Car alarms are almost useless

I was walking in the parking lot at work and a car alarm went off.  The car was about 50 feet away.  I could see someone with the door open, leaning into the driver’s side.  I looked around me and saw about 6 other people.  Each one walking nonchalantly towards the building.  Not one of them looked back to the car blaring its siren.  Theft? Who knows.

Car alarms are generally ignored by everyone.  We assume it is “user error” and the person in the car is the owner of the vehicle.

The only case that it may be useful is when it is in the driveway, late at night.  A few weeks ago, a car alarm was set off near our house in the middle of the night.  We woke up and glanced out the window, specifically to make sure it wasn’t OUR car.  Once, we knew it was someone else’s car, we went back to sleep.  We were slightly annoyed by the loud sound.

This leads me to a conclusion that car alarms are almost completely useless.  HOWEVER, I have an idea to make them MUCH better.  Set the alarm to be “quiet” and send a signal to the owners smart phone.  It would make noise on the phone thus alerting the owner without bothering everyone else.  The car itself would have a quieter alarm to let the intruder know that is happening, but not noisy enough to wake the neighbors.

This change in behavior would reduce noise pollution and increase awareness by the one person who truly cares if their alarm is going off.  Cars have incredible momentum in design.  It will take a long time for this kind of innovation.  Still, as a designer, I keep designing.

2 Replies to “Car alarms are almost useless”

  1. Viper (Directed Electronics) makes car alarms that do this. They have for years. I used to own a model that used an RF antenna and had a range of 1 mile. It was AWESOME and stopped me from having my car towed twice, and also allowed me to catch the person that hit my car in a parking lot.

    A simple Google query will turn up dozens of these products.

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