Tech

Ooono, Saphe & Co .: What are speed cameras with app connection from 40 euros good?

Many years ago I was able to see a “real” radar detector in action. The device was several hundred euros expensive, looked like some kind of US military equipment, had a display, many buttons – and warned of supposed speed cameras so often that the driver was at least no longer traveling too fast. The reason for this: Some of the radar frequencies used by traffic monitoring systems are also used in other places, for example in the sensors of automatic shop doors. It is therefore regularly jingling in town. In addition, the mobile speed cameras with light barriers with sensors, which are popular in this country, cannot be detected. And laser guns trigger the warner – equipped with additional external sensors – but only when the measurement has already been completed.

The next generation of “danger zone warning” – more on the legal situation below – works much more simply, is much cheaper and works surprisingly reliably. Main reason: There are no sensors. Instead, the community reports speed cameras on the roadside, similar to the radio station, by pressing a button instead of calling. If enough users have reported a speed camera, it appears in the database and is passed on to other users who, as they drive past, confirm it briefly by pressing a button when they see it. If the speed camera is not confirmed for long enough, it disappears from the list.

Without hardware, this has been working via app for years; in Germany, for example, Blitzer.de is known. The small Bluetooth receivers, for example from Ooono or Saphe, are new. They are attached in the car, depending on the model, for example with a plug-in ventilation grille holder or with double-sided adhesive tape. Laying cables or an additional power supply is not necessary, the small boxes work with button cells (Ooono) or integrated rechargeable batteries (Saphe). The associated app runs on the smartphone, which in both cases also uses the Blitzer.de database, among other things.



If you get into the car, thanks to Bluetooth Low Energy, the devices wake up without pressing a button or manual intervention. They briefly report by happy blinking and trilling that they are connected to the smartphone. The mobile phone app requires access to GPS data, tracks the driver’s route – and sounds the alarm in the vicinity of a danger zone reported by the community (such as black ice or the end of a traffic jam in a curve) as well as in the vicinity of stationary and mobile speed cameras.

We tried two products: Ooono and Saphe Drive Mini. Ooono is very minimalistic, a small round button with a speaker, LEDs and a button. On the back there are double-sided adhesive pads for assembly, other brackets are optionally available. In the event of an alarm, an intrusive tone sounds and blue LEDs flash – signs for a speed camera. Operation is via a button cell, the status of which appears in the mobile phone app. Settings can also be made there, such as the volume of the warning tone, whether a warning from speed traps should be issued or only in front of dangerous areas and how early the alarm should sound. A push of the Ooono button reports a speed camera, a double tap reports a danger spot back to the community. Ooono is always on offer and otherwise available for around 40 euros.

The Saphe Drive Mini is a bit more expensive. There is a small color display and two separate buttons for the hazard and speed camera reports; The package also includes two adhesive mounts. The power consumption is slightly higher due to the display, but the small device also has an integrated battery with a micro-USB charging port. Most of the time, the display is off – for example, a camera lens and a 50 km / h sign are only displayed in the event of an alarm.

In practice, both warner do well: Mount and forget, at least until the battery is empty. You wake up when you drive off, go to sleep again and ideally do not report the entire journey.

If the alarm goes off, the nervousness starts. What’s going on now Where and how much There is always a note on the smartphone, but it is well stowed away while driving. Depending on where you are currently traveling – for example on a motorway or country road – a short beep is sufficient. In the city, more information is helpful, which is why the small display of the Saphe Drive Mini was able to gain an extra point. Red light flashers, speed cameras and danger spots are shown separately.

In one case, the devices rang because a highway in a city ran over a red-light speed camera. There is therefore no real route-based warning, but rather a warning based on a radius – this also fits in with the fact that in most cases the direction of travel is also ignored, based on the motto “better warned once too often than too seldom”. The same applies to tunnels: We received a warning in front of a tunnel with several speed cameras, but not in the tunnel – due to a lack of GPS.

Incidentally, the database for Ooono and Saphe is identical, as we found out in random samples: Mobile speed cameras appeared more or less simultaneously on the map of both providers and also disappeared again. No wonder, after all, both providers in Germany also use the Blitzer.de database.

Paragraph 23 of the Highway Code is clear:

Anyone driving a vehicle may not operate or carry a technical device with them that is ready for operation, which is intended to indicate or disrupt traffic monitoring measures. This applies in particular to devices for disrupting or displaying speed measurements (radar warning or laser disruption devices). The corresponding device functions must not be used for other technical devices that, in addition to other purposes, can also be used to display or disrupt traffic monitoring measures.

Or in German: the hazard warning is permissible, the speed camera warning is not – at least not if the driver uses it. What co-drivers do is not regulated here. Ooono says:

In Germany you are in a legal gray area with the ooono traffic alarm, as the use of radar detectors is prohibited according to the StVO, but warnings of general danger spots are permitted. Anyone who has an active or operational device in the car is committing an administrative offense. “

One could well fill in articles longer than this to discuss the question of whether such devices are useful or morally objectionable. The fact is: The practical use of speed camera detectors is prohibited for drivers of cars, the sale, installation and use of partial functions are okay. Passengers are also allowed to use it. Electronic parking discs, on the other hand, are undisputedly practical and legal.

When looking at the devices, it is noticeable that both Ooono and Saphe did their job very well. The little warner is great to integrate into the car, simple, cheap and well thought out. The apps work well and leave no questions unanswered.

Anyone who likes minimalism is well served with Ooono. Those who prefer more information and who are often out and about in more built-up areas will be happy about the small display of the Saphe Drive Mini.