Any invention that will help keep my bike safe immediately gets my attention. Sure, Kryptonite locks are all well and good, but they’re not foolproof and I’m always scared about losing the key. It was only a matter of time in this age of smartphones and smartwatches that someone would come up with a smart bike lock.
BitLock uses Bluetooth technology so riders can lock and unlock their bikes with their smartphones. Bitlock’s keyless system connects to a user’s smartphone and ascertains proximity so a user can simply press a button on the Bitlock to lock or unlock it without even taking the smartphone from a pocket or purse. Users can also use the smartphone application to lock or unlock Bitlock if they prefer.
The system not only keeps bikes safe, but enables smartphone users to mark where they parked their bikes, map their rides, keep track of miles ridden and calories burned, and calculate the amount of carbon dioxide users avoided putting into the air. Users can also set up and share a profile for their bikes, effectively creating a bike-share community to spread the biking love. Since bikers can’t play that game of stepping on the gas just as someone’s reaching for the car door handle, Bitlock users can deny (or add) permissions at any time, in case a friend suddenly proves unworthy of sharing a bike.
Bitlock’s steel design is very similar to that of a Kryptonite U-lock. It’s cut-resistant, which means someone can’t saw, hack, or bolt-cut through it. Its Lithium thionyl chloride battery lasts approximately five years (that’s about 10,000 locks and unlocks), and the system alerts users via their smartphones when the battery needs replacing. The digital “lock” uses the same type of encryption that banks use. If you’re like me, you’re wondering what happens if you lose your phone or if you don’t have it on you when you want to ride your bike. In the case of the former, users can reset their passwords, and in the case of the latter, a user could borrow a friend’s smartphone or use a 16-digit code generated when the lock is first generated.
San Francisco company Mesh Motion Inc. is currently running a Bitlock Kickstarter to fund the project. With 24 days left, the project is just over halfway to its $120,000 goal. Backers who fund the project with a $79 pledge will receive a Bitlock, $55 off the eventual retail price of $140 (the pre-order price will be $129 after the Kickstarter ends). Mesh Motion Inc. founder Mehrded Majboozi made his first home security device in high school and for years has been interested in using smartphones instead of locks and keys and in promoting shared access to all kinds of objects. Mesh Motion has just finished (but not tested) Bitlock’s iPhone app and is in the process of developing an app for Android. The Kickstarter page offers additional videos and specifications for the system.
I love the idea of a keyless bike and a bike-share system among friends. In fact, Bitlock may be one of the more compelling reasons I can think of to get a smartphone. I just wish Bitlock also played Queen’s “Bicycle Race” every time a user unlocked it. Maybe that option will come with the customizable model.