Published in


My car disappeared, so I created PINGTAG

This is the story of PingTag, a printable tag with a QR code that people scan to reach you in case there is an emergency with your parked car, or when you lose a valuable item, without having to reveal their contact information with anyone.

A couple of days before Christmas holidays, I parked my car on a side street and went to the office to finish a couple of quick tasks.

I was only gone for 2 hours, but when I came back to pick it up, my car had disappeared!

I walked back and forth in the cold December weather, scanning all adjacent side streets in case I had forgotten where I parked it, but my car was nowhere to be found.

I called the police to report the car stolen, and after 7 attempts to get someone on the phone, I was finally able to talk to an officer who informed me that I had accidentally blocked someone’s driveway when I parked it earlier that day, and that the car had been towed.

The officer gave me the address of the towing company, which was closing in less than 30 minutes.

I called an Uber and rushed over, and I was able to get there 5 minutes before they closed.

“We just pulled into our garage,” the guy a the cash register said.

And then he charged me $368 to get it back. Retrieval fees, storage fees, police release fees, and a beefy parking ticket.

Standing in the garage of that towing company waiting to get my car back, I stared at hundreds of cars waiting to be picked up.

I heard someone sniffling next to me, and turned around to find an older lady emptying her belongings from her white Ford sedan. She didn’t have money to pay the towing fees, and they were going to sell her car at the auction.

That experience made me realize how scammy the business of towing is, and I wanted to do something to change that.

The following day, I was having dinner with a friend, sharing the story with him, and I told him that I would have happily paid the owner of that driveway $100 to avoid getting my car towed, and I would have probably moved it faster than the tow truck did.

It would have been a win/win, but there was no contact information on my car to help that owner get in touch with me, and I didn’t want to leave my phone number on my windshield for anyone to grab.

All I needed was for someone to be able to contact me when there is an emergency with my parked car, without having to reveal my contact information to them.

Without overthinking it, I sat down over the following 5 days and created an app that generates car tags with QR codes that owners can place on their rear view mirrors or dashboards, similar to a parking or disabled tag, and that someone can scan to message them in case of an emergency, without revealing their phone numbers to each other.

And since it’s a tag that people scan to ping you, I called it PINGTAG.

This is what a PINGTAG looks like
And this is what the tag looks like on a car

What happens when someone scans your PINGTAG?

A 2-minute video that shows what happens when someone scans a PINGTAG

When someone scans the QR code on your tag with a camera phone, a web page opens to allow him or her to choose the type of emergency being reported to you, and to include a note or a message that explains that emergency.

Once the message is submitted, you get an SMS instantly, so you can take proper action.

If the sender chose to receive replies from you, you can reply to that SMS to request more information. All conversations are anonymously relayed by PINGTAG, so both phone numbers are never revealed to each other.

And if you ever receive a false report, you can

This is what that report looks like

A sample PING

Messaging currently works in all countries and the tag can be printed in different sizes and formats, and in 87 different languages!

My hope is for PingTag to enable people to help each other protect their parked cars similar to how Waze helped them avoid hazards while driving them.

And PINGTAG is not just limited to cars!

The tag also enables you to protect anything you own: place it on your home door to be notified if there is a gas leak or smoke, on your dog’s collar to be reached if he runs away, on a backpack or luggage to be contacted if it is misplaced, and on a keychain or wallet to be returned if it is lost.

The use cases are endless.

It even comes with an option to generate a custom lock screen for your smartphone with your own emergency contact QR code.

You can designate multiple emergency contacts to a tag, so that all of them can be reached simultaneously during an emergency.

Try PINGTAG for free here, and enjoy peace of mind about your parked car and your valuable belongings.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Amir Khella

Amir Khella


Entrepreneur, product designer, and consultant. Helped 15 startups design+launch (5 acquired). Founder of Keynotopia and Augmentop. 100K+ customers.