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Motorcycle airbag vest will stop working if you miss a payment (vice.com)
179 points by elliekelly 37 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 238 comments



I'm pretty sure this is illegal at least in Germany. Also:

> at some point, if a person stops paying for a service, that service has to be suspended

What the fuck is the "service" here?

If the whole point of IoT was at the end that you can now declare "not actively making things worse" a service and have a working business model, I think we can now officially declare this trend a net negative on living quality.


"I think we can now officially declare this trend a net negative on living quality."

+1


It's not like IoT was destined for anything else as long as businesses are allowed (nay, rewarded) to pull that kind of shit.


> nay, rewarded

Really? I see a low hanging fruit opportunity to get rich: manufacture and sell the same motorcycle vest and sell it at an upfront cost equal to some approximate amortization of monthly payments over some average LTV.

As a motorcycle rider, I currently have like 10+ different options for motorcycle jackets.


Also as a motorcycle rider, the whole notion of life-saving protection and safety being a "service" suggests that the thing is too complicated to work 100% of the time, with no fail-safe option, and therefore cannot be trusted at any cost. Protective devices need 100% uptime.


> Protective devices need 100% uptime.

The manual for the same companies skiing airbag points out that if the GPS drops out, the airbag is disabled. [0] That should pretty clearly indicate how well they take safety.

[0] https://www.inemotion.com/myinemotion/documents/ski/2017.use... (Page 16)


How can they ever justify relying on a GPS? My watch reminds me every 20 minutes of a walk that it lost GPS.


How can any designer of a safety product justify it having any kind of software shutoff? Safety products must _failsafe_, especially in unexpected situations. This is just failing hard.


Why would GPS not be reliable while skiing?


GPS has service interruptions. Planned and otherwise.

GPS jammers may be illegal, but they exist, which means that they can be encountered.

Wet leaves on trees have been known to degrade GPS signals. Cross-country skiing exists, and may proceed through forests that are... Wet.

GPS connectivity can be impacted when switching from one satellite to another.

Safety equipment _must_ have a _failsafe_, not depend on the assumptions of the software. At no point in time is it reasonable for it to depend on something external to itself for whether it works or not.


This is giving me all kinds of horrible ideas for the dystopian screenplay I’ve just been inspired to write. Awful.


I can't wait for them to offer "low latency impact protection".


Agreed, it doesn't seem like this would even need to be a "service", at least in the sense that the core functionality of "inflating" can entirely be serviced offline/locally on the jacket.

There's so much wrong with the implementation here, and it looks like a bright flashing opportunity for someone to provide a simpler/saner/cheaper alternative and make a quick buck.


If instead of disabling the airbag, they simply repossessed the whole jacket, nobody would give a rat's ass. That's called a rental and it's a legitimate business model (though not one that I'd ever take for lifesaving equipment).

Instead, they intentionally added failure modes to their equipment - Making it worse even for customers that bought it up front, because now that code is hanging out and may be accidentally activated.


Or purposefully.


It looks like they got the marketing badly wrong, because we should be talking about how clever the bag is etc, but instead we don't give a monkey's. Gah. MotoGP has mandatory airbag suits, with accelerometers and gyros. Racing is obviously different, there's no cars and trucks to run you over, but top speeds are completely insane, so the tech might well translate over to the road.


It appears their bet was that by having the upfront cost be discounted and making the money back in "service" payments, they increase access to those that might otherwise not be comfortable footing the high upfront cost. The product isn't a motorcycle jacket, it's a financial instrument with life-and-death usury rates. In some sense, it's probably impossible to market a product like this well.


> it's probably impossible to market a product like this well.

At the right price, with 100% uptime, motorcycle airbags would be a monster hit product. I say that with confidence because as a motorcycle rider who is aware of the stats which tell me we risk death and serious injury 8X more than car drivers.

I want a motorcycle airbag - at the right price and conditions.

Who doesn't?

And why don't they exist?

What would be the cost to manufacture them at the rate of 500 million a year? That's the global market potential.

p.s. Do motorcycle airbags actually work to significantly prevent injury and death? If the answer is that they aren't particularly efficacious anyway, even when ideally implemented, I can understand why they scarcely exist in the market.


> What would be the cost to manufacture them at the rate of 500 million a year? That's the global market potential.

Completely agreed. The fact that there's one bad product on the market doesn't mean that one can conclude that our system rewards bad products, per the GGP comment.

> p.s. Do motorcycle airbags actually work to significantly prevent injury and death? If the answer is that they aren't particularly efficacious anyway, even when ideally implemented, I can understand why they scarcely exist in the market.

Probably not! I think time will tell.


Exactly.


> Really? I see a low hanging fruit opportunity to get rich: manufacture and sell the same motorcycle vest and sell it at an upfront cost equal to some approximate amortization of monthly payments over some average LTV.

The same company sells the same vest for twice the price without the subscription.

However, that doesn't help the people who bought a vest that locks them out of necessary safety features, nor does it help the rest of the market when a business poisons the well like this.


The SaaS of the future; Safety as a Service


The service is that they get an $800 vest for $400 + $12/mo. Providing a subsidized device when the full retail prices may otherwise dissuade non-frequent motorists doesn't seem evil to me. Some people only ride a 2-3 months a year with ideal weather. So providing this service lets them use the device for 10+ years before they finally catch up with the cost of buying it outright at year 0.


If the lower upfront cost is the only thing you want then there's no need for a subscription. Just have a financing option like businesses have been doing for decades. And if the person stops paying send it to sent recovery. It's a solved problem for a very long time.

The only reason why you would want a subscription is to keep charging people even after they have paid the full price and interests, which is a super annoying and bad policy to have in the first place.


You can do a buyout after 3 years for $99. So the maximum cost someone might need to pay is $(400+36*12+99) = $931, or $131 over the outright purchase option.


This is just a financing option, they even call it a "lease plan" on the web page. The unusual and positive benefit here is it doesn't go to recovery, you get to keep it and just pick up and continue your payments later as if nothing happened. I wish all my financing plans offered that option!

* I'm totally and utterly baffled by all the downvoting. It seems like many people did not check out the product's web page and are left with Vice's misleading interpretation.

Here's the description I'm talking about, right from the product page: https://klimsitecontent.s3.amazonaws.com/contentblocks/2021%...

It says "Membership: Lease or Buy (No Subscription!)"

Maybe they goofed by using the word "service" in the description, but this is just a financing plan. And it's not some kind of crazy safety issue where they shut it off while you ride, they appear to have designed it to prevent that.

And it is, in fact, more lenient than my mortgage, my car payments, or my credit cards. I don't get to pause or cancel any of those without pretty severe repercussions.


If it was financing, lack of payment would just use collections like every other financial product. It’s a solved problem, your problem is with the bank and not the product manufacturer. They are acting like a lender and insurer (for themselves) at the same time.

It’a a strange pay-for-non-existent-service scheme designed to artificially reduce MSRP, while using fear to reduce their risk. On a personal safety device. It’s disgusting.


> It is not financing if you have to continue payments after covering the full cost.

You don't have to continue payments, they offer a buyout plan for $99 after three years. (They also offer the buyout up front plan.)

BTW, jeez, I realize I seriously sound like an ad for the company just because I'm trying to help explain the flood of misinformation in this comment section. I ride motorcycles, but I have no affiliation, and I like the idea of an airbag vest and I like the idea of being more easily able to afford to try safety gear... even if it's more expensive in the long run. (Like everyone, I generally dislike rent, subscriptions, and financing plans, but I do have to acknowledge the utility.)

> It’a a strange pay-for-non-existent-service scheme designed to artificially reduce MSRP but increase lifetime value.

That seems accurate, except that it's not at all strange, it's utterly commonplace. Like millions and millions of people, I have a mortgage and a car payment and a credit card. Most of the money I spend would be reduced if I were to pay up-front.

> It’s disgusting

I'm very confused about this part, I don't understand why that feeling is so strong in this thread. KLIM's financing plan is better than most, just be open to reconsidering your idea here. You can cancel without notice, and you get to keep the vest. You can pick up where you left off and continue paying later. You can pay only in the summer when you're riding. Those consumer friendly options aren't available on any mortgage or car plan or credit card anywhere.


> Like millions and millions of people, I have a mortgage and a car payment and a credit card

That’s not the strange part. Volkswagen cannot deactivate your car if you stop paying - it’s the banks problem. Same with your house. There are legal mechanisms to kick you out or recover property, but none of them involve a subscription and remote deactivation. Imagine your front door stops opening if you miss a payment.


> Volkswagen cannot deactivate your car if you stop paying

Yes they can, they will come boot it or tow it or remotely deactivate it, if you finance from them instead of the bank and stop paying. And they won't give it back, and you can't decide to pay later.

There absolutely are multiple car brands on the market that can be remotely deactivated: "A Quebec teenager's car was remotely deactivated by a dealership after he refused to pay to remove a GPS tracking device" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8Enmspjbjo

"How auto lenders can disable your car if you miss payment" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6LU20sAn9c

This vest thing was spun as a subscription model dystopia, but that's not really what it is. This is really an actually very consumer friendly financing plan, it was just marketed badly and then framed as FUD by Vice.

Think about it- this is a financing plan where you get to pause for the winter because you're not using it. Neither Volkswagen nor the bank offers that kind of flexibility.


The fact it has done before doesn’t make it good, or change the argument. You may think nothing of it, but most people don’t want this kind of invasive tracking and do find it dystopian. This specific case is much worse - in the worst interpretation possible, the threat of death or injury (deactivating the airbag) is being used as a motivator to lower default rates.

Financing is dealt with by a bank, the seller is fully paid and has no business messing with your property afterwards. It’s a better model for all parties involved, unless you think saving a few % is worth having your personal items tracked by the manufacturer forever. I don’t.


> the threat of death or injury (deactivating the airbag) is being used as a motivator to lower default rates.

Come on, man, that is unreasonably hyperbolic and simply not true. They do exactly the opposite of that and design the product and ensure the buyer that accidental injury/death is not possible unless they’re not paying and willfully ignoring payment notifications and willfully ignoring the power-on state of the vest. The financing model is that you can have the thing if you pay for it, like all other products including all other safety products in the world.

