The Situation

Often in group or competitive rides cyclists are encouraged to share emergency contact info, for obvious good reasons. Sometimes this is done by just texting phone numbers, maybe it’s recorded during event registration, or maybe it’s engraved on a bracelet. That all works, but it can be a bit of a PITA when contact info needs updating and potentially dangerous if there’s one person who knows your info isn’t around when you really need them to be.

Lassie Codes

So imagine instead there’s a spot on the helmet your riding buddies could scan with a regular ol’ smartphone, and as soon as it’s scanned the phone calls the wearer’s emergency contact. Almost all modern smartphones do this automatically when a QR code is within the camera frame.

That’s what Lassie Codes does! (Get it? Like “help Timmy’s in the well”?) QR codes are easy to update and cheap to print. And it’ll always be with you when you need it (subject to still being in a readable state, which is a risk I think can be remediated with a high error correction level and maybe a redundant code).

Scanning a code in the camera app on an iPhone. And Cecil modeling the safety gear.

I learned next.js to write this app, and so far there’s not a ton to it. You enter information for an emergency contact, press “generate”, and client-side JS turns it into a QR code, including some helpful notes for those who might be needing to use it. If you login, then contact information is persisted and your own name is added to the QR code. It’s simple but effective.


Up Next for Lassie Codes


Thank goodness for smart friends, because in my mind this was about the vision I had for Lassie Codes. But when I shared on Twitter, Mike responded asking if I’d considered any RFID. Frankly it took me a minute to even wrap my head around the idea, because I was so set on simple printed paper codes, but it’s a brilliant suggestion. NFC chips could be more robust than paper in weather, and likely more attractive on the helmet. There’s a lot I don’t know, but I had a NFC hat for a Raspberry Pi and 50 blank ntag chips delivered just today to start figuring it out. So stay tuned.


Engineering-wise, it also introduces a “real world” element. Lassie Codes is hosted in AWS, so I can certainly build services to accept orders of NFC tags, but now I have to turn these web requests into little mailed widgets. I’m no doubt over-engineering this in my mind already, but that’s a fun crossover to build.

GUI and UX

Forever the bane of my full-stack endeavors. But I’ll continue to slog my way through CSS 101 and do what I can. It’s not really something I enjoy. I realize for it to be useable the UX has to at least make sense, and current state isn’t attractive, but in my mind this is about 1/100th as interesting as the NFC-related challenges.
So I’ll get there, but also… paging interested front-end devs. :pager:

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