I need someone to explain this to me.

Teenager invents vehicular antitheft system


We are very inspired by the story of [Morris Mbetsa], an 18-year-old Kenyan who’s invented the “Block & Track”, an antitheft and tracking system for vehicles that’s phone-based. [Mbetsa] has no formal training, but he’s been a lifelong inventor and tinkerer. [Mbetsa] combined voice, DTMF, and SMS text messaging technologies with cellphone based services to allow the owner to control the vehicle’s electrical system remotely. The owner, using his cellphone, can take control of the ignition, and disable it at any time. Other features include the ability to lock the car remotely, and the capability of dialing into the car and listening in on any conversations taking place within the vehicle. [Mbetsa] is currently looking for funding to take his invention to the next level; we’re eager to see what he’ll come up with next.

[via Digg]

Comments

  1. carl says:

    Isn’t this called ONSTAR?

  2. lwr says:

    Sounds like an aftermarket On-Star http://www.onstar.com/us_english/jsp/index.jsp

    Suspect it’ll have trouble with patents in the US – I imagine GM will have everything in this area sewn up.

    Pity – I’d love to buy a kit and add this sort of function to my car.

  3. Jelengar says:

    hmm, correct me if i am wrong, but i believe that this has already been invented, as the matter of fact i am pretty sure that chinese companies are producing similar products. and what is so supposed to be so invative about it anyway? it’s not even gprs based…

    don’t get me wrong, it is an impressive project, especially for a 18year old, but i wouldn’t call it an innovation…

  4. marcello says:

    I’d be curious to discover to which extent people are willing to endanger their lives[*] or, well, risk annoyance ;) to avoid losing things to theft.

    [*] a cellphone controlled system that can more or less control your car isn’t exactly the safest thing that comes to my mind

    M

  5. fartface says:

    You have been able to buy GSM car alarms for 5 years now. I had this ability in my Suzuki sidekick for 2 years now, I can even honk the horn and verbally abuse the people in the car.

    So this kid invented something that you have been able to buy for years….

    Hey I invented a portable computer that folds in 1/2 and runs on batteries! I’ll call it the lap-top.

    can I get a story here on hack-a-day?

  6. Thomas says:

    Sounds like a great opportunity for a remake… Arduino + Texting Cell phone + some strategically placed relays…

  7. AGiganticPanda says:

    It’s because the kid did it himself. Jeez.

  8. Alex says:

    In full agreement with the comments above, this is great publicity for the person in question but what he has created is not at all new.

    We provide remote immobilization technology as part of our telematics, fleet management, asset monitoring and security platform at Kinishi http://kinishi.com and we support a range of interfaces including mobile phones.

    Thatcham http://www.thatcham.org (The Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre) in the UK even has a whole category (Category 5) dedicated to After Theft Systems for Vehicle Recovery that feature remote immobilization.

  9. J Pristel says:

    Yeah, I think the same kid invented the portable music player a couple weeks back…

  10. Michiel says:

    Well.., I have seen projects that deserve more media attention that this one. :?

  11. aaron says:

    I thought you guys were hardware hackers. He did this himself he didn’t buy it like the rest of you.. just because it’s not new doesn’t mean it’s not a hack.

    Hardware hackers go out and buy your stuff commercially!

    You guys are a bunch of idiots.

    Thanks.

  12. SP says:

    I read about this kid using an invention of my own. I call it the internet! ~Al Gore :P

  13. sunjester says:

    i doubt it will revolutionize anything….

  14. Genuis is a bit of a stretch, but damn impressive.

    But the main question is….can it shut down a *lion* remotely? Thats seems more usefule in Kenya.

    Also…installing one of these in a Suzuki Sidekick seems inversely useful…. shouldnt an alarm system in a Sidekick actually toss the ignition keys AT potential theives, while simultaneously starting the engine for them to reduce their wrist strain?

  15. Rod says:

    Give the guy kudos, and stop hating with no former training he managed to do this… On star did it blah blah blah… well considering how much it cost ONSTAR to develop this I am certain it is waaaaay more than it cost this guy.

    So when you look at the ROI, or run the numbers on how efficiently the money was used to develop it this kid has ONSTAR beat…

    Good job to the guy…

  16. CorporalAris says:

    It may not be an invention here in the United States, but in South Africa, where I believe this is filmed, there has never been such a thing. For a self-taught eighteen year old, this is absolutely amazing.

  17. skunk says:

    i think it is a great hack, i want one. why buy something that you think might work when you can make one that will work the way you want it. Stop hating you consumer zombies. onstar charges a subscription fee, this hack just costs another cell phone probably and you got privacy not like onstar.

  18. MadEngineer says:

    This seems to work exactly as units already available. I’d like to see that the kid has actually built this himself, not purchased an alarm kit.

  19. eric says:

    I’m glad to see someone inventing something that can do this despite the idea already existing but he’s going to find the same limitations that the others found(thankfully with less $$$ in R&D), like the fact that all one needs is a device to block cell frequencies. Kudos regardless.

  20. supernova_hq says:

    For all you guys saying “this has already been done”, so has the CNC, yet nobody complains when someone builds on out of printers!

    This kid has created something that usually costs hundreds of dollars (hardware, installation, subscription, etc) and made it out of a cellphone. Not to mention the fact that you are not giving control of your vehicle to a third party (gm).

  21. Vedetta says:

    From what I understood from the video, the “revolutionize” part is this device being cheap to produce and doesn’t need a central network to function other than a mobile telephone provider. Obviously no security is perfect but it could add another layer to the usual steering wheel club.

  22. Morris Mbetsa who hails from Mombasa (I love saying that) should team up with the Blaster people around the block from him and make sms flamethrowers.

  23. Ohm says:

    I just love the fact that no formal training what needed, and he learn it on his own. In retrospect though the concept is easy. but he manage to come up with it.

    anyway, i wish him the best and hope he gets out of poverty.

  24. Morris Mbetsa says:

    Hey, this is Morris the inventor of this system,they are available I know but they are much different.
    1. this system locks doors and unlocks using a mobile phone free of charge,while the others you are charged the sms,
    2.the locks of this system are in such a way that when the thieves remove the system from the car,since the locks are wireless they automatically immobilize the vehicle.
    3.the other systems only blocks ignition or the car electrical system but this system blocks several fuel pipes and the electrical system.

    thanks, for your support.

  25. This technique follows the lifestyle of many people living in today’s generation. What a creative invention.

  26. My car has been vandalised a few times, once someone smashed my windscreen, and once had someone who put in tarmac in both of the door’s keyholes. Now im planning on buying a car alarm, so nobody dares touching my car! i went on to ebay to see the car alarms on their and now im totally confused on what they do, because i have never bought a car alarm before.

  27. sim123 says:

    well you just need to do little research according to your requirement, their are plenty of car alarms are available in the market. take a look at car alarm system

  28. Guest says:

    What Happens if his cellphone gets stolen?

  29. mahmud joel says:

    when your phone gets stolen you simply sim swap, that’s all. and to all ya haters better i dare you to invent something of your own-i won’t disqualify your formal training. FYI Morris Mbetsa is doing fine the last time i checked which was…lemme see.. May 7 2010 at an invention convention at KICC Nairobi. He turned down an offer for the US and other countries so his invention could benefit his country.

  30. Eduu says:

    What a fantastic work, keep it up morris. Haters will talk daytime and at night they’ll be sleeping.

  31. buji says:

    Morris,this a good start towards bigger things,keep it up.

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