> Financing is dealt with by a bank

Aren’t most car and motorcycle financing plans executed at the dealership by the dealer? (Just looked it up, and yes, two thirds of new cars are dealer financed... also called “captive financing”) Maybe I should, but I’ve never actually gone to a bank first before buying a car.

> invasive tracking [...] personal items tracked

Looks like the goal posts have just moved pretty far. Sure, I’m worried about tracking too. This isn’t what we were talking about, and tracking doesn’t compromise safety. Tracking isn’t new and isn’t related to the financing model of this airbag vest, right? It feels like you’re rationalizing now.


> ensure the buyer that accidental injury/death is not possible unless they’re not paying

Exactly. You don’t seem to get it.

Is there a service being provided via this remote functionality? No. It’s only purpose is to “ensure” people are paying. It’s purely an insurance mechanism for their financing.


Yes, it’s a financing plan. Correct, it shuts off if you don’t pay. Not during your ride, but before you ride, when you try to turn it on. Can you die from it, is there any danger of misunderstanding? No, none whatsoever. Are they threatening danger if you don’t pay? No, they’re doing the opposite and making access to an expensive safety product more convenient and affordable.

We’re going in circles now so I guess you’re pretty convinced by Vice’s hyperbole that this cannot be anything other than terrible, despite the fact that it’s a way more lenient financing plan than anything else you’ve ever financed before...

It’s good for Vice and their profit margin that they can so easily and effectively stir up a bunch of malleable people to get mad about something that isn’t really true. It’s a shame that they shit on a real business with actual safety conscious engineers behind it. Hopefully this thread full of negative and unfounded speculation has no sway on their bottom line, and they figure out how to better market their financing plan so that people understand the benefits and it doesn’t get so quickly misinterpreted.


Why is it more lenient than other financing plans? That makes no sense. This could literally be a traditional lease with no cloud syncing bs involved, at a cheaper cost.

You’re accusing me of being manipulated but I have no horse in this race. You think this is a sexy idea for risk management in lending, I just find the idea abhorrent, that’s all. You’re falling into the modern polarization trap, we just don’t seem to share the same values re. privacy & property rights.

Not looking forward to the day my car airbag stops functioning because a collection agency is after me, or I’ve been targeted by the government, or they just decide to refuse service because I said something awful on Twitter. That’s our dystopian reality right now.


> Why is it more lenient than other financing plans?

It’s weird you would ask this, when I’ve explained it here in this thread like three times already. It’s almost as if you’re not listening...

It’s a financing plan with a pause option, a cancel option, and a resume option, all with no penalties. No other financing plans offer those kind of consumer-friendly options. You can try this vest for half price, and then not pay the other half, and still keep the vest without the airbag functionality.

You were manipulated, but it’s not really your fault, so don’t take it personally. Vice wrote the article and framed it as something it’s not. The only problem is it went one-sided and stayed that way, you haven’t been open to checking whether the conclusions you jumped to are actually true, which is what a bunch of people here did, assumed this was bad because Vice framed it that way, and doubled-down without bothering to research what it was.


Consumer friendly, yes. That’s funny.

Could you please? I barely read the article. My opinion is based on a strong dislike for this kind of remote kill switch. I made my argument several times but you simply ignore it, and go on to repeat why you think it’s fine and everybody would be fine with it if only this evil article hadn’t been published!

There is zero service being provided. It increases the cost and complexity of the device for the lender’s own and sole benefit. Who the fuck wants to pause their airbag subscription? I really can’t understand how you can see this as customer friendly, unless you work for them.

And that’s ok. You can take it or leave it, but don’t try to disqualify me because “I’ve been manipulated”. That’s incredibly dishonest and of course will be taken personally. I suggest you learn to disagree without resorting to personal attacks.


>I’ve never actually gone to a bank first before buying a car.

I don’t think you’re paying much attention to what you sign when buying a car, you don’t go to a bank, there’s a person at the dealership who sets the loan for you from different banks. There are buy-here pay-here which is financed by the dealership but that is usually for conditions that banks won’t accept like rebuilt title vehicles, heavily modified or too old.


"This is really an actually very consumer friendly"

This is morally bacrupt and tyranical


Except what if the company has an outage and their license servers fail to respond? Or if there is an issue with their auto payment and they don’t notice it get cancelled?


Then the vest won't turn on, and you'll know before you ride that it's not protecting you. It says that on the product page.


If I buy a car with airbags, I am buying the confidence that they are there to protect me. Indirectly I'm also buying the confidence to not need to check them before setting off.

In this instance, if I need to check the safety of my safety equipment before using it, that's a negative for me.

As a daily motorbike rider, I can definitively say that I will not be buying one of these because they have the capability to remotely disable the functionality. That's an absolute no-no for me.


I think that's fine to decide against purchase for that reason. All I'm saying is 1: you always have to check your safety equipment before using it, that's true with your motorcycle, and in this instance it's not some kind of crazy burden, it happens automatically as part of the device's functioning power-on, and it doesn't require you to do anything special that you wouldn't already have done. If you re-read your sentence about not wanting to check your safety before you ride, you might regret saying it that way, it doesn't sound very good. And 2: perhaps not your motorcycle, but your cars and phones and computers already have remote disable functionality.


I take your point, but maybe a more nuanced phrasing is that I don't want to check arduous parts of my safety equipment on every ride. For example, I might bend down and check that my brake pads are still OK before each ride, but I'm not going to unscrew the brake fluid reservoir to check for again or bleed the lines. I do accept that this airbag has a pretty straight-forward indicator that one would easily check before riding, and so it's fair enough to expect a user to check it each time.

However - no one can remotely disable my brakes over the air! So I can get to a position of not worrying about them much. In practice, I probably check the pads for wear every month or so. And that's good enough because I have an expectation that they're not going to change by themselves overnight.

With this airbag, the capability is there for someone to disable it without me noticing. I 100% agree they're not likely to do this intentionally. But it is under software control, as is the warning indicator, etc, etc. It's possible. And it's my life at stake.

Also, re #2 - my phones and computers aren't safety-critical, and no, my car does not have remote functionality. It's one reason I don't drive a car with over-the-air upgrade or CANBUS access functions. The safety benefits of more modern cars do not outweigh the added risks of turning them into internet-of-shit devices, for me.


So if you wake up ready to commute to work in the morning, and you see that your vest won't turn on because AWS had an outage, what are you supposed to do? Just not go to work, or drive without it?


Have you read the product page yet? It does advertise off-grid functionality. I don't know what it does when the servers go down, but the evidence I have appears to suggest they've thought about this, it is an adventure vest ffs, meaning it's expected to be offline at times, so the pure speculation and searching for a reason to continue believing they're wrong seems misplaced to me, fueled by an article that clearly misrepresented the situation.


Sure, but I think you are just adding risk by adding an additional way your safety equipment can fail. If you have a way for a non-payment to disable the vest, you have a way for a software bug to disable the equipment.

There should be no way in software to make it not work.


I can totally agree with the general ideas about reducing risk and failure modes.

But with or without a payment switch, this is an electronically controlled airbag. It’s designed to have a way for software to keep it from inflating at all times, just like your car’s airbag has. It has a heuristic algorithm that tries to anticipate a crash based on sensor inputs, and the fundamental operation of the thing is that software is going to decide whether to inflate. Like your car, its default mode of operation is don’t inflate. The software switch is nothing new, nothing out of the ordinary, and you’re already relying on software switches daily.

There’s no evidence or reason to believe the payment system adds any additional risk beyond the fact that all airbags are already electronically controlled. It is possible for the payment system to be isolated so that it won’t affect inflation during a ride, and they explicitly stated their intent to do exactly that. So there’s no reason to think that non-payment can lead to failure during a ride, and there is evidence to suggest otherwise.

All the pure speculation in this thread about payment affecting safety was stirred up by the Vice article suggesting it, despite the product specs.


"There’s no evidence or reason to believe the payment system adds any additional risk"

Thats not how safety critical analysis is done. YOU have to prove thats it's physically impossible for the system to fail.

We already had boeing kill 300 people with crappy software and sensors in a plane.


There's a difference between a black box without any user input that always does what you expect of it - and one with an on/off switch. Where the switch can be set via software - either the official one ... or some unofficial one.


That is true. I think the comment you replied to had already acknowledged that, but in case it wasn’t clear, yes of course there’s a difference. Does that difference contribute meaningfully to the conversation? Switches that can be set via software, for better or worse, are now the norm in vehicles, so why the concern about this vest? Software switches control ABS brakes, airbags, steering, and throttle in nearly all new cars sold today, and online features are mixed into many many brands. Whipping up incredulous concern about this completely optional motorcycle safety vest over software switches isn’t just speculation, it’s being willfully ignorant of today’s standard engineering practice.


Have you ever worked on vehicles? E.g. for Airbags, there's one single box whose whole purpose is to decide whether to pop the airbags or not. This box is separated from the rest of the car's systems and only puts out status messages via the CAN bus. And apart from cutting power to it, there's no way to disable this box - and thus the safety mechanism it provides. Also the software running there is verified by multiple people and certified to always do what it's supposed to do.

Same for the other safety features - there must be no way to disable them. Or take control of them from the outside. (Yes, there was a case where hackers were able to gain brake/steering control of a Jeep, but that's definitely not the norm.)

I think in the end it comes down to trust. Do you trust some startup from 2016 (In&Motion is the company behind the airbag module) to get the software 100% correct?


> Yes, there was a case where hackers were able to gain brake/steering control of a Jeep, but that’s definitely not the norm.

And that’s not because Jeep removed the remote control or the software switch, it’s because Jeep improved the network security. Now, there are a whole bunch more brands of cars that use the same remote access system Jeep is using. And there are a bunch of other systems in other car brands. How would you place a Tesla or other self-driving car into your black-box philosophy? The brakes and steering can run 100% of the time on software.

Are you sure KLIM’s airbag vest doesn’t have a CAN bus and a verification process?

I don’t trust Boeing or Toyota to get it right, so no I don’t trust a startup either. The point I’m making is not that I trust them, it’s that the vast majority of this comment section brought out pitchforks to rail against a straw man idea that Vice wrote about but does not match reality, and haven’t bothered to even read the product description that directly addresses things people here are speculating incorrectly about.


It's only an adventure vest if you pay the extra $8/mo...

