The first car I fell in love with was a 1988 Nissan Maxima. Strange, I know. But my father had one and when you are a five-year-old child, anything that revs past 3000rpm is a suitable stand-in for a Formula 1 car. Over the years, my love of cars developed into a passion for everything with motors; snowmobiles, ATVs, lawnmowers - anything! I have no idea why I felt the way I did towards internal combustion engines, but there was no denying the mystifying pull that gasoline and oil had over my life.
During high school and college, another one of my passions was "amateur photography." I cringe to use that phrase because realistically speaking, I was nowhere near talented or skilled enough to call myself a photographer. I simply liked to take pictures, an interest borne almost as much from the technological marvels that were SLR camera systems as it was from a desire to produce "artistic" photography.
My third interest that is relevant to the noPhoto relates to home theater systems - specifically, high-end audio and video setups capable of incredible sound and images. So it was one fateful day while taking pictures of a recently completed home theater room that I noticed the infrared light from remote controls was clearly visible on camera, even though it was invisible to the naked eye. Intellectually, this was a fact that I knew - I had probably read it in a publication such as Popular Science or WIRED. But it was not until this moment where it hit me - in a melding of my three primary interests, I could use infrared light from LEDs to prevent cameras from obtaining images of a license plate.
I built a very rough prototype and enlisted my friend Nathan to help me test it. It didn't work. We discovered that infrared LEDs have no hope of overpowering the ambient infrared light emitted from the sun. The most powerful commercially available LEDs were not even visible in full sunlight, regardless of how many we chained together. There were other problems as well - pre-existing flash detection circuits were not sensitive enough to reliably detect a flash from either consumer or speed cameras in sunlight, and we would need to invent some way of false-alert filtering, attachment to the license plate, and to make everything work off of a noisy 12-volt car electrical system.
Having raised a small amount of money from friends and family (enough to build a bare circuit board prototype using xenon flashes instead of infrared LEDs), Nathan and I decided that we would turn to crowdfunding to help raise the rest of the necessary capital. Automated traffic enforcement and the related privacy concerns were hot button issues - we hoped to tap into that public dialogue and gauge the market reaction to our idea. The only problem was that if we were going to be a "real" company, we needed a "real" name! Completely out of ideas, we settled on noLimits Enterprises - a recycled (yet strangely applicable) name from a computer building business I had run back in high school. We created an Indiegogo campaign and spent days and days emailing every automotive editor on the internet.
A few days after we sent the emails, Autoblog interviewed us and put us on the front page. We were then picked up by major news networks such as the Huffington Post, WIRED, CNET, and Yahoo!. The Indiegogo campaign gave us over $28,000 in pledges and invaluable publicity. Leveraging the groundswell of support from our Indiegogo campaign, we were able to raise the remainder of the necessary funding to work with a professional engineering company and finally arrive at market. In September 2013, we shipped the first noPhotos - the first and only effective commercially available countermeasure for automated traffic enforcement.
The two years here at noLimits has been exciting, hectic, thrilling, and most of all interesting. It is gratifying to look at how far we have come. And as a partially crowdfunded company, our progress would have been impossible without you - our backers, customers, prospective customers, and everyone interested in the issue of automated enforcement.
Cars are a big part of my life. I have met many of my closest friends through cars, I relieve stress through driving my car, and I am still just as much in love with anything that uses spark plugs as I was when I was six years old. I believe automated traffic enforcement, in all of its imperfectness and sometimes illegality, threatens the very nature of the automotive enthusiast as well as the safety of the general public.
Thank you for helping us do what we can to defeat these "big-brother" systems and preserve the sense of adventure, beauty, and outright joy of the automobile.