Better Laptop Theft Prevention

I spend a lot of time a lot of time in coffee shops, and one of the things that always frustrates me is having to either pack up my laptop to go to the washroom or get a coffee, or pull out the extensive laptop locking strap and feal with the worries of someone tripping over the cable (sending my laptop crashing to the floor).

So I propose a different type of theft-prevention device. The concept is rather than a lock and cable, let’s use a loud, obnoxious alarm. Here are the ingredients necessary:

  • Accelerometer ($2.38)
  • < 256 USB Memory Stick ($5)
  • Battery
  • Speaker
  • A bit of hardware and software development

Mix the dry ingredients together, beat on medium and bake for 30 mins at 350 degrees, and you have a USB-powered alarm, that you can plug into your laptop, and walk away. If anyone removes the key or moves your laptop, the alarm is triggered. To work with the device, an auto-run app is loaded that gives you a login to use to disable the key, and the app can be configured to perhaps also lock-down the laptop in the event that either the key is removed or the laptop is moved without authorization.

I’d make this as a key, rather than as an internal card and application because by having it visibly displayed, it also acts as a deterrent to the theft attempt (like the sticker security firms put on your house).

 If someone makes this, I promise to buy two and to tell all my friends about it 😉


VP HCM Products at NetSuite and Founder of TribeHR and Lewis Media. Waterloo Region Enthusiast and active volunteer.


  • There needs to be a request line for engineering 4th year projects at UW. This seems well with in their capabilities and it’s a good idea.

  • Simon – I’ve seen software apps for ThinkBooks that do the same thing, they rely on the accelerometer used in the Hard Drives. It’s cool stuff, but it doesn’t make it obvious to the possible thief that there is an alarm mechanism. Ideally, I don’t want anyone to touch it at all, because if the alarm goes off they may drop it.

    Dave – good point – I’ll send this over to some students I know, perhaps they’d run with it!

  • John: Recover tools like that are great – but they don’t really help much in the way of prevention, which is really what I was going for with the post. Thaks for the link though!

  • This idea just occured to me this evening and was tempted to see if there were any opportunites for IP and dev.

    Looks like we went through the same trail, you,a few months before.

    Caveo had this concept with PCMCIA cards back in 2000.

    For those care, a couple of patent nos.

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