( https://www.klim.com/Ai-1-Airbag-Vest-3046-000 down near the bottom)


The cost is irrelevant to my point, which was it was designed to support adventure modes, which I would guess comes with design constraints because adventuring means off road and off grid.


You will not wish that if you took advantage of an unexpected nice day in the off season, got all geared up (but didn't remember to re-up your lease), and then crashed and your protective device failed, leaving you crippled, and contemplating that for the remainder of your life

We could also celebrate the mafia-types who don't send debts to recovery, they just come by and break your knees if you don't pay -- hey, it's just a "you keep being able to walk as a service", and they never damage your credit score by sending it to collections!


> and then crashed and your protective device failed, leaving you crippled, and contemplating that for the remainder of your life

Where did you get the idea that you wouldn't know it wasn't working before you ride? The vest notifies you before you ride, it signals that it does not engage the protection... even if you happened to miss the payment, and the grace period, and ignore all the notifications along the way.

BTW, I am a very safety-conscious motorcycle rider, and I read both the article and KLIM's product page that the article links to. The fear that it will shut off and kill someone is the misleading impression that the Vice article left, but the product was specifically designed so that that can't happen.


It is also specifically designed to require an otherwise completely unnecessary link to a remote server, and need to rely on that. Sure, it should notify you, but there are a whole bunch of dependencies just for such a notification.

With this level of aggressively pathological design, I would not trust them to have considered every contingency and ensure a fail-safe in every failure mode, particularly since their primary failure mode is fail-unsafe - by design.

Try a different scenario, you need to go somewhere, your vest does notify you, but you need to go anyway, and that's your disaster. Yes, that is a bit more on you, like deciding to go anyway without your helmet which just got stolen, which is pretty stupid but can be necessary - but in this case, the theft is digital and enabled by design.

Sorry, this is rent-seeking at it's worst. I'm sure they'll find fools to subscribe, just as Zuckerberg found plenty of "dumb f*ks" to trust him with their data, but that does not make it right.

Good luck, and stay safe out there.


> this is rent-seeking at it's worst

It's a bit sad that their marketing and Vice and this thread of misinformation has convinced you of this. Because their financing terms are in fact more consumer friendly than the vast majority of financing plans out there, likely including all the monthly payments you're currently making. It's a missed opportunity that the marketing message got so lost here.


Sure, pay for whatever months you want is nice and friendly.

But

Specifically designing, building, & shipping a product with a deliberately most-dangerous failure mode (vs fail-safe) is sociopath-level pathology. The user, through a variety of readily conceivable of technical or user errors, could easily use the product, thinking they had protection (which demonstrably decreases risk-aversion), and end up with serious injury or death.

This could have been done much better. E.g., don't disable the protection, make it so it needs to be stored with the zipper locked, and require payment to unlock the zipper, so the user cannot even wear it. Even this is DOS, but at least as unambiguous as keeping a helmet locked in a case.


> deliberately most-dangerous failure mode (vs fail-safe) is sociopath-level pathology

Is that a clinical diagnosis? Are you aware that many car brands have multiple levels of software deactivation for every safety critical feature, onboard and remote? Are you saying that all vehicle makers are sociopaths, or that you’re unaware of today’s designs?

> The user, through a variety of readily conceivable of technical or user errors, could easily use the product, thinking they had protection

This is speculation based on FUD and willfully ignoring the process they described, and it seems unlikely to me.

> This could have been done much better

Yeah probably, especially the marketing.


>>...car brands have multiple levels of software deactivation for every safety critical feature, onboard and remote?

Can you provide some examples, particularly where the cars disable safety equipment for lack of payment? Cars/lenders are already heavily and rightly criticized for disabling cars from being driven at all for lack of payment because they could prevent someone from making a critical trip.

>> thinking they had protection >> This is speculation based on FUD No, any long chain of technological links, especially including wireless, and including users, is easily subject to many modes of failure. It is not particularly speculative at all.

>> could have done much better. >> marketing Marketing may have to do better, but management & engineering is the real location of the fault.

Marketing has an impossible job now, since Mgt & Eng have chosen to implement a fail-dangerous mode as their primary feature.

Mgt & Engineering need to implement it in a fail-safe way, e.g., so the device cannot be worn, even though it could require greater design effort and work. With an actual safe-mode lockout, marketing's job becomes possible, but even then, "X as a service" is still a rent-seeking biz model, which is kind of deplorable overall but may work for some people.


> Can you provide some examples, particularly where the cars disable safety equipment for lack of payment?

Sure, I did here already https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27058509

And it's generally pretty easy to find yourself, if you want https://www.google.com/search?q=cars+disabled+for+lack+of+pa...

> Cars/lenders are already heavily and rightly criticized

I'm sure you're right, but it still exists, and it's getting more common not less. Besides, the remote switch ability is there regardless of whether it's attached to payment. It's also being attached to cameras and GPS and auto-driving featuers, etc., etc. Your concern was about the safety of remote switches in general, right?, and those are incredibly common.

> "X as a service" is still a rent-seeking biz model, which is kind of deplorable overall but may work for some people.

You've already stated your opinion about this, and I don't appear to be making headway by pointing out that it's lowering the barrier to entry for some people, and that two different buyout options are available, and that they allow you to pause the rent at will.

So... I guess my question is do you finance anything at all? Do you have a car, or house, or rent, or credit card? If it's "deplorable", why participate? Don't you think the ability to pause payments at will sounds like a good thing? I do, and it doesn't sound all that rent-seeking to me that they're offing a buyout option, and a no-penalties cancel option where you get to keep the stuff.

> have chosen to implement a fail-dangerous mode as their primary feature.

I hear your point, and in the absence of any design information about this product, I agree with the general idea that attaching remote capability to safety equipment could be dangerous, whether or not it's common. That said, passing judgement on any given product requires seeking out and understanding of how the product was actually designed. A remote switch is not necessarily bad engineering. Cars aren't the only vehicles getting them, airplanes are too (and some people consider it a good thing, no possibility of hijacking.)

Stay curious friend!


> This is just a financing option

For $400? My whole non-IoT riding suit already cost $1200. My insurance costs $1200/year. Who is this financing option _for_, exactly?


People less rich than you? I don't know, but you can finance a $200 helmet too. https://www.revzilla.com/motorcycle/bell-mx-9-adventure-mips...


I have spotify plan that amex failures have cancelled twice in the last 10ish years. Emailing them to retry the charge works, I'm sure it's just random outages and it's never bothered me. But it's also never killed me before. That would be evil.


Per TFA they give you a 30day grace period if the card declines.


The problem is that, in this case, "Default Deny" can mean someone is dead.

And, I would go further. This kind of "Default Deny" means that this system simply does not comply with the standards and practices that give you legal shielding and are normally required for "safety equipment". It's going to have a whole host of "failure modes" that normally wouldn't be present because it has to "deny" usage under certain cases.

As such, they're going to lose a really large court case for very good reason.


> The problem is that, in this case, "Default Deny" can mean someone is dead.

That's not really accurate. Did you check out the product description or FAQ? https://www.klim.com/Ai-1-Airbag-Vest-3046-000 Default deny would mean the user doesn't ride, because the deny happens before you go, not during the ride.

Yes, if they were to shut off service after signaling it's okay to ride, then it would be an affront to safety standards, and they would lose in court. But... they're not shutting off service during the ride...


Can the microcontroller reboot? Oops, maybe you're not authorized anymore because the default stance is "deny" and you can't call home (otherwise you just block communication and you have a functional vest).

This isn't theoretical. A watchdog timer is standard protection against weird "shit happens", one-off things in safety equipment. That means you reboot when something goes wrong (cosmic rays, flaky battery connections, etc.).

DJs wouldn't use software that uses things like FlexLM because it might hang in the middle of their performance because it is "default deny". And that is nowhere near the level of importance as a safety jacket.


I have no idea if it has corner-case failure modes, it probably does, like all products including your car. However, the product page for the vest mentions it has adventure mode, which means the rider is expected to be out of range of cell service for periods of time, so it seems evident that they might have thought about microcontroller reboots, since the device is going to be powered on and off out of range anyway.

I don’t understand why there is a flood of pure speculation in this comment section assuming that the design must be worst-case and trash. There’s no reason to jump to that unfounded conclusion.


> I don’t understand why there is a flood of pure speculation in this comment section assuming that the design must be worst-case and trash.

The implementation is irrelevant because the fundamental idea is horribly broken.

"Default deny" and "safety equipment" are like oil and fire.

(If you really want to understand why this is stupid: Just go use some software with the FlexLM license manager and you will understand at a deep psychological level why this is a horrible idea.)


I see that you are very certain. Why are you so certain, when the reasons you’ve given are based on speculation? All license managers are default deny, that’s the purpose of licensing, I don’t see your point.

Maybe it would be better to propose a clear and workable alternative rather than re-stating your opinion of the thing you imagine this is. Do you have a suggestion for how to improve the vest or it’s financing plan, one that doesn’t damage their business model from their perspective and also improves safety?

> “Default deny” and “safety equipment” are like oil and fire.

I’m not sure it’s worth discussing this platitude, it might or might not be true, and it might or might not be relevant. The fact of the matter is that in this particular case, the default deny aspect of the vest’s system and the safety features were designed so they don’t intersect. You’re asserting that they do, but the documentation says otherwise. Why are you ignoring their statements on the matter? It makes the argument weaker. If you’re certain it’s a bad design, then show how it’s a bad design despite what they say, rather than forming reasons by willfully disregarding valid information.


Is there any safety equipment that leaves the manufacturer legally liable if the end user doesn't set up and activate the equipment properly? Is Honda responsible if my seatbelt doesn't work, because I didn't put it on?

It's not like this airbag is a passive, always-ready device. You can't even just put it on and expect it to work. You need to actually turn it on too, and have the batteries charged. And if you turn it on and it says "NOT ACTIVE" or something like that, would anyone believe that the airbag was going to work?


Honda would be liable if the passenger airbag doesn't go off because the "passenger sensor" failed.

The addition of the "passenger sensor" added extra failure modes that have to be managed and certified.

Now, car manufacturers did this because people are stupid and put their children in car seats on the passenger side and Honda doesn't want to kill children.

