#ZimStartup: One on One with HIT’s Laptop Retriever

With Zimbabwe’s economic crunch, losing gadgets is very painful. Almost every person in Zimbabwe has been robbed their phones, laptops, cars, handbags, satchels to mention but a few. Cops are doing what they can to catch the perpetrators but with stunted success.

Concerned with this thievery, a Harare Institute of Technology Innocent Mafusire invented what he calls ‘Embedded Laptop Tracker devices with GPS Locator and Anti temper facility’. He participated at the National Engineering Students Awards Competition (NESAC) preliminaries held at the institution last week. To students at colleges especially those doing their dissertations and theses, it hurts the most losing all your information which you would have researched. This gadget comes in handy for such students.

“Losing a laptop is very painful. Everyone needs the power to control, monitor and locate their devices at ease. It is not the laptop that matters. Data is the diamond inside the box. Insurance does not guarantee recovery, at least backing up on cloud helps at a cost,” says Mafusire. “I had many sad encounters when my friends’ laptops were stolen and never recovered. Infact left with no option and hope to trace their gadget. I searched on internet and discovered that this could be the first of its kind. A hardware device that can well fit inside a laptop.”

While most applications for device recovery are flawed, going the hardware route could be the last resort to retrieve the stolen gadget.

Embedded Laptop Tracker Device Up close

The pint sized inventor created the device using GPS, GSM and Atmel Controller.

“It was from GSM, GPS, and Atmel Controller. the device utilizes SMS facilities to give the owner power to control, monitor and locate the laptop,” said Mafusire.

The device, Mafusire said, uses geo-fencing a virtual geographic boundary, defined by GPS or RFID technology, that enables software to trigger a response when a mobile device enters or leaves a particular area.

“Users can set desired geo-fence radii using Sms. Anti-temper switch was implemented to protect unauthorized reparations or temper with laptop covers. The device was embedded inside LG6 laptop but operating independently to track even when laptop is off. It only sends report when the device goes out of set geo-fence or anti-temper switch had been played with,” notes the inventor.

Using geo-fence technology, the device notifies the device’s owner when it goes out of range.

“only sends report when the device goes out of set geo-fence or anti-temper switch had been played with. An application was designed that utilizes the location history to create a visible path on Google earth for visual tracking,” adds Mafusire.

Mafusire added that making the tracking device did not cost him that much. “Altogether, the cost of the product was below $50. So I consider it low cost.”

Mafusire’s does not only track laptops, it’s a multi tracker.

“The product goes deeper than just serving in laptop tracking. Cars, bags, kids and other valuables can still get the same service from this version,” he said.

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