When the winners of the prestigious Edison Awards for inventors are announced this month, the three employees of Bradenton-based HeistProof will be crossing their fingers. That’s because HeistProof is a finalist in the transportation safety category along with heavyweights Nissan and OnStar.
President Charles Bader says that even though his four-year-old company is small, the idea is big enough to compete with the industry giants. That idea is a card, about the size of a hotel room key, which fleet companies can use to control access to vehicles and heavy machinery. A small device that also tracks speed and location recognizes the card and powers on the vehicle electronically, eliminating the need for a key. If a card is lost or stolen, it can be immediately deactivated and replaced. “The key was invented in the 13th century,” says Bader, “and it hasn’t changed since then. Electronics is a logical transition.”
Bader hopes the Edison Awards exposure—even without a first-place finish—will open doors for new consumer applications of the technology, like integrating access to your house, office and car. Bader says the technology could eventually apply to hotel reservations, and even to rental cars; the rental company would add access to the car when you sign up and remove access once the car is returned, eliminating pesky lines. Bader hopes HeistProof will eventually be able to sell the patented technology to a larger company.