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WMG support unlocks potential for reducing car theft

-- Success Story --

WMG support unlocks potential for reducing car theft

WMG developed a prototype device that demonstrated that vehicle ignition can be disabled for Midlands business, Scanstop.

Background

Car theft rates in England and Wales are on the rise, with over 106,000 vehicles stolen in 2018 – an eight-year high. Experts are linking the rise to the use of increasingly sophisticated technology, including ignition key cloning and relay scams. This problem is set to get worse, as new developments such as keyless entry become more common on new cars.

Challenge

Mark Neath, Founder of Scanstop, is a serial inventor and perpetual innovator. Seeing a gap in the market, he formulated an idea for a device that could tackle the issue of ignition key cloning. The device would disable the vehicle electronics via an app, preventing the car from being accessed by a cloned key.

“I enjoy solving problems, I’ve always done it,” says Mark. “When I got the idea for this device, all the research I did suggested that the market is potentially huge, but I didn’t have the knowledge of how to develop it into a working prototype.”

Although Mark had experience in the automotive sector, he didn’t have in-depth knowledge of vehicle electronics or Bluetooth design, so he turned to WMG’s SME Group for help.

Solution

Working closely with Mark, our team developed a prototype device that demonstrated that vehicle ignition can be disabled. The main circuit board housed a Bluetooth device controlled by an app, which activated a relay that could disable the ignition system fuse.

Dr Dave Norman, Technology Transfer Engineer in the WMG SME Group, says: “This was the first project where we’ve used Bluetooth in the design, so it was new to us, as well as to Mark. Together, we explored development tools and kits to understand how the Bluetooth could be integrated into the device and demonstrate its effectiveness.”

Impact

The use of Bluetooth to disable vehicle electronics is completely new to this sector. The prototype represents a unique product on the market and Mark hopes to licence the design to vehicle manufacturers in the future.

Ultimately, he hopes the biggest impact of this product will be on society: fewer car thefts and, thereby, lower insurance premiums for vehicle users.

The design is being finalised as we speak, and the work done with WMG has enabled Mark to seek further investment and funding in order to get the device ready for manufacture, he hopes by early 2021.

Meanwhile, he has already turned his mind to solving another of the world’s problems, and is currently working on an app to help track and trace cases of COVID-19 in the community.

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