Nevertheless, you have to account for the failure modes and sign off on them. I can't imagine anyone with a PE signing off of this kind of fiasco. I'm sure you can find one somewhere if you pay enough money, but man ...


That's an instance where the product says it is working but it doesn't. Not where a product says it isn't working and it doesn't.


I'd understand your point IF you were renting the vest for a limited time. But you are actually buying a product for which if you don't pay the subscription won't work. So if they want to keep this line of business the vests should be rented, not sold.


Honestly, not surprising. Motorcycles are a time-limited recreational activity in many countries around the world, as 2 wheels become extremely dangerous on public roads when ice and snow are present. It seems like a decent idea on it's face to save money when you don't need it, but I would question why it needs any online capabilities at all. All of the processing needs to be done on the device, as we're talking about fractions of a second to decide if inflation is required in the event of a crash. Not enough time to ask an API if your subscription is valid.

KLIM made a mistake here and should have priced the device in such a way to support it for the life of the product. If that means you're buying into a 5 year life after purchase, so be it. Instead, they're purposefully selling a product that could be deadly under the guise of, "but you save money!". I expect the airbags in my car to work all the time. If I buy a safety feature, that safety feature should work 100% unless I explicitly disable it.

What's amazing is the world of motorcycles already has this concept in production. Most bikes with ABS have the option to disable it for offroad use. After disabling it, I then can ride around and do all the crazy stuff I want and turn it back on when I'm ready. Heck, some manufacturers even re-enable it automatically after the bike is shut off and started again.

Bad move by KLIM imo.


Worse, even if you agree, missing payments without noticing it is easy. You might get your life saver disabled even though you have plenty of money and are willing to pay and think you set everything up. For example, it works for a while, then you overdraw one of your accounts because a transfer is late (you still have plenty of money overall), the bank stops the payment from that account.

Even if they don't disable right away, add a few more delays. I had an address change once and they sent the notice for a missed payment to the old address of my business - so I only noticed it when the service was cut off. The bill also had been sent there so I never knew I had to pay.

Do you want to say "tough luck" to customers who rely on the protection and miss a payment only because of bad luck? Is even forgetfulness (so 100% "their own fault") worth a potential death sentence?

.

Note that the address change issue also once happened to me after I had already informed the other party of my new address. It was the IRS, they still sent their requests to my old address, months later, and then got a court order to get the money from my bank account without my knowledge or consent. I never knew they had wanted something from me, and I had given them the new address. So it can happen even if you do everything right.


> Not enough time to ask an API if your subscription is valid.

Common misconception. The subscription check is done when you turn the device on, not during a crash.

> KLIM made a mistake here and should have priced the device in such a way to support it for the life of the product. If that means you're buying into a 5 year life after purchase, so be it.

They offer that option. You can buy the vest in one lump sum with no subscription.


I start my bikes and cars inside a garage where there's limited RF signal due to no line of sight to towers. If this thing fails to initiate service correctly, the maker of this product will be in for a world of hurt after my heirs sue them into the ground for failing to deliver their service.

Air bag makers like Takata know the high cost of poorly designed airbags all too well. Inviting [b|m]illions in liability through a service model that requires a successful login before every use is nuts.

Login failure could also happen inside a parking garage w/o signal, or in a large city where RF shadows from tall buildings block signal, or in a woods that's too far from cellular towers to receive a signal, or it could fail on restart after the engine stalls on the road.

I wonder if the maker will choose not to sell their product in the US where personal injury attorneys are probably already licking their lips.

This service model may make sense on a racetrack, but not so much in the real world.


There's nothing to subscribe to, no actual service being provided at the operational level. It's a financing scheme similar to a leasing arrangement; the only internet check here is whether your payments are up to date.

Imagine a helmet that you paid for in installments, but that lost its structural integrity if you fell behind.


This makes the most sense. The remedy for non-payment should not be endangerment, it should be the well established route of civil suit and debt collections.


Or an alarm system that left your house open for the same reason.


Yes, it's a financing plan. Their web page says so plainly. Unlike your mortgage, if you fail to pay, you get to keep the vest and restart the payment plan. When you pay for a helmet in installments and stop paying, it's worse than losing structural integrity; a collector comes to take the helmet away and you have no helmet.


There’s a difference. If a collector comes and takes my helmet, I won’t get on a bike without it because I’m a stickler for keeping my brain inside my skull. If there is a bug anywhere between the global payment system and this product, I may not even know.


> If there is a bug anywhere between the global payment system and this product, I may not even know.

Why are you speculating about this and suggesting it will operate in a way that directly contradicts their documentation? It states clearly that the system has to be turned on and will reach "ride ready state". This means that you will know whether it's functioning before you ride, even if there is a bug in their payment system.


And what if there is a bug in their payment checking system and it incorrectly indicates that the vest is functional?

This idea is just not something that is possible to defend. It is a really bad all around. Not everything in life can or should be made into a subscription service or a financial instrument.

I think I know what the universe’s great filter is. It is that in any society eventually a biologist will lapse on his bio-safe subscription so that it, according to contract, releases the world ending pathogens into the air conditioning system.


I love your last paragraph - it's well written, makes a very strong point and manages to be very funny at the same time. Thanks friend - that's some great writing and thinking!! :)


Thanks for the kind words :)


> what if there is a bug in their payment checking system and it incorrectly indicates that the vest is functional?

Then you get a free day of airbag protection. The vest won't tell you it's functional and then stop working while you ride. The functionality and payment check happens before you ride, if you read their product description. https://www.klim.com/Ai-1-Airbag-Vest-3046-000

> This idea is just not something that is possible to defend.

I think you have the wrong idea about what it is. I am a motorcycle rider, I'm extremely safety conscious. I might buy this vest, because an airbag is good protection, and they're making this cost less to try out. Not sure if I would lease it or buy it outright, but I wouldn't hesitate to lease it over safety concerns, if buying wasn't an option for me.


> The vest won't tell you it's functional and then stop working while you ride. The functionality and payment check happens before you ride, if you read their product description. https://www.klim.com/Ai-1-Airbag-Vest-3046-000

Given it connects to an external server on the internet (even indirectly), it presumably has updatable firmware.

Are you confident enough this company understands secure boot chains well enough to prevent a rogue firmware being flashed? And that they have protected their Bluetooth stack (?) well enough to prevent a firmware being flashed that way?

It's likely (but impossible to tell without doing a teardown) that you could indicate the device is functional via firmware, while not being armed and ready to deploy, if the LED or indicator is on a separate GPIO.

If this was to happen in the supply chain (like used to happen with grey market mobile phone imports getting loaded with adware), that could become a real problem...


What you're bringing up now is a general engineering safety concern that applies to any product at all. You should be equally scared of your car's airbag and other safety systems. This is a straw man in this context, and has nothing to do with the payment plan. Because the designers are making a safety product, unless there is evidence otherwise, I would speculate/assume that they have thought about whether it's possible to indicate protection and then not provide it. But, no engineered product is 100% safe, I'm not under any misconceptions about that.


When you introduce the functionality to disable a traditional safety product, you have to think about the dependency chain and how you design that system to prevent issues. Vehicles with a switchable airbag tend to display a fairly prominent red light when the airbag disable switch is used. I'm pretty sure that on some vehicles I've had, it's hard-wired to light up when the switch is used to disable the airbag. You'd have to break the light to "override" that warning.

It is possible the makers of this product have done likewise, and the arming of their system is done with the same signal that's used to display a green light. But given the sheer complexity of it (Bluetooth, app Integration, server side checks), it seems likely this won't be the case - maybe the light is only momentary, in which case such hardware failsafes won't be in place.

Nonetheless, adding complexity to a safety critical product should be scrutinized and held to the level of engineering as any other safety critical product.

A safety critical product which will cease to function in its safety role without the ability to call home to a server seems to fail at some early hurdles of being engineered as a safety product, so I would respectfully disagree with your starting point that they've thought about this and engineered their lockout as a safety system (since it fails unsafe, rather than safe).


Sure, I completely agree with everything you said about engineering and safety in general. I don't understand the speculation on your part about it seeming likely to you that they're making obviously and absurdly bad safety critical design decisions just because it's complex and you haven't looked for or seen any evidence that they're not doing that.

I'm saying there is evidence they're considering this issue, because they wrote about it in the product page's FAQ. They at least intended to design the system so that lapses in the financing plan do not compromise safety in any way, and they wrote about that intention explicitly. That is evidence to indicate they've thought about it. All speculation otherwise is just FUD.


Because the safe thing is to not do something unnecessarily dangerous in the first place. You don't secure your core system by being very careful with your backdoor access -- you secure it by not introducing a backdoor in the first place.

A critical safety device should have absolutely no way to be disabled, intended or not, without severe intervention or total and complete failure of the device.

They've introduced greater potential for absolute disaster in their edge cases. And more likely than not, very little has to go wrong for a user to end up dead.

Also of note: why is the battery LED on the back of the suit? If the battery dies mid-route (or a bug disables the vest), there's no way to tell? They don't note any audio cues.


I agree about everything you said about safety design, but Vice and uninformed comments have guided you into being mad about this today, and it is not the safety issue you think it is. The article was spreading FUD with the idea that the subscription lapse could cause a fatal crash. The product was designed to prevent that. Yes, there are reasons to be careful with electronic control of safety critical systems, but despite that fact, we are completely surrounded by safety critical systems with electronic control. Every vehicle you own, use or ride in has them.


Electric controls are not the problem here; it's designing anti-failsafes into the component. AFAIK cars could be shut down remotely (which is bad, and fairly stupid), and warning systems are optional and conditional (e.g. pedestrian warning, emergency braking, etc) but the core safety systems (seatbelts, ABS, airbags, etc) follow the rule prescribed: It works, or it's been disabled by significant intervention, or it's totally and utterly failed. You don't play with uptime when it comes to this kind of device.

That is, they don't intentionally introduce a backdoor to disable the system. Or rather, they don't intentionally increase the risk surface of critical safety devices. The death star is not supposed to be your design inspiration.


It's not fair to frame it as an anti-failsafe, when it was designed to prevent shutting down after the ride starts. The core safety systems in modern cars that you cite can all be disabled electronically. (BTW, think a bit about a Tesla.) This really isn't a the good example of pro-safety critical design you think it is, cars have exactly the same "back doors" as this airbag vest at the engineering / electronic control level.


