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Iota GPS Tracker: What Happened?

Last Updated on August 20, 2022 2 Comments

The Iota tracker was the smallest and lightest, real time GPS tracking device ever produced, meaning it was easy to conceal and therefore a great option as a discreet tracker for stolen bicycles.

iota tracker under a bike seat

The Iota Tracker was small enough to conceal on a bike

However, unfortunately Iotera the company that made the tracker went out of business and the Iota is no longer available.

It was a great idea though!

It wasn’t specifically aimed at bicycles (it could be used on cars, pets and even kids too!). But the tiny size of the device (43 x 22 x 11mm), made it particularly attractive to cyclists who wanted something light and easy to hide on their bikes.

It featured an exceptionally long battery life (up to 4 months), which also made it attractive to cyclists who wouldn’t want (or even be able) to charge it very often if it was hidden somewhere relatively inaccessible on their bike.

And don’t forget: if your bike is stolen, you want to be sure the battery is going to keep working for the duration of the time you’re trying to track it down! With other GPS trackers, you only get a small window of opportunity here. With the Iota, you would get much longer.

The special ingredient in the Iota tracker system was the Iota Home Base. The Home Base was a much larger device that you would attach to the window of your home.

iota tracker and home base

The Home Base with the Iota Tracker

The Home Base communicated both with your tracker and the Iota servers (via your home WiFi). And you connect your phone app or computer to the servers to track your bike.

The best bit was: the tracker and the home base could communicate over a distance of up to 4 miles!

So, as long has your stolen bike was within 4 miles of your home you’d be able to track it’s location through your home base. Now you might be thinking (with some justification) that a thief is unlikely to hang around that close to your home once they’ve got your bike.

In fact they’re probably going to get as far a way as possible, as fast as possible! So what good is the 4 mile tracking radius?

Well, the Iota Home Base didn’t just communicate with your Iota tracker, it could also communicate with every other Iota device in a 4 mile range. Which means just a few Home Bases could provide coverage for a whole city.

The estimation was that you’d only need 10 bases to cover the all of San Francisco for example.

And because the Iota tracker didn’t use mobile phone GPS networks (it used RF frequencies and the community network instead), there was no monthly fee to pay! So once you had paid for the device, there were no further costs.

The tracker was waterproof so you didn't have to worry about bad weather wrecking the reception or damaging the device while you and your bike were out in a deluge.

iota tracker app

It was accessed through a phone app

You could set up geo-fencing so that you got alerts if your bike moved out of certain area. Plus it had a motion detector sensor so it could warn you in advance if your bike was being tampered with.

So, it was small enough to hide on your bike, it had a battery that didn’t need charging for months on end, a (potentially) huge tracking range, it was waterproof, and it could alert you before your bike was actually stolen.

All this, and there were no monthly costs! What’s not to love?

Bearing in mind there was actually so much to love about the Iota, a better question might be what went wrong? It’s not entirely clear but in 2018 Iotera stopped supporting the Iota tracker, and that was the end of that.

Maybe the take up of the device wasn’t fast enough? Maybe they ran out of money Who knows.

What’s for certain is there hasn’t been anything else like it since. And the best way to protect your bike remains a secure bike lock that will prevent from being stolen in the first place!

About the author 

Carl Ellis

I've had bikes stolen in London, New York and Barcelona. Yep, I was a serial, international, bike theft victim. In 2015 I decided to stop the rot. And not a single bike's been stolen since! Brakes, yes. Bells, yes. But they're another story. Everything I learn, I document on this website. More about my story. Contact me. LinkedIn.

  • Looks like it was from a firm called Iotera in San Fran and it was acquired by Ring which in turn was acquired by Amazon and looks like they have rolled the tech into their sidewalk network in the US – not coming to UK

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