Ideas

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: GPS-thwarting snack bag

Packaged chips icon vector illustration isolated on white background. Fast food snack, vending machine menu pictogram in flat design
ap images

What is it? A GPS-thwarting snack bag

Innovator: Tom Colella, an electrician in Perth, Australia

What was he thinking? Electrician Tom Colella liked golf. Trouble was, his job with a water company in Western Australia was keeping him off the links. And it was tough to knock off work when his personal digital assistant — a sort of handheld computer — had a GPS that allowed his employer to track his movements. So he put his expertise to work, stashing the device in Mylar snack bags that normally hold cheese puffs. The effect was to create a sort of a low-cost Faraday cage that blocked GPS tracking.

Advertisement

Did it work? Colella’s low-tech defiance of the surveillance culture allowed him to play more than 140 rounds of golf undetected. But his employer eventually caught on and fired him. And the Australian Fair Work Commission upheld the decision. NPR reports that Colella has found a new job, though, as an Uber driver. Plenty of GPS involved, but he also has the flexibility to golf whenever he wants.

David Scharfenberg can be reached at david.scharfenberg@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @dscharfGlobe