Just in: Spylamp

Clever light lets you track your bike if it's nicked

by Dave Atkinson   April 19, 2011  

Spylamp

Where's your bike? Chained up in town where you left it, or in the hands of some nefarious type in a lockup in the bad part of town? Once your bike gets nicked normally your only course of action is to ring the Police station for your crime number and then get onto your insurance company. But it'd be a lot easier if you could just take the rozzers round and get it back. Say hello to the Spylamp.

Basically it's a standard-looking LED light containing a GPS chip and a pay-as-you-go SIM card. Most of the time it just sits there attached to your bike, you can even use it as a rear light should you so wish. If your pride and joy gets nicked, however, the GPS will do its magic and track the bike, drawing a nice line on a Google map for you to follow to the tea-leaf's house.

To set the Spylamp up you just need a SIM card and your mobile phone: changing settings is simply a case of texting the unit a few simple commands, and it'll respond to let you know that it's been done. If you're leaving your bike then a long press on the on/off button activates a vibration sensor in the light: if anyone tampers with your bike then the Spylamp will text you to let you know, and then start tracking its location and uploading it to a free mapping service.

Even if you forget to set the vibration sensor all hope is not lost: you can text the Spylamp to ask it to start tracking and it turns itself on periodically to check its status. You can even adjust the wake-up time via the settings. The battery is charged via USB and the manufacturers suggest that in normal use you can expect it to last up to a year between charges; you can text the unit to find out what the battery condition is like.

We haven't set up our sting operation yet (look out for that) but we have had a chance to fiddle with the Spylamp and we're mostly impressed. Okay, if a thief knows that it's a tracker then it wouldn't be hard to remove – even with the steel lanyard that keeps it in place – but it looks just like a normal light so it won't arouse any suspicion in a casual thief. GPS chips need a line of sight to the sky to operate, so hiding the unit inside the frame or components of a bike isn't really a goer, and replacing a component (such as a saddle or handlebars) won't appeal to owners of higher-value bikes. The rear light is a decent compromise.

So far we've just checked that it works: we stuck it on the balcony outside the office and texted it to update its location. The map that was returned had a Google Streetview image of more or less the exact spot, the arrow was about six feet off. Impressive stuff. We'll give it a proper test where we dress up a stooge in a stripy top and mask and get them to nick a bike from town and take it to an undisclosed location... stay tuned for that one.

The Spylamp is available through Magicshine UK

6 user comments

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So it needs line of sitght to a satellite? Does this mean that if it is taken indoors by the theif that it gives an approximate location?

Would this be the same if located in a seatpost etc....?

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing..."

Cooks's picture

posted by Cooks [468 posts]
19th April 2011 - 15:16

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Cooks wrote:
So it needs line of sitght to a satellite? Does this mean that if it is taken indoors by the theif that it gives an approximate location?

Would this be the same if located in a seatpost etc....?

yes: if it's taken indoors then it reverts to gsm triangulation which is good to about 200m.

having said that about hiding the tracker i'm told that the chaps behind the spylamp are working on a version that's concealed inside a stem, and they're confident that they can make that work too...

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7044 posts]
19th April 2011 - 15:59

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dave_atkinson wrote:

having said that about hiding the tracker i'm told that the chaps behind the spylamp are working on a version that's concealed inside a stem, and they're confident that they can make that work too...

I'd totally buy that.

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing..."

Cooks's picture

posted by Cooks [468 posts]
21st April 2011 - 19:54

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I'm really interested in one of these. Has anyone actually tried using one or had any success with it?

botoxking's picture

posted by botoxking [30 posts]
17th June 2011 - 12:44

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review soon...

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7044 posts]
17th June 2011 - 13:00

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I wouldn't buy this device because is not built well. It doesn't work properly and the support people are not professional enough even though is not a cheap device. I want to share my experience with SpyLamp 2.

I ordered SpyLamp around May, I'm located in Canada so I guessed that was going to take some time for it to arrive.

First took like 3 weeks just to get a tracking number after I paid I have to mention that to get it I needed to contact them. They apologize with the excuse that they were changing mail carriers. So finally I got a tracking number after almost a month of paying.

I finally received the device on July. I left it charging and went to buy a SIM card to test it, I noticed that every time I disconnected it was turning off. I gave a couple of tries and the device was not working.

I contacted support again and they said the battery was not working and that they will send a battery so I disassemble the bad one and assemble the new one. Kinda weird but there you go another waiting.

Is October and never got anything. I think I was very patient but I realize that was time to contact them again. They said that they sent the battery since July and that they assumed that I got it and everything was fine (btw the assumption means no tracking number again). I let them know that I never got it. I asked for my refund because more than 5 months passed. Since then they ignore my messages and I haven't heard back from them again.

So you guys think about it before buying a device that is useless and expensive.

Thanks
Juan

posted by utopiavisual [1 posts]
2nd November 2013 - 17:53

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