13 April, 2016

Say goodbye to bike theft

Some cool news to share today regarding SmartHalo’s alarm system. We’ve had to log in some overtime to reach our goal with this feature so we’re happy to finally show you the results.

Let’s recap quickly how our alarm works.

SmartHalo is equipped with an accelerometer that detects movement. When you aren’t on your bike (thus your phone’s Bluetooth is not in range), SmartHalo goes in defense mode: unwanted movement increases an alarm meter. This translates into the halo filling up in red. If the movement threshold is broken, the alarm goes off. We have set this threshold to prevent accidental triggering: bikes can normally fall or be bumped into. We wouldn’t want the alarm to go off every single time your bikes gets shaken less than a few seconds. Also: we’d rather scare off the thief with our warning countdown and not ring the alarm, rather than have an annoying alarm that always goes off (think car alarms).

How does the alarm get deactivated? By simply having your phone in your pocket since SmartHalo will always recognize you. In the odd chance that your phone’s out of battery, you can deactivate the alarm with your own unique tapcode that you’ve previously set up. Simply input it on SmartHalo’s touch surface.

What’s so hard about implementing an alarm system?

To put sound levels into context, let’s take a look at a decibel chart showing various sound levels and their real-life counterparts:

Decibel chart

From the get-go, we knew we wouldn’t reach a sound level as high as a 110dB car alarm, for obvious reasons: a car horn alone is bigger than a SmartHalo unit. For us, the ideal alarm had to be at least louder than street traffic (70dB). So a 80dB alarm sounded reasonable… We just had to find a way to make it happen.

As you might know, small speakers usually emit little sound. Considering SmartHalo is a small device, having a loud alarm was a real head-scratcher. Also, having a weather resistant case (which means as little openings as possible), yet wanting an hole for sound to travel was a bit counter-intuitive.

How did we do it?

To be honest, the first implementation of our alarm speaker led to disappointing results. We had trouble getting above the 60dB range. It worked, sure, but, as with all of SmartHalo’s features, we didn’t want to settle for “just okay”. As a matter of fact, we will always be ready to chip in a bit of extra time to make a feature stand out.

Inspecting a few portable alarm products led us to better understand the mechanics of sound enclosures. We were also able to keep the product weather-proof by lining the speaker’s opening with a goretex membrane: sounds passes through it but not water, hurray! Coupled with a custom designed piezo speaker that fits perfectly inside SmartHalo, we’re happy to announce our final alarm design reaches 90 to 107dB at a 10 cm distance as you can see in the video below (pro tip: turn the sound down!). Honestly, that thing screams, even at a distance. As a matter of fact, the whole office kind of resented the engineering team while they were doing their tests…

We hope you are as excited as we are for our alarm system! Next week we will finally reveal SmartHalo’s locking mechanism.


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