or by bypassing the whole procedure.

There's pretty much no real advantage of RFID tags over a simple stamped serial number.
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Old 05-05-08, 08:51 PM   #8
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So could Lojack work for bicycles?

http://www.lojack.com/why/pages/what-is-lojack.aspx
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Old 05-06-08, 07:42 AM   #9
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Simplicity is better.

What advantages would an RFID tag offer above a stamped serial number in various places? With a stamped serial number in the same place all the time, if the number's defaced, the item is probably stolen. If the number's reported as stolen, it's stolen. You don't need an RFID reader to read a stamped serial number.

RFID tags require a reader and only work over a reasonably short range. You can't sit a donut-eating-cop in his paddywagon with a RFID sensor and have him find the mysterious bike chop shops like they could with a LoJack that has respectable range.

How do you propose to do the fancy programming of the RFID tags securely? Remember, RFID tags don't have not enough range to let a cop track them down easily but do have enough range that I could park my car by the bike shop and pick up the programming signals. Encryption key? People have been fairly good at cracking these sorts of things, either by stealing the private key or by bypassing the whole procedure.

There's pretty much no real advantage of RFID tags over a simple stamped serial number.
Serial numbers are easy to cover up with glazing putty and paint. Cheap bicycles don't have serial numbers nor are there any requirements they have them. The only time serial numbers are used is by the factory to track the frames during production and by the dealer for warranty service and tuneup. With RFID tracking during production is automated. The dealer loads the owners and dealers information in the chip allowing automated registering and tracking of the product with the manufacturer. Every time the owner brings in the product for service this information is automatically sent to the manufacturer allowing the manufacturer to track and log information. An active cyclist can be placed on marketing lists targeted to there activity's and would actually enjoy marketing media sent to them.
RFID readers are cheap so there is no reason even the smallest bike shop could not afford to own one. Theft recovery is also improved. If the bicycle is ever brought within range of an RFID receiver and it's been reported stolen it can be automatically reported to local authorities for retrieval and return to the owner.
Competitive and training events can be automated reducing or eliminating the number of people required at each check point to log competitors.
These chips are so cheap a bike shop owner can install them on every bike they sell or service eliminating manual entry into a database every time a bicycle is brought in for service and if serviced by another dealer that dealer can easily view the service history of that bicycle.
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Old 05-06-08, 09:02 AM   #10
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If a LBS tracked me like that for the sake of sending me cycling literature they assumed I wanted without asking me first whether I wanted to receive it, I would stop shopping there. I absolutely hate junk mail. I'd be all for tracking devices for the sake of protecting personal property but it shouldn't be used to violate someones privacy.
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Old 05-06-08, 09:15 AM   #11
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So? RFID chips are easy to find with a directional antenna on the reader and a chisel. Or you can just take a microwave apart and use it to fry the RFID hidden inside the carbon fiber frame. Thing is, if you made a requirement that all bikes must have a serial number stamped on a list of locations and not defaced, if it's been puttied over, you know the owner's up to no good. Same way that VIN numbers are with a car.

Plus, your average Joe who is looking at craigslist bikes is going to be able to spot a VIN that's been tampered with but probably won't bother having an RFID reader.

You can guarantee that if it is possible to gather information about your habits, it will be misused.
Would you like your mailbox stuffed with flyers from every bike shop you cruise by? Do you want to be dragged into court because you happened to be biking by the scene of a crime, even if you weren't involved because the cops don't want to actually investigate? Do you want a rouge LBS to drum up business by subtly damaging new bikes made by the competing LBS now that they can pick them out of a big bikerack?

I sure as hell won't "enjoy" extra marketing media being sent to me.

It's going to cost a lot fewer pennies to stamp a serial number on two or three more places than just the bottom bracket than it does to add a few $0.40 RFID tags. But this is going to add up. Given that most of the big players make millions of bikes each year, the cost of RFID tags is going to have a material effect on profitability. Increase the cost by a buck and suddenly you are talking about millions of dollars.

