Lenovo expects to release laptops to the Australian market with built-in disabling technology by June this year. Users will be able to phone their laptop in order to stop it from being used.
Called SMS Disable, it's based on 3G technology and only requires that the laptop has a 3G radio installed and that users are able to send an SMS from their mobile phone. The laptop's 3G radio will pick up the SMS once the laptop is switched on (you can send the SMS even if the laptop is switched off, in the same way you send an SMS to a mobile phone that's switch off) and immediately put it into lockdown mode. The lockdown will occur at the BIOS level, essentially rendering the unit useless. The thief will see a message on the screen telling them that the laptop has been disabled. If the laptop is retrieved, another SMS can be sent to the laptop in order to enable it.
Lenovo will introduce the SMS Disable capability in Australia in its 3G-enabled ThinkPad range of laptops, and a subscription service won't be required. The company has no plans to bring the technology to the netbook segment and its popular IdeaPad S10 notebook. Lenovo's S10e netbooks will rely on RFID technology as an anti-theft and tracking measure.
To combat office pranks, Lenovo's Matthew Kohut told PC World Australia the technology will work only with a phone that is authenticated with the laptop. The process will be similar to the way a Bluetooth device is paired with a laptop. This means that only the authenticated phone will be able to disable the laptop, so you'll be out of luck if you lose your laptop and phone at the same time. The user can select the text that will disable and enable the device.