If your car could text — and catch a crook

Your car may be able to text you when someone is breaking in — and send you an image of the thief in action.

Here’s how one start-up is trying to protect your from car prowlers. And car hackers!

Watch here:

 

If Cars Could Text

What kind of text message would you get from your car?

“Turn that down!”

“You spilled coffee AGAIN?”

“I’m exhausted.”

But it might also have something really important to say.

Like, “Help, someone is breaking in and stealing your back pack right now. And here’s what he looks like.”

A new start-up is trying to make that become a reality.

Standing Guard

Benigno Hernandez of Apprendia Tech would rather not wait by the car all day.

But after a thief broke his car window and stole his laptop outside a Starbucks, he wishes someone could stand guard.

“My car was broken into,” he said in an interview with Archer News“I was mad. I didn’t know what to do.”

 

Benigno Hernandez explains how his car camera works in New Orleans in 2018. Image: Archer News

 

Surveillance cameras later showed the thief walked right by him with his stuff that day in November 2017 — and he didn’t even know.

“If I somehow knew he was the guy, I could have stopped him and say, ‘Hey, that’s my bag,’ or, ‘That’s my laptop.’ I didn’t know who it was,” Hernandez said. “So, I started thinking, ‘How can I solve this problem?’”

He invented his own device to help.

Not a traditional noisy alarm that people ignore, but one that sends a text to the car’s owner, along with an image of the thief in action.

He calls in “CarGuard,” and traveled from his home country of Mexico to New Orleans in 2018 to talk to investors.

“I wanted to solve the problem of giving people enough time to know what’s going on with their car,” he said to Archer News in New Orleans. “Maybe call police. I’m not trying to get them to their car immediately and say, start a fight with the guy.

But at least I’m giving them more time to act.”

Stopping Thieves

Hernandez is not the only one working on nabbing crooks through sensors and cameras.

Owl advertises its car cam as a way to identify — and catch — car prowlers and car thieves.

The Volterman smart wallet says it will take a picture of the person who grabs your billfold and help you track it down.

 

The Owl camera advertises that it captures car prowlers in action. Image: Owl Cameras

 

Stopping Cyber Thieves

But even security devices need security themselves.

Start-ups need to make sure the things they have designed to help you can’t hurt you as well.

Hernandez said connected devices are targets for digital thieves.

Without protection, cyber crooks could take them over and use them to attack other people and computers, like the big Internet attack of October 2016, when big sites like Reddit, PayPal and Spotify went down.

Cyber thieves could also steal your data and images or spy on you through your security camera, he said.

Plus, if you want to use the images in court, you want them to be tamper proof and hacker-free.

Car security experts warn that attackers will likely turn to third-party devices and apps to attack cars in the future.

 

Experts warn third-party apps and devices could let attackers in to your car in the future. Image: Skitterphoto

 

Track Record

These kinds of connected devices — known as the Internet of Things — often have poor security.

Last month, researchers from Michigan and Brazil  published the results of testing on four apps and their smart devices, finding them easy to hack:

 

—The TP-Link Kasa app for controlling smart home devices from Kasa

—The LIFX app for controlling LIFX smart lights

—The WeMo app for controlling WeMo smart home products

—The e-Control app for smart home devices from Broadlink

 

The researchers say all are vulnerable to attackers who want to get into your house and cause trouble.

Two of the app makers responded to The Register and said they were aware of the issues and— in at least one case — were working to improve security.


A YouTube video demonstrates the LIFX smart app & light bulbs in action. Image: Valentina Dang

 

Focus on Security

Hernandez said he is focusing on security, updating CarGuard’s parts and encryption, scrambling the data from the device so someone can’t eavesdrop on you and your images.

His goal — to make sure his creation can protect itself, too, as well as your car.

Not every start-up succeeds.

If all goes well, Hernandez plans to officially launch his product in a year at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

If not, other companies may be ready to step in and offer you the same kinds of services, like Raven, Auto-i, Owl and Waylens.

Be ready for a future with messages from your car, whether you’re driving it, or relaxing inside a coffee shop.

“I’m out of gas.”

“Wash me.”

“Your teenage son is behind the wheel and things are getting crazy. Come and get me!”

 

 

Main image: Car in New Orleans. Image: Archer News

 

 

 



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