>This really isn't a the good example of pro-safety critical design you think it is, cars have exactly the same "back doors" as this airbag vest at the engineering / electronic control level.

You're going to have to back that up to convince me of that, because as I said, AFAIK that's the not the case (not that I know much on car safety mechanisms -- but I've yet to hear/see anything suggesting to the contrary beyond this statement).

>It's not fair to frame it as an anti-failsafe, when it was designed to prevent shutting down after the ride starts.

You know what; that did the trick. I'm convinced.

You're right, if they designed it as purely a boot-up flag (it turns on, or it turns off, but it's designed to be 100% up unconditionally once on) then it doesn't conflict with anything I've said. There's no additional risk being introduced that I can imagine from this setup -- beyond that inherit to the problem.

I still find the framing pretty dumb -- they should have just called it a rental -- but otherwise I'm fully convinced this is a non-issue.


Yeah, agreed, the marketing angle seems to be miscalculated.


Ok maybe they actually implemented this extremely poor idea correctly, but it is nevertheless an extremely supremely poor idea.

If this takes off, which I sure hope it never will but given our collective idiocy I’m not optimistic, how many years before someone implements the system incorrectly?

I’m an embedded systems guy. A computer chip can be useful in many circumstances. A safety vest, for this purpose, it is not providing any value to anyone except a slimy money person.


> it is nevertheless an extremely supremely poor idea

Can you elaborate on exactly what's wrong here, now that you know more about the implementation? Are you sure this isn't a case of getting the wrong impression about what it is because Vice said so? It's not a safety issue, the vest will notify whether it's working before the ride.

> A safety vest, for this purpose, it is not providing any value to anyone except a slimy money person.

The irony of your statement here is that KLIM is offering an expensive product for a half price down payment, and allowing the consumer to cancel it after trying it out without having to return the hardware or pay any penalties on the remainder. Or they can resume payments a year after lapsing. You don't find this kind of presumably money-losing proposition with any other financing plans I can think of.


You may be right, according to what you’ve said about it then it seems that maybe this company actually did design this thing properly.

What I’m having a visceral reaction to is the generally wasteful idea of a physical product being rendered useless via software is being applied to a safety critical product.

Like I said, even if these people got it right, it’s only a matter of time before someone doesn’t.


I choose not to trust documentation when a company shits all over everything we know about building reliable safety systems. To be blunt, if they're dumb enough to think this is a good idea, they're too dumb to make safety equipment. This is an awful idea and it's impossible to defend with any kind of integrity.


Your strong language and hyperbole isn't convincing me there's something wrong. What is the safety risk, exactly? Can you elaborate on specifically what is unreliable or why this is awful? The vest will clearly indicate the lack of protection before a ride, just like a car or computer or any reliable safety system. What is the alternative that this product should be doing that would make it safer?

Isn't there a much higher safety risk of using safety products as a user, and not reading or trusting the documentation?


In short, the safety issue is that a company that makes gloves and jackets decided to build a passive safety system with an on/off switch tied to payment networks. The alternative is obvious - get rid of the on/off switch and just sell the thing. Not everything in life should be reduced to a monthly subscription.


> Not everything in life should be reduced to a monthly subscription.

Hell, I am in complete agreement with that. I'm just as tired of rent-seeking subscriptions as everyone else.

They do just sell the thing, that is an option. They messed up their terminology and marketing message by calling it 'subscription' and 'service'. They should have stuck strictly to "lease plan", which some of their marketing does say. If everyone here had the exact same information but had never thought of this as a subscription, I'd bet all the pitchforks would still be tucked away in their sheds.


So if Klim’s security/build/release processes are imperfect, I’ll die??

I’m going to pass. This is fucking insane.


Kind of an interesting dilemma. Charge full price, only rich people can afford it, poor people die. Charge a subscription, poor person affords it for a while, bank account gets overdrafted, poor person dies. On the other hand, charge a subscription, poor person affords a safety feature they previously couldn't use, saves their life. Isn't that the more ethical option? If the full price is $800 then they're actually selling the vest to you at a 50% discount and hoping to recoup the costs through the subscription. You're getting a safety product for 50% off and you don't even have to pay back the other 50% if you don't think you'll need it. Hm.


>Isn't that the more ethical option?

No. As a civil engineer that routinely works with and designs safety-critcal systems, and understands the concept of "public trust" and personal liability as Engineer of Record, whoever designed this is an absolute psychopath.


Exactly. That's why "software engineering" will never have the equivalent of a PE. Terribly inconvenient to "move fast and break things" when you're obligated to give a shit about the collateral damage when something breaks.


This is not true at all. There are entire, large sections of the industry devoted to creating safety-critical software. These areas of the industry are well disciplined and highly regulated. This software is designed in such a way to make collateral damage impossible in all but the most exceptional scenarios. This popular silly web programming stuff is truly only the tip of the software engineering iceberg.


No, it's completely true. There are relatively tiny, quite niche sections of the industry devoted to creating safety-critical software in a systematic, engineered manner. I've been part of it. My company has more people writing Java/Cobol business apps than all of NASA has writing true high-reliability code. Even then, while folks writing mission critical code might be 'disciplined', there is no equivalent of the NSPE regulating what someone needs to know to do this, no universally agreed upon standards for what constitutes "safety-critical" or even consensus metrics for how to assess whether something is or not. There are literally hundreds of different guidelines for "how to engineer safe software", but no canonical guide. Even stuff like "can you use C to write software 'in such a way to make collateral damage impossible in all but the most exceptional scenarios'" is a matter of furious debate; some say yes, some say no.


Not just that, but in PE land, the Engineer of Record is PERSONALLY liable for what they stamp, and no corporation can really stand in the way and protect them from that liability.


The automotive industry has standards that govern the systematic development of safety-critical systems (hardware and software). The most significant is probably ISO 26262, which defines an “Automotive Safety Integrity Level” and methods for ensuring the safety and reliability of components at a given integrity level. There are also standards like MISRA C, which are basically defined code quality and software development guidelines to reduce bugs in critical software.


So...exactly my point? Each niche has it's own idea of what the standard is.


> whoever designed this is an absolute psychopath.

Yes, if the product were to refuse to protect you after you started riding, that would fit your description, and I would agree. I think it doesn't do that though.

From an engineering perspective, what are the safety risks here, exactly? Did you review the design spec or read the product page?

"3. If I suspend/pause my subscription and forget to reactivate it, will the vest still detect a crash and inflate?

"Answer: No, because in the first place you won’t be able to turn it on into ride-ready status before your ride. It will not “trick” you into thinking it’s active when it is not, because the LED indicators will warn you that it’s not active. If you ignore the LED indicators warning you that the airbag isn’t active, you can’t expect it to work when you’re not actively subscribed."

https://www.klim.com/Ai-1-Airbag-Vest-3046-000

Given that description, what are the failure modes you envision that are "psychopathic" and would endager the rider and/or erode public trust?


>If you ignore the LED indicators warning you that the airbag isn’t active, you can’t expect it to work when you’re not actively subscribed.

On the things I work on, where public trust is at stake, there are typically several layers of redundancy in not just the design, but also the regulation, all designed to prevent human error from occurring at a later date.

Here's a very simple example for a very common and low key activity: In my county, wastewater treatment regulation is based on the assumption that 100 feet of horizontal separation provides sufficient treatment and protection between a groundwater well supplying potable water, and a septic system. Now, both of those require permits to install which requires a site plan and coordinates, etc. (Check number one.) It is especially illegal for well drillers to drill a well without filing the permits and record with the county. (Check number two.) You cannot permit either a well or a septic system within 50 feet of a property line. (Check number three, which helps to ensure 100-feet between systems even if someone makes a mistake about what is occurring on an adjacent property.) When permitting a septic system, you must dig a deep hole to investigate and make sure that there is sufficient distance to groundwater through the soil to provide treatment before reaching groundwater. (Check 3, this provides redundancy in case there is some form of short circuiting, or a well get's drilled nearby anyway). The soil type is lab-verified to ensure it does not drain too quickly, compromising the treatment before effluent would hit groundwater. (Check 4: redundancy) In many cases, a monitoring well is required with a minimum of 6 inspections to further ensure that groundwater is sufficiently deep year round to avoid compromise. (check 5). Many of these steps require BOTH a licensed engineer and a county representative to be physically present. Etc. etc. etc. And this is an example with compartively VERY FEW regulations and checks to ensure that someone nearby you doesn't get sick.

>Did you review the design spec or read the product page?

Yes, I also ride motorcycles and have reviewed several motorcycle airbag options.

>... "If you ignore the LED indicators warning you that the airbag isn’t active, you can’t expect it to work when you’re not actively subscribed." ... Given that description, what are the failure modes you envision that are "psychopathic" and would endanger the rider and/or erode public trust?

1.) Human error to notice, identify, and correctly interpret an LED indicator light.

2.) Human error to properly correct an LED warning light indicator for a variety of reasons. ("I called them and gave them my new credit card so I should be ok, even though the light is on.")

3.) Inability to correct the situation without first continuing travel to an area with cell or internet service. (Date changed, subscription expired, have been traveling and haven't had reliable cell, internet, or mail for 2 months.)

4.) Hardware failures of a huge variety, which can exist in a system which has an inbuilt mechanism to DISABLE airbag.

5.) Programming errors and/or network errors.

6.) Hacking: The device is "connected and upgradeable". Enough said.

This whole thing is a terrible idea, to the point, where, I WOULD NOT TRUST the device even if I purchased the non-subscription version, lest it somehow fail after an unauthorized update, or revert to thinking I'm on a subscription service.

...The thing is, in engineering where public trust is involved, you simply DON'T DESIGN SAFETY SYSTEMS THIS WAY. You design them to be as hard to screw up as possible even in the face of substantial human error, or negligence, or malicious intent.

Would you feel ok entering a building where the fire exit required the building owner pay a subscription service to unlock?


Thanks for the detailed reply. So it seems like your objection has nothing to do with the payment model, right? All of these are just generic engineering concerns with any product at all that has the ability to electronically enable or disable a safety feature.

