Sep 102011
 
Collateral damage of a drug-related theft

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A self-taught inventor in Africa devised a mobile phone-based anti-theft device for cars, combining technology from some of past projects to stop car thieves in their tracks.

Morris Mbetsa, an 18-year-old in Mombasa, Kenya, with no formal electronics training, is seeking inventors to help him commercially develop the “Block and Track,” a mobile phone-based anti-theft device and tracking system.

Mbetsa’s invention uses voice, DTMC and SMS text messages over a wireless service to carry codes and messages to control a vehicle’s electrical systems. The system can manage vehicle activation and disable the car in real time, so if the car is stolen, the car owner can send a message to immediately stop the car. Mbetsa’s invention also has a tracking device that will locate the car on a map.

The system also features the ability to call the car’s owner for permission to start the car, and allows the owner to listen in on conversations in the vehicle.

Mbetsa said he got the idea for the device a few years ago, when someone carjacked his friend’s car.

The invention may go over well with people who wish to add car security to their vehicles without subscribing to satellite services such as OnStar or Ford’s Sync.

Both of those services track down cars, lock and unlock doors and even start cars remotely. The difference between satellite services and Mbetsa’s invention, however, is that satellite services require a paid subscription, while owners can adapt cars for Mbetsa’s invention and then operate the device with a cell phone.

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