And even though RFID readers are "cheap", it also adds up.

So, unless it's either a feature that people want to have or a legal requirement, nobody's going to be too interested in it.
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Old 05-06-08, 02:11 PM   #12
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So? RFID chips are easy to find with a directional antenna on the reader and a chisel. Or you can just take a microwave apart and use it to fry the RFID hidden inside the carbon fiber frame. Thing is, if you made a requirement that all bikes must have a serial number stamped on a list of locations and not defaced, if it's been puttied over, you know the owner's up to no good. Same way that VIN numbers are with a car.

Plus, your average Joe who is looking at craigslist bikes is going to be able to spot a VIN that's been tampered with but probably won't bother having an RFID reader.

You can guarantee that if it is possible to gather information about your habits, it will be misused.
Would you like your mailbox stuffed with flyers from every bike shop you cruise by? Do you want to be dragged into court because you happened to be biking by the scene of a crime, even if you weren't involved because the cops don't want to actually investigate? Do you want a rouge LBS to drum up business by subtly damaging new bikes made by the competing LBS now that they can pick them out of a big bikerack?

I sure as hell won't "enjoy" extra marketing media being sent to me.

It's going to cost a lot fewer pennies to stamp a serial number on two or three more places than just the bottom bracket than it does to add a few $0.40 RFID tags. But this is going to add up. Given that most of the big players make millions of bikes each year, the cost of RFID tags is going to have a material effect on profitability. Increase the cost by a buck and suddenly you are talking about millions of dollars.

And even though RFID readers are "cheap", it also adds up.

So, unless it's either a feature that people want to have or a legal requirement, nobody's going to be too interested in it.
You may be an RFID user and not even realize it. Every time you go in or out the doors of most retail stores you pass through an RFID system. Did you buy something and use a credit or debit card? More than likely you registered your product under the name of the credit or debit card you used and you were tracked going out the door. All sorts of products now come with RFID chips embedded in the product. Some states are embedding them in drivers licenses and there in every passport issued in this and most other countries. If you can just hold your credit or debit card close to the card reader to make your purchase you just used RFID. Every time you enter or leave a store they read all the RFID chips your carrying and you would never know it. These chips are so small they can be injected in your pet or even in you Even if you knew where the RFID chip was located in the product you purchased you would end up destroying the item to get at the chip.
check this link for more information.
http://www.emmicroelectronic.com/Det...asp?IdNews=103

Last edited by n4zou; 05-06-08 at 02:21 PM.
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Old 05-08-08, 05:35 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Leo1903 View Post
With thefts at epidemic proportions in many urban areas, what about tracking chips implanted in secret places on bikes to track stolen ones? Some obvious concerns: Privacy issues, cost, vigilante tactics by owners who track down their bikes, etc.

Possibly, even the knowledge by thieves that chips are prevelent on bikes, it may significantly aid as a deterant against theft?
I suppose it could surely be done. Personally, I have trouble keeping the batteries in my lights fresh, much less keeping up batteries for a tracking device.

If I had a tracking device on my bicycle, my only chance of finding my stolen bicycle would be if the thief was kind enough to change the batteries in the tracking device.
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Old 05-08-08, 07:44 AM   #14
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I suppose it could surely be done. Personally, I have trouble keeping the batteries in my lights fresh, much less keeping up batteries for a tracking device.

If I had a tracking device on my bicycle, my only chance of finding my stolen bicycle would be if the thief was kind enough to change the batteries in the tracking device.
Thats the beauty of RFID. No batteries required! The reader provides a wireless signal that charges a capacitor in the RFID chip allowing it to transmit it's data to the reader. If an item is reported stolen it's entered in a data base of stolen RFID tags so anytime that stolen item is anywhere near a reader it's location is automatically reported.
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Old 05-09-08, 03:13 PM   #15
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My dog is chipped...same thing?
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