Why are you concerned about and this particular product, as opposed to say cars, which affect orders of magnitude more people? Modern cars have many safety systems that can be digitally activated and deactivated, including the steering, brakes, throttle, and airbags, by design. The ECU alone in any vehicle, car or motorcycle, is hackable and could kill you (did in Toyota's case). All vehicles have LED lights to indicate safety critical problems. Nowadays, it's more commonly Android-driven LCD panels with many, many more failure points than an LED.

I mean, I hear you that electronic systems have many failure modes. But electronic control is more than routine today, it's utterly ubiquitous, so what's the cause for such extreme concern here that words like "psychopath" are justified?

Tesla alone is putting more electronically controllable cars on the road than all highway motorcycles combined in the US per year. Should we even talk about the failure modes possible with a Tesla or other self-driving car?

> Would you feel ok entering a building where the fire exit required the building owner pay a subscription service to unlock?

If I had to manually power up the entry way, and the building warned me before I entered about the subscription status, it wouldn't bother me that much. Please do at least try to be fair to the perspective of the business Vice has misrepresented here.


Before I reply, I want to recognize that as the actual licensed engineer, you have more of a say in this than I do, a non licensed software developer, regardless I would like to continue the conversation to better understand why I am wrong.

Your core argument seems to ride on the idea that public trust is paramount. I can definitely see this on projects such as bridges, buildings, wells etc. I struggle to see it on a private consumer good such as an airbag vest. If I want to cross a river I'm forced to drive across a bridge, and the bridge doesn't come with an instruction manual. It makes sense to engineer for the lowest common denominator here so that the functionality is predictable.

But I'm not forced to use the airbag vest. Every issue you listed is a problem with almost all motor vehicles. On my car dashboard the LED that pops up to indicate low tire pressure is tiny and the label so abstract I had to look in up in the drivers manual to figure out what it meant. In many situations low tire pressure means you could be seconds away from losing control of the vehicle, yet the engineers trusted that dashboard LED would be safe enough for consumers to understand. This is also true for ABS, traction control, stability assist, brake failure, and whatever else gets its own LED.

Even disregarding the subscription service, it still makes sense to have a device that shows a status LED to confirm the system works. What if the battery died? What if some wire internally disconnected? What if some hardware component failed a startup check? An electronic system can alert you to failure conditions far better than a mechanical one.

> 4.) Hardware failures of a huge variety, which can exist in a system which has an inbuilt mechanism to DISABLE airbag.

On any modern passenger car the passenger airbag is disabled if a weight sensor in the seat isn't tripped. These systems already exist and are deployed en masse.

> 1.) Human error to notice, identify, and correctly interpret an LED indicator light.

> 2.) Human error to properly correct an LED warning light indicator for a variety of reasons. ("I called them and gave them my new credit card so I should be ok, even though the light is on.")

> 3.) Inability to correct the situation without first continuing travel to an area with cell or internet service. (Date changed, subscription expired, have been traveling and haven't had reliable cell, internet, or mail for 2 months.)

> 5.) Programming errors and/or network errors.

From the site: https://www.klim.com/Ai-1-Airbag-Vest-3046-000

4. If I’m subscribed monthly and miss a payment or my credit card expires, will the airbag suddenly stop working?

Answer: No. In&motion will reach out with a 30-day warning prior to your payment method expiration. After expiration or missed/forgotten payment, In&motion gives you a 30-day grace period during which the airbag functions completely the same. You will receive notifications about the missed payment. After the 30-day grace period, the airbag will stop detecting crashes until payment is resumed. You will not be able to turn on your airbag vest into ride-ready status after the 30-day grace period, so you won’t unknowingly ride with a non-functioning vest, unless you choose to ignore the LED indicators warning that it isn’t active.

5. Would In&motion turn off my vest mid-ride if I pass the 30-day grace period?

Answer: No. In&motion will not turn off your vest mid-ride for any reason, even if you’re at the end of the 30-day grace period and it elapses during your ride. The only way for it to turn off during a ride is if you didn’t charge the In&box and the battery dies (LEDs indicate battery level, which you see when you turn it on) or if you manually turn it off during your ride.

> Would you feel ok entering a building where the fire exit required the building owner pay a subscription service to unlock?

This is a false premise because fire exists are required by law and factored into the cost of the building. There is no legal situation where you can skimp out on fire exit costs. Also, a motorcycle isn't a shared space. Whether another rider chooses to wear protection or not has no impact on me as a car driver.


Thank you.


The ability for the vest to check if your still paying the subscription costs more money to build than an always working vest.

If it actually costs 800$ then you can give people the option to make 40 payments of 20$ a month easily like how many people buy iPhones and sofas.


This is a great point. The IoT subscription model can be avoided by using a more traditional rental model. I don't think anyone would have qualms over financing plans about this, but the IoT angle makes it more controversial.


Not a dilemma, it's just shitty.

Where does the $800 figure come from? As far as we know, it's just a number they made up. I have strong doubts they would be able to sell the vest at that price if only the "full price" option were available.


For context, the price of a non-airbag motorcycle jacket is typically $150 for a basic one, $250-400 for a good value, and up to $1000 or more for a high end jacket.

Also, the cost of a major motorcycle injury is easily six figures before insurance.


A determined commuter can ride bicycles/motorcycles on ice just fine with the right equipment. Just need tire studs and some good winter tires. They do it in Netherlands and northern Europe all the time.

https://www.amazon.com/Estink-Anti-Slip-Chains-Spikes-Motorc...

https://www.amazon.com/Schwalbe-Spiker-Studded-Mountain-Bicy...


I don't think they 'made a mistake'. They just realized that they wouldn't sell many at $800, and that they'd probably make more by appearing the cut the price and flogging a subscription model. Unfortunately for them they hired a comms director who comes off as a sociopath and thinks hostage taking is a reasonable business model.


So... this thing phones home to activate every time you jump on your motorcycle? I would absolutely love to be the lawyer who's client sustained life threatening injuries because your server was temporarily down precisely when it needed to verify DRM on a motorcycle airbag.


Hah... what if I go on a multi-day ride in an area with no cell coverage? Or in a foreign country where I don't want to activate maybe-expensive data roaming on my phone?

Maybe their "Click here to accept" EULA has a clause that you need Internet connectivity at least once a day as well?

If the schmairbag has a fail-active functionality, then the hack would be to install their app on a disconnected phone. "I can't contact my stupid-ass rent-seeking makers right now, so I guess I'll keep the airbag functioning".


TFA isn't specific but it looks like you have to use an app to turn it on before you ride and the app is the mechanism by which the phone home happens.


Sounds like that's a nice route to forcibly obsolete this well before the end of its usable life by turning off the API servers and saying "it's for your own safety... We have a better newer device now available for only $800 (plus subscription)".

Also a nice single point of failure if you can hijack their DNS and deny every activation request (!)


Note that you have the option of purchasing the vest outright, and there's also a purchase option if you subscribe for 3 years, similar to a lease.

In conclusion, buy a Helite Turtle. Fully offline, no electronics, and user-refillable with simple CO2 cartridges.

Fortnine did a great video surverying motorcycle airbag tech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2jZryt607U


The Helite e-Turtle is probably a better choice for those who aren't trying to save money.

You still get the same great west with user-refillable cartridges, just a quicker response and no tether. The only downside (apart from the increased cost) is the charging process. The fork sensor is also really neat.

Regardless of if you go for a tether-Turtle or a e-Turtle though, it's a vastly better west than the one this article talks about. Nevermind the horrific subscription model, it also provides way less protection than a Turtle (which inflates and limits head/neck movement, vital in a crash).


You can go for one time payment if you don't like to pay monthly, inflation time 3 times faster => vital for a collision, by the highest experience and proven real crashes situations


In&motion as, by far; much more experience in smart systems (MotoGP, Dakar Rally, Ski Racing) and they work with 7 recognized brands and they have offices in the US and Europe.


No electronics? How does it detect crashes?


It uses a calibrated tether from the rider to the bike. If the tether detaches, a valve is opened that inflates the vest. The tether is strong enough that it won't activate by accident but weak enough to activate in a get-off crash.


Imagine a car which won't activate the airbags (or emergency braking sensors, or ABS, or...) if you get in a crash while you're behind on a payment.

Scummy.

Remember, "entrepreneurs," you can't collect debts from the poor dead (who don't have estates to collect against)


I would more expect that you couldn't even unlock the car to get in or even start the car would be more of where we are heading.


You are way behind the curve. Google "car payment lock" and you'll see. Preventing the car from starting if you miss a payment has been a thing for almost a decade in the sub-prime market.


I know that breathalyzers are a thing too, but that's not something I have personal experience with. Does that make me behind the curve there as well?


No, because you know they exist.


Imagine selling a car airbag system separate from the car.


Would be pretty sweet. We could retrofit older cars with some modern safety features... but the problem is that they have to be integrated into the design of the car. The airbag can't be too close or too far away, or hit you from the wrong angle.. or else it could end up killing you.

Also airbags for cars are designed to keep you from smashing your body into the interior of the car. Airbags for riders are to keep you from smashing into the ground or other objects. I think it's pretty rare that colliding with the bike itself happens. That's why bikes don't have airbags on them.


Would be pretty easy to integrate airbags into old cars.

Measure minimum distance from seat back to steering wheel and then configure airbag based on that (probably remove jumpers or something to control detonation). Sensor locations are pretty standard and modern airbags and computers are fast enough that you don't need to use crumple zones as a hack to buy time for the bag to go off before the occupant starts moving toward the space the bag will be in.


Yeah but most older cars have steering wheels with no place for an airbag, and a slip-ring with 1 conductor for the horn. Maybe something from the 80s will have a 3 conductor slip ring for cruise control or something... that would be the hard part. Nobody who has an old car will want some ugly airbag tacked on somewhere. It has to be tightly integrated and be invisible or nobody would buy it.


Kind of hard to put an airbag on a bike. Honda tried with the Gold Wing. It only worked to prevent an over-the-bars crash. Didn't help in common lowside and highside crashes. Plus most bikes don't have any room for an airbag anyway, as anyone who's had to work on a cramped modern bike can attest to.


Motorcycle airbags are worn and are not part of the bike.


