This Bluetooth Bike Lock Brings Keyless Entry and Anti-Theft Notifications to Your Smartphone
If you haven’t yet decided how you feel about the Internet of things — if you’re unsure whether adding sensors and radios to everyday stuff will improve our lives in meaningful ways or just amount to a bunch of whizbang junk — here’s a perfect Rorschach test. When you look at this smartphone-connected bike lock, what do you see?
The Skylock, from Velo Labs, is a Bluetooth-equipped U-lock that automatically unlocks when you walk up to your bike. That might seem incredibly handy or completely absurd, depending on your outlook. To those who eagerly anticipate the small conveniences of a more connected world, the Skylock cleverly smooths out the annoyance of futzing with keys. To cynics, it will undoubtedly look like another solution in search of a problem. How much time do we waste futzing with keys, anyway?
The true killer feature, however, might not be for one single owner but for many. “We thought that a connected bike lock would really generate the next generation bike share platform,” says Jack Al-Kahwati, one of the lock’s inventors.
Velo was founded by Al-Kahwati and Gerardo Barroeta, former engineers at Boeing and Jawbone, respectively. The duo have deftly addressed many of the problems that would unequivocally make a connected bike lock dead on arrival. The lock powers itself up with a built-in solar cell, for example, mustering roughly a week of runtime for every hour of direct sunlight. It also includes a four-button capacitive pad, so you’ll be able to free your ride even if your smartphone is out of battery. It costs $250, though it’s currently going for a special preorder price of $159.
The keyless entry magic is only one of the features the company’s touting. Other smart lock functionality includes a theft alert system that pings you when your bike’s being jostled and crash detection which watches for accidents with the help of a built-in accelerometer. In the event of a wreck, Skylock will summon a push notification on your phone; if you don’t dismiss it after a few seconds, the app will call emergency responders to the scene. But these are just pieces of the product’s most ambitious feature.