Most of us don’t go anywhere without our smartphone. Its’ always in our pocket, in our bag, always within reach. It already acts as our camera, calculator, GPS, news source, and game system, what if it could do even more? What if it could replace your key ring too?
BitLock, created by Mesh Motion Inc in San Francisco, turns your Smartphone into a bike lock key. A working prototype of the system was revealed on October the 15th, along with a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project. They’ve already reached their goal and expect to be shipping production units in July 2014.
The lock itself connects to a paired iOS or Android device through Bluetooth. The BitLock app ensures that only your phone can control your lock. A proximity sensor in the lock detects your Smartphone, allowing it to be unlocked only when the device is less than three feet away. Simply press the button on the lock again to secure it. Users can also remotely lock and unlock the device straight through the app.
GPS data is saved each time you use the lock, so you can view where you last parked your bike, and share your location with family and friends. It’s possible to sign up multiple user profiles and groups on a single lock, allowing other trusted Bitlock users to unlock your bike and borrow it, if you allow. People you’ve given permission to can also see where you locked up, making connecting with your cyclists friends even easier.
The app also includes an activity monitor, providing statistics on how many miles you rode, how many calories you burned, and the amount of CO2 emissions saved by riding your bike instead of driving.
The cut-resistant, waterproof steel lock’s encryption, which is the same that online banking systems use, also provides a Back-up key by generating a 16 digit binary code when you register the lock. The lock is powered by a single non-rechargeable lithium-thionyl chloride battery which is wired to last up to 5 years (about 10,000 locks/unlocks). The estimated retail price is $129 and the app will be free for download on iTunes or Google Play.
It’s a great idea, and if everything functions smoothly it seems it could make the process of locking a bike a lot easier, but I do see potential problems. If your phone is lost or stolen, there’s a possibility that a savvy thief can now get your bike as well. I’m also concerned about the waterproofing and longevity of the lock. We get downright nasty weather here in New England, and my bike lock is no stranger to it. Can a bluetooth enabled lock full of electronics make it through the winter?
We always recommend bringing your bike in or keeping out of theft prone areas when possible, and a we’re partial to the folding bike as a great way to do this. It can make bike sharing easier too, since your bike can be easily carried in cars, trains, and buses. Of course we all need a lock some time, so at least there are advancements being made with bike lock technology. It should be interesting to see how the BitLock fares in the real world!