It's probably best to not give BMW any more bad ideas.


with OTA updates, etc. one can expect that the "premium" features will be activated or not depending on the payment - "do you want to unlock the ludicrously soft luxury suspension mode?", seat heating/ventilation, self-driving levels, etc.

This airbag vest case is a kind of preview of Peak Subscription. Only imagine your artificial kidney instead of the vest.


Makes more sense to disable the entire car, not the safety mechanisms.

At at least put the car in "limp mode" limiting it to 20mph (30kmh).


The part that gets me, someone wrote this code. Someone was asked to disable a safety device if someone didn't pay, and some software engineer agreed, and then actually wrote that line of code. How could someone willingly agree to that?

if (user.last_pmt_date < today - 30daysago) { disable_life_saving_equipment(); }


I would refactor that line of code to ease my conscience:

    if (user.subscription.is_current()) {
        add_value();
    }
Of course, add_value() then enables the technology. And I'm not "disabling" anything, merely adding value when appropriate!


```

else{ purchase_term_life_policy() enable_brakes_cost_saving_when_downhill_feature(); enable_short_current_stock_and_post_to_aggragater(); }

```


Now that's the kind of thinking that gets you a lucrative job offer from Boeing.


I prefer dangerouslySetKillSwitch


Mortgage, bonus, performance reviews and others that make us do things we wish we hadn't. A sad state of affairs.


How does someone get to a point where they're willing to hurt someone over money? I understand desperation, life or death. Which I don't believe this is. The simple reason is, indifference. Which I can't wrap my head around. How do you have the ability and knowledge to write software that does this... and still do this?


Ah but you’re not hurting them, you’re “just” turning the other way as they get hurt. You can then justify your behavior with some “personal responsibility” mantra (they should have paid their debts! They should have paid upfront! They should have tried harder to be rich!).


Because this is click bait designed to create outrage. There are two options for buying this product. One is outright. Another is basically lease to own. Quite a different narrative. Why on earth would you expect something that you failed to pay for to keep working?


> Why on earth would you expect something that you failed to pay for to keep working?

I'd expect it to keep working because the airbag doesn't need a micro service in the cloud to function. Once the software is written, and the hardware delivered. The company can't lose more money then they're already out. The user may, or may not pay the full amount. If the airbag doesn't work, and the user needed it to work. There's 0% chance they'd pay you after that. But if they didn't pay you, and they used it, and it protected them. Some of them would pay the remaining owed.

You can even ignore morality and ethics; simple game theory makes this idea stupid.


Look we found the guy who's willing to let someone die to maybe make 400USD.

Because I'd expect a company to be willing to write off <400 USD to prevent someone from dying. If I get antibiotics to you know, not die. Where I agree to pay it off after some time. And for [reason] can't/dont. I wouldn't expect the physician to reinfect me. Would you?

inb4 that's different! Ok how?

Edit: is it lease to own, or is it an indefinite subscription system?


Alright I'll bite. It is lease to own, not an indefinite subscription.

First off the device itself is completely optional to use, and infact millions of people don't use or have this device. They operate their motorcycles every day just fine. So it isn't really a life or death situation. It isn't a pacemaker or medical device where the user dies if it is turned off. So let's not be so dramatic.

Yes it might improve your chances of survival if you get into an accident. But you know what will improve your odds significantly? Not riding a motorcycle in the first place.

A user would also know ahead of time if the device is active or not. It might be a different story if it suddenly stopped working with the user unaware. It is up to the user whether or not to risk using a motorcycle without the device.

Let's take this same scenario and change the product in question and still see if it is so horrible.

If you own a SAAS business and a client stops paying. Do you continue to provide the service? Probably not.

If you are a car rental company, and a customer stops paying. Do you continue to let them use the vehicle? Again no.


> First off the device itself is completely optional to use, and infact millions of people don't use or have this device. They operate their motorcycles every day just fine. So it isn't really a life or death situation. It isn't a pacemaker or medical device where the user dies if it is turned off. So let's not be so dramatic.

Well, I guess eating is optional too then... you know if you're willing to die. Which is what this product is supposed to prevent. And it's is just like a medical device. If you turn off a pacemaker, or ICD, or an insulin pump, you don't die outright either. Your risk of death only goes up. While I do agree that it's not a medical device, it is a safety device designed to prevent or limit injury and harm. So I don't think we're being dramatic to be appalled that someone would make things less safe, where the risk of death goes up, for less than 400USD.

> Yes it might improve your chances of survival if you get into an accident. But you know what will improve your odds significantly? Not riding a motorcycle in the first place.

So if I'm riding a motorcycle, and someone hits me it's my fault for riding a motorcycle? What if I'm in a car and get tboned at an intersection, my fault as well for daring to go outside right? I agree with the point I hope you're trying to make, which is the user should accept the risk for their actions. If a user does something that's risky. It's on them, it's obviously their responsibility. But the risk they're willing to accept is independent from what's reasonable behavior from someone else. If I buy a car, and stop paying, and someone comes to repossess the car. That's is a risk, but it's a risk that can't lead to injury or death. With out a car, I might not be able to work and I lose my job. I think that's a reasonable risk that a lender could subject someone to. But in this case, the risk is someone dies.

> A user would also know ahead of time if the device is active or not. It might be a different story if it suddenly stopped working with the user unaware. It is up to the user whether or not to risk using a motorcycle without the device.

> Let's take this same scenario and change the product in question and still see if it is so horrible.

> If you own a SAAS business and a client stops paying. Do you continue to provide the service? Probably not.

Would my users die if I didn't? because if I was doing something like providing medical records, I might continue let them access the service. The critical difference here though, that you seem to have decided to ignore is that this is an additional cost for doing this. Renting servers or buying bandwidth has a cost. If my airbag didn't need to phone home and ask permission to work, they wouldn't have any additional expense. So it's not the same.

> If you are a car rental company, and a customer stops paying. Do you continue to let them use the vehicle? Again no.

I addressed this above, but there's a huge cost difference here. Cars, usually are thousands of USD. Where this can't be more than 400. Is it reasonable to repossess a car, risking inconvenience, or reversible hardship to reclaim thousands? Yeah, probably. Is it reasonable to let someone die or be maimed for less than 400? After they've already given you at least 1/2 the cost of the system? No, it's not. Especially if you consider that you make a mistake and take my car, I can sue for the damages from that. Where as if I die or become paralyzed, there's no amount of money that could undo that. So again, it's different from a service or convenience.


As far as I can tell, there is one option for buying the vest: pay $399.99. There are two options for some 'algorithm' service, which seems to me a lazy way to make a product like this. Where is this algorithm service located? If it's not in the jacket, that doesn't sound reliable. If it is, then what am I paying for when you already sold me the device?


There are 2 options for buying the product, yes. It's the same product, so it can be remotely deactivated regardless of which option you selected.


Why would you buy a jacket or write software for a jacket that could be disabled and NOT think that's what you're doing when you do this?


it sounds more like:

   // start up device
   if (user.last_pmt_date < today - 30daysago) return "please pay us"
but yhea


Survival as a Service. Nice.

FWIW...This is pretty much a great way to get sued senseless in case you think this is a great business model. The minute someone dies wearing a switched off vest, an army of PI lawyers will be foaming at the mouth to get "why did this person die because they were late on a payment" in front of a jury.

Edit: In the US at least, your jurisdictional mileage may vary.


I wonder how long the subscribe process is. If it’s measured in milliseconds you could use an accelerometer to detect an impact and subscribe mid-crash. JIT airbagging.


High frequency trading tech finds a new field.


You have to factor in phone connection, which can take a while - or not work at all, if you’re sufficiently remote… which I’m sure never happens when you’re riding a motorbike for fun /s


I would also recommend crashing close to the server to keep latency down too.


I agree this feels pretty questionable, but if you take that view, you should ask yourself how you feel about the Garmin inReach Mini [1] (and possibly other devices in that family). It's an emergency satellite SOS device for outdoor recreation, with a monthly subscription option—and many features beyond pure SOS. When the subscription is suspended though, the SOS functionality will not work (unlike, say, a cellphone).

And yet it is—from my observation—an incredibly popular device, and I would bet that the start/stop monthly plan is the most popular (it's the one I use).

Obvious one difference is that here you get something for your monthly subscription (maintenance of the Iridium network, an emergency response center, etc). But given the incredibly low rate of people pushing the SOS button, the relatively low cost of that happening (it's not like they actually mount the search and rescue, they just pass on a message), and the incredibly high benefits, how different is it really?

[1] https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/592606


Has there been any suggestion as to what happens when the company behind this inevitably goes bankrupt (all companies will eventually fail) or is "acquired" and scuttled? Or they cease to desire to provide the API backend for the mobile app?

It strikes me safety critical equipment is the one time when we don't want any kind of dependency on an external hosted service.

As it stands right now, it seems like even a fully paid-up, owned outright version could cease to function if they lost control of their domain name?

Am I correct in my understanding this product is tied to your phone to "call home" and validate its state? If so, doesn't that mean it's unusable without your phone being working, charged, non-stolen and non-broken? And the same for their servers. So you could in theory go on a journey protected, stop for a break, and find you can't continue your journey protected as you're out of signal, or something has broken?

This feels like a good opportunity for a government to take a stance on safety products. At the very least they'll reduce the amount of eWaste when these stop working before the end of their useful life.


When I pick a new helmet, I pick from brands that have spent years earning my trust. This I will never buy; I just can't deal with a company that from the outset feels grubby.


I think my favorite quote from the article is:

“If they then choose to ignore the indicators and ride with the In&box inactive, that's on them and we can expect it not to inflate in the event of a crash.”

When their product doesn’t work, one of their customers dies, and they need to explain to the deceased children why their dads not coming home; I wonder how convincing the “that’s on them” explanation will be.


The price of life is apparently on the order of $50 or so.


Klim makes good gear. I have only heard positive things about the company prior to seeing this article.


How can I trust that something like this has gone through the appropriate, rigorous level of critical systems testing to keep me alive if it's using a phone-home, bluetooth app to make logic decisions?


Don't forget their secure boot measures on the onboard microcontroller, to stop malware or a rogue Bluetooth device doing an OTA DFU update to swap around the GPIO pins to indicate "activated" and not actually arm the system...

Some kinds of devices just shouldn't be connected - they should be sold and bought as-is, and function independently of outside factors, as they are safety devices.


