Case Study | Corratec e-bike tracking supported by Apple Find My network
Even in the beer garden, a glance at the smartphone tells the pausing mountain biker that the high-quality bike is still in the same place where he parked it. The more expensive the bike, the more reassuring it is to know that you can track it at any time, especially when it is out of sight. IKO Sportartikel Handels GmbH, a southern German bike manufacturer with worldwide distribution known for its premium brand corratec, makes it easy for customers to quickly find their bike via an integrated module. Owners locate the lost object via the Apple Find My network. In order for this innovative tracking to be used in almost all corratec e-bikes, the expertise of KATHREIN Solutions was needed. A project as sporty as a mountain bike race.
Since both the energy consumption of conventional tracking solutions in the market and the ongoing costs of GPS via eSIM were quite high, the sports equipment manufacturer IKO sought a completely different approach. The goal was to differentiate itself from the competition with an alternative solution and make the tracking module more efficient and cost-effective for end customers. Usability for users in locating the “object” also played an important role. Therefore, only a solution through a smartphone app was considered to provide customers with the highest level of intuitive comfort.
Integration into the Apple Find My network
As there was already a device tracking app with significant user acceptance in the market, IKO decided to use the Apple Find My app. Originally developed to keep various Apple devices (even offline) always visible, locating the bikes through the same application promised high customer benefits. For the bike manufacturer IKO, it was strategically important that Apple could offer end customers bike localization within the global Apple Find My network.
From idea to market-ready c-Finder
In close coordination, an interdisciplinary team consisting of IKO and KATHREIN specialists developed a prototype within a few months after the initial idea generation and concept phase. Ultimately, the management intended to introduce the solution under the name „c-Finder“ in the first e-bike models for 2024. Prior to the c-Finder‘s launch, development prototypes were extensively tested in various corratec models. Additionally, measurements were conducted in KATHREIN‘s in-house test laboratory.
The Find My-enabled e-bike tracker (transponder) is fully integrated into the engine cover area of the bike and is powered by the e-bike‘s battery through the regular charging process. Consequently, it is usable for the end customer throughout the entire lifecycle of the bicycle. Furthermore, the tracker also has its own battery that ensures operation without recharging for up to approximately one year.
The Apple Find My network – made up of over a billion Apple devices – provides an easy, secure way to locate compatible
personal items using the Find My app on iPhone, iPad, Mac, or using the Find Items app on Apple Watch. The Find My network is anonymous and uses advanced encryption, meaning that no one else – not even Apple, IKO Sportartikel Handels GmbH/corratec, Kathrein Solutions, or the motor/ bicycle manufacturers – can view the location of the items. The Find My network accessory program enables third-party companies to build finding capabilities into their products, like the c-Finder, letting users access Apple’s Find My app to locate and keep track of important items, even when they’renot nearby.
“The decision to collaborate with KATHREIN was made based on the historical
connection between both companies and the knowledge of KATHREIN´s
long-standing expertise in the development of antennas and electronics.“
- Jochen Vogt, COO, Managing Director of
IKO Sportartikel Handels GmbH
For the project, KATHREIN developed and designed a special antenna that – in accordance with Apple’s specifications – also works in the metallic bicycle frame with maximum detection range and communicates securely with the Apple Find My app. The newly developed antenna ensures symmetrical reception performance. The KATHREIN development team thus realized the
successful interaction between antenna, electronics and the mechanics in the bicycle frame after thorough testing.
For corratec, KATHREIN handled the technical communication and all coordination with the team at Apple to meet their specifications, such as mechanical accessibility of the tracker, functions for pairing and unpairing, and firmware updates. Extreme outdoor temperatures as well as strong vibrations placed high demands on the tracker: it must be waterproof and vibration resistant. Thus, the IP55 class was set as the standard.
Benefits for retailers and end customers
With the c-Finder, the corratec brand offers its e-bike customers the security of being able to find their bike again if it is lost. Retailers are provided with yet another quality feature as a sales argument: the worldwide tracking of their own bike through the Apple Find My network. And true to the corratec motto „We are young, wild and free“, the end customer can enjoy his bike without worries.
- Newly developed transponder antenna
adapted to the bicycle frame
- Locating owner’s bike, when near and far
- Uses the Apple Find My network
- No own server architecture necessary
- Cost-optimized solution with BLE technology
- Smart functions via OTA (Over the Air) updates
- Direct power supply via battery of the e-bike
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Case Study (November 2023 | en)