Firm’s car monitor made to deter thefts - East Valley Tribune: Business

Firm’s car monitor made to deter thefts

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Posted: Sunday, December 16, 2007 8:22 pm | Updated: 7:38 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Your favorite auto repairman is about to be replaced by an electronic robot. Well, maybe not completely replaced. And it won’t be a life-sized Star Wars R2-D2, either.

But functions such as reading tire pressure, engine diagnosis or testing emissions will soon be carried out by a new electronic device made and distributed by a Tempe company, Inilex Corp.

The device, called a Kepler Advantage, will also allow vehicle owners to read such things as mileage and oil levels and also control speed, door and trunk locks and a variety of other things — from a distance.

The Kepler Advantage is the size of a deck of playing cards and is installed inside the vehicle where it can’t be seen. It’s connected with the vehicle’s computer system.

The tracking and controlling is read and carried out on a computer, cell phone, personal digital assistant or a land-line telephone.

Owners can sit blocks or hundreds of miles away in front of a computer, hold a cell phone or land-line phone, and, with a flick of a finger, read and control their vehicles.

One of its key features is protection against theft.

“Phoenix ranks fourth in the nation for auto theft,” said Scott Ferguson, 41, CEO of Inilex, a telemetry company at 125 W. Gemini Drive, Tempe. “The Kepler Advantage will track and follow a vehicle as it’s being stolen. It can also disable the vehicle if necessary.”

The vehicle owner can relay real-time information such as speed and location to police, who recognize the information as a “crime in progress.” This is a higher priority for police to respond than simply reporting a vehicle theft, which police consider a “crime committed,” Ferguson said.

By spring, the Kepler Advantage will join two other similar but less electronically sophisticated Inilex devices already on the market, the Kepler and the Kepler Plus. They are distributed and sold at car dealers in Arizona and in 13 other states, he said.

“Besides preventing and helping police catch an auto thief, the devices can help or keep track of, for example, teenage and elderly drivers,” said Ferguson, a Mesa native who began his career as a residential and commercial electrician.

“By setting up a geofence, for instance, you can tell if a teenager is driving to an area their parents don’t want them to enter,” he said. “They can also sit home and see if their teenagers are driving faster than the speed limit.”

A geofence is an electronically created circle around either a small or large area that, when broken by a moving vehicle, gives an alert on the owner’s computer, cell phone or telephone.

For elderly drivers who may get lost, the tracking system can not only locate the vehicle through its Global Positioning software but also provide the driver with instructions on how to get back home, said Ferguson.

Another feature in the newest device is its ability to control engine functions remotely.

“A person who is shopping in a mall, for example, and whose vehicle is parked outside either on a very hot or very cold day, can start his or her car from inside the mall and, by the time they reach their parked vehicle it will be either cooled by the air conditioner or heated and ready to drive,” he said.

Although prices vary depending on the distributor, basic price of the Kepler is $695, plus a $7.99 monthly service charge; the Kepler Plus costs $920 with a $9.99 charge and the yet-to-be distributed Kepler Advantage $1,279 with a $14.99 charge.

Ferguson, a Westwood High School graduate who attended Mesa Community College, opened the 4,000-square-foot Inilex office eight months ago. The company was founded in 2003 in Chandler, then relocated to Tempe. His company has manufacturing plants in Malaysia and Slovakia, where the Kepler products are assembled.

Kepler products

The Kepler: Provides basic services such as finding and tracking a vehicle.

The Kepler Plus: Allows more functions with tracking, start and stop reporting, speed reporting and creation of multiple geofencing.

The Kepler Advantage: Allows a person to control a host of vehicle functions, including status and diagnostic reports, or it can send commands to control various devices on the vehicle such as locking and unlocking, starting and stopping the engine and disabling the vehicle.

Source: Inilex Corp.

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