I want to know the engineers' names that signed off on this design.


Oh man, wait until you find out about motorcycle helmets!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BUyp3HX8cY


This is completely different.

A helmet is a piece of physical equipment that uses the physical properties of its ingredients and the structure of that equipment to operate.

There is no logic in a helmet that impacts its safety feature.

This is a jacket that can, in software, decide to not do what it's designed to do.


This is the second FortNine link I've come across in this thread and, even though I have less than zero interest in anything related to motorcycles, the channel is awesome! Surprisingly interest content.


What worries me more is all the complex interactions required to make this work. The ability to remotely disable a safety system due to non-payment means that all the components in the payment chain are now potentially safety-critical. I wonder how Apple/Google pay engineers feel about that.

Edit: And this may remain true even if the rider chooses the one-time payment option. Depending on implementation, bugs, etc.


If you're in the market for a Motorcycle Airbag, this is worth a watch. https://youtu.be/N2jZryt607U

If you don't wanna watch, the Helite Turtle range seem to be the best way to go.


thank you!


the CO2 leash style ones are better for most people anyway. Unless you're spending a LOT of time on the track, you want this: https://www.hit-air.com/en/motorcycle/ which i prefer over the helite because it has an even more aggressive cervical collar.

I'm very comfortable with my Aerostitch as an overall protective garment, but I really want a neck collar too. That this is more or less a RADiKS Kourier onesie is not coincidental.


If the product is too expensive they should sell it with an optional payment plan with Affirm or a similar company that acts like a credit card with the hardware fully paid upfront. This is what Peleton uses... Tying payment to safety functionality is just waiting for a lawsuit.


I think I’d be more ok with this if you couldn’t actually put the vest on when it’s been bricked. I understand the allure of the subscription model, but if I put on a piece of safety equipment, I think I should be able to expect it to work.


Why isn't this illegal ?

You can forget to update your credit card number and end up dieing ?


Motorcycle safety gear is almost unregulated in the US. The one regulation (The DOT helmet standard) is an absolute joke.

I can legally ride my Suzuki motorcycle, which has a fully custom exhaust, an ultrabright LED floodlight and zero safety features, wearing no safety gear except eyeglasses in my state. (I built it as a dirt bike juuust legal enough to ride to the trailhead.)


This is a much lager scope problem than motorcycle safety.


Someone is going to die from this. Then these guys are going to get sued for every dime they have.


Maybe, but you know they have had lawyers involved. I'm guessing that there is a legal agreement somewhere that stipulates this will happen so that the lawyers have covered their backsides. Since it involves downloading an app, it'll probably be a section in the EULA that everyone read before checking that "I Agree" box. right?


Even if there is such language in the EULA, courts sometimes rule that such language is not legally binding. Sometimes the courts use words like "unconscionable". IANAL, but I sure think that word fits...


My personal favorite is "no reasonable person". I want to use "no reasonable person" will read the EULA and does not actually agree to what the provider is wishing them to agree.


I doubt it. Besides the EULA that has already been mentioned, the standard equipment is a padded jacket with abrasion resistant fabric.

They could probably argue that their product is adding protection above current standards, and a deactivated vest would merely reduce the rider back to the safety level considered standard.

I dislike a subscription based airbag vest, but I really don't think they'll get sued over that.


ctrl-F, "sued", upvote. My thoughts exactly.

this is awful.


As vile as this is, at least you can buy it outright. That puts it so far ahead of nearly the entire predatory SaaS ecosystem. I use Photoshop and Illustrator once a month. Still, for some strange reason I overpay to keep up an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Ideally I'd vote with my wallet and stop paying companies with such anti-consumer practices.


But if you buy outright does your product still need to contact the server to verify you bought it outright?


There's not a jury in the world that would not pave this company flat when the first death occurs because the rider missed a payment. (Or more likely because the rider kept up with the payments but the Internet-of-Shit software screwed up.)


I have several quips on this, some dry and most morbid unfortunately, as there is no other way but the truth to paint it. I am really looking forward to the day when medical device manufactures realize the profit opportunities from this technique by adding "features". Can anyone here provide a better reason than to always put one's health first?

1) The rich get richer, they also live longer too.

2) Please have finance work with data analysis on subscriptions to run a report against the master death file as we need to purge those who will no longer be paying. Data storage costs money and we do not need to keep rotting data.

3) Please contact the CEO, the CLO and the board. Let them know we are forwarding a voicemail we just received. The system architects designed the MVP based on first and last name for unique identification instead of a proper Uuid in the system. Time didn't allow us to refactor based on management pressures so when a customer, John Smith, failed to pay the system disabled every John Smith vest. A John Smith in good financial standing was killed last week and his widow just called and had her lawyer on the phone - she made some very impactful statements. Please consider this my two weeks notice as well.


This is wild. It's the most Snow Crash nonsense I've ever seen.


I think they're up for a big trouble as soon as somebody dies / gets injured and the lawsuit comes.

And in this case I wish they get punished to oblivion. Something in this way of selling does not add up in my brain from the ethics point of view.


This sounds like corporate manslaughter.


Any kind of grafted on service should be rejected. If a safety device requires an internet connection to work at all it should not pass first base but be rejected outright. After all, it might be some other bug or issue that causes you to lose your life or health.


This is a little bit of click-bait, and the incredulity and pitchforks are over-reacting. The title & article were designed to stoke fears. It's a payment plan, just like anything else we finance, houses, cars, motorcycles. Failure to pay normally means you lose the thing outright, at least in this case you keep the vest and have the option to resume the payment plan.

They explain clearly that you won't accidentally die, because it will be obvious when you put it on and try to turn on the power.

Notice that the advantages of their financing plan actually address a bunch of things that people complain about wrt software subscriptions:

- Spread out the spending

- Make the initial price cheaper

- Stop payments when not in use (!)

- Upgrades over time

- Buyout option after three years

In terms of rent-seeking subscription models, this one is way better than most of the stuff on the internet, I hope more subscriptions take note of this kind of pricing. And it's making a motorcycle airbag more accessible to riders, that's a good thing too.


I don't necessarily disagree with your perspective here, it makes sense. That being said, with payment plans, there's typically some notion of an interest rate. If you miss a payment, you "just" owe the compounding interest (eventually).

Typically, rates are regulated, and even when it's not regulated, usury is highly frowned upon.

Taking your analogy to its conclusion, the "interest rate" for nonpayment here could potentially be outright death when the thing in question stops working. It's hard to put a dollar value on a human life, but that's a hell of an interest rate!


It doesn't stop working while you're riding, that's just hyperbole stirred up by this headline. This is not a safety issue, nor is this unreasonable "usury".

Just like any financing plan in existence, the interest rate here is that the total cost of ownership is higher on the payment plan than on the alternative pay-up-front plan they offer. The benefit of the payment plan is you can start for less money. The unusual feature of this payment plan compared to your house, car, or credit cards is you get to pause and/or cancel it with no penalties.


Yeah that's fair.


We’re rapidly approaching an Ubik-like future where every object demands payment before use.

Maybe the idea of paying to open a fridge or unlock a door wasn’t just a silly sci-fi concept—maybe the wrong person just hasn’t considered doing such a thing yet.


Looking at this in a bit more detail. Any aibag using the In&Motion controller suffers from the same fate. Furygan, RST etc.


They deserve to go bankrupt. For sure you can get for 800 bucks a more than decent motorcycle protective jacket than this joke.


Maybe they say this to incentivize subscribers to continue paying

Meanwhile, it will work always anyway. Thats how I would build it


Serious question: how likely is this to stand up to regulatory scrutiny? Given that they seem to be incorporated in the US and the EU, if a rider dies because the vest didn't inflate and, say, their family sues the company, is the company likely to fold into oblivion so no one tries this dumb stunt again?

If I remember correctly, this was what led to auto safety features in the first place (IE Nader's Unsafe At Any Speed).


LOL there's barely any regulation of motorcycle safety in the US. ABS brakes aren't even mandated here.

Pretty much the only regulation is the laughably bad DOT helmet standard. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BUyp3HX8cY). Every rider I know who wears a helmet, buys an ECE or Snell helmet instead.


In the US, the regulatory car is on fire and there's no driver at the wheel.


I think we're starting to see the beginning of LAAS (Life as a Service)/s

This is getting utterly ridiculous.


Now do insulin...ah, too late.


No hacker will ever remotely de-activate the vest.

Except the hackers working at Klim, I suppose.


Fire extinguishers are next.


A general question: what evidence is there that airbag vests help?


The Fortnine video being posted throughout this thread discusses the math- they're 50 times more effective than armor plates and are race-proven in motogp.


Is this something we need evidence for?

A question I would understand is something like "is there a good study on how much an airbag vest helps?".

But especially the kind with cervical stabilization, it's pretty much guaranteed to provide some protection. There will be some situations where the rider is injured instead of dead, or bruised instead of injured.

RCTs aren't science, we're allowed to reason on the basis of readily-apparent empirical facts.


Is this something we need evidence for?

Wow. When is the answer to this question not "Yes"?


All the time?

Is water wet? Is the grass green? If you're hungry, will eating food relieve hunger?

Are you better off falling off a motorbike wearing a jacket or nothing?

Ok, how about a blow-up cervical collar?


My guess is, you're either too young to remember what happened when automobile airbags first began to appear, or you just weren't paying attention.

Hint: the current recommendation to place children in the rear seats came about as the result of more than a few children being injured or killed by airbags. It transpires that when you use explosives to solve a problem, the unintended consequences can take a while to work out.


Just watch this. Should be all the evidence you need.

https://youtu.be/6nOwDAel38g


A lot less injuries in MotoGP for starters.


Um no. This absolutely precludes purchasing this shit.


tbh if you're missing payments of $12 a month for your safety device, You should not be out having fun. you should be working.


While the majority of motorcycles in the US are recreational, there are many of us who use them as our primary commuter vehicle. Outside of the US, this is much more common, especially in Asia.


I ride to work.


hahahahaha, pay up or die. best business idea everrr


Well, IoT is just an amplifier and enabler of the rich people's desires. If they were good, their goodness would radiate thru this new IoT channel, but our society is still immature, it promotes sociopaths to the top and so their greed and evilness floods over the IoT gates.




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