Considering the huge amount of locally designed apps and gadgets to make it big, it seems like 2018 is the year of South African technological innovation. The latest item to be added to this list was developed to try and stymie criminals that commit a pervasive, but not at all uniquely South African problem: hijacking.

Cape Town-based retired computer programmer, Phred Howroyd came up with a novel way to stop would-be hijackers in their tracks by linking one’s car to your cellphone, allowing a hijacking victim to remotely cut the engine, lock the doors or even flash the lights and blow the hooter.

Howroyd’s desire to develop such a device was kindled after a 2002 incident in Delft on the Cape Flats, during which a girl of about 10 years old was shot dead after she took too long to exit the vehicle. After realising that there was no anti-hijacking device on the market – neither locally, nor internationally – Howroyd started working on what he calls Hijack/Theft Stop. After refining and modifying the initial design over the years, Howroyd’s patent has now been registered, and he is looking to start manufacturing and marketing the system soon.

How it works

Speaking to the Tygerburger newspaper, Howroyd explains how his anti-hijacking device would work.

“The design is simple but foolproof – providing there is cellphone coverage in the area. The system is fitted into your car and wired up to several components of the engine, ready to trigger the commands you send it, within only five seconds.”

“In case of a hijack, the motorist has two options, depending on circumstances. A message sent to the first SIM card will cause the car to start hooting and flashing lights while mobile. You will be notified via the system the moment the vehicle stops and the ignition is switched off, in which case the vehicle is immediately immobilised, allowing for it to be tracked down via the SIM card.”

“A message to the second SIM card will instruct the engine to cut out immediately. It also provides for a panic button, and a simultaneous message will also be sent to 10 numbers in your address book, notifying them of the hijack within five seconds.”

“If your cellphone is stolen with the car, the system allows for multiple cellphones to call it and in case of a break in network, a secret bypass switch is built into the car. And should anyone try tamper with the system, it will also disable the engine.”

The area of tech innovation certainly isn’t just reserved for the young guns, and we look forward to seeing this important gadget on the market. Keep an eye on Smartcom’s blog for the latest about this nifty device once it has been released for sale.

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