In-car security for portable GPS devices

This product was conceived by Who-Rae, an Australian-based automotive accessory company with many years of product and branding experience across world-markets. Studies have shown that GPS monitors have been the biggest single target for car thieves in most developed countries. MapLock provides additional security to prevent GPS theft and deter ‘smash-and-grab’ damage to parked cars.

With their strong sense of consumer needs (opportunity) and auto-accessory retailing (market), Who-Rae requested Cobalt to take their idea and develop a successful product. Within 6 months, Who-Rae launched the finished product at the world’s biggest auto accessory trade exhibition, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA). MapLock was awarded a prestigious Editor’s Choice Award.

Although taking your GPS monitor with you when leaving your car seems logical, the tell-tale suction cup marks on the windscreen are an open invitation for unscrupulous passers-by to break into and damage your car believing your GPS might be in the glove compartment.

MapLock allows owners to easily secure their GPS without removing it from its cradle. The device has a highly secure hardened clasp, die-cast body, and 7-pin cam lock. Internally, MapLock uses a ‘locking-clutch’ mechanism allowing the clasp to be firmly clasped and locked in an infinite number of positions making it impossible to remove a secured GPS. Once locked, MapLock is tethered to the steering wheel to stop easy ‘smash & grab’ thefts. The tether, a hardened stainless-steel cable, locks in the same action as the clasp. The tether cable is coiled in a convenient ring for easy stowage.


  • Deterrence whist allowing GPS to be left in place
  • High consumer appeal to fit all popular GPS monitors
  • Intuitive to users
  • Designed with an appealing price point mind


  • Aluminium die-cast body with hardened steel clasp
  • ‘Corner-to-corner’ format suits wide range of fitment, avoiding cable/cradle variations
  • Bright, dynamic styling designed to be noticed
  • Tether locks in a single-action with main device


  • Industrial design
  • User research
  • CAD modelling of external surfaces
  • Engineering configuration concepts
  • On-going technical assistance
  • On-site tool reviews (China)
  • Product brand design
  • Fitting instructions layout & design
  • Ryan Harper
  • Warwick Brown
  • Steve Martinuzzo
  • Simon Andresen
  • Daniel Booker
  • Carla Zampaglione
  • Krista Lindegger

Design Process

Cobalt designed MapLock from idea to engineering concept. It was globally launched in less than 26 weeks. During this time user research, engineering trials and materials/component procurement were conducted between Cobalt and our manufacturing partner. As a case study in product development the project shows the benefits of:

  • Strong understanding of consumer needs and retailer environments
  • Clear lines of responsibility, where Cobalt defined the product configuration and external surfaces
  • Rapid, concurrent development to hit the market as early as possible

The Result

MapLock’s design language and colours are also intended to deter opportunistic thieves from even trying to gain entry to the vehicle.

Clever design of the body enshrouds the GPS within a hardened steel and aluminium ‘clasp’. Surfaces contacting the GPS are plastic to protect the monitor.

A key requirement was for the device to universally fit many GPS or similarly sized devices (i.e. mobile phones, palm-pcs). This drove the ‘corner-to-corner’ format, allowing MapLock to fit a wide range of designs.

MapLock combines dynamic forms typical to automotive environments. It is intended to have a strong appeal to the general market as well as satisfy the most fanatic technology/car lovers.

Related projects