BitLock is a smart lock for your bike that uses Bluetooth LE/4.0 to do away with physical keys — allowing you to lock and unlock your ride based on the proximity of your smartphone to your bike (or directly within the app). The device exists in prototype form only for now, as its San Francisco-based makers are seeking $120,000 on Kickstarter to go into production.
As with similar smart lock concepts for the home — such as Lockitron — there are more advantages to ditching metal keys and going for software than having one less key to carry around with you: BitLock’s system means you can tap into the sharing economy by sharing access to your bike with others, provisioning and revoking digital keys as you see fit.
The app will also let you view the location where you last locked up your bike on a map (based on recording your smartphone’s GPS at the time), and get maps of your rides and activity data — such as average speed, distance pedalled and estimated calories burnt. Bundling lots of handy functions in one.
Best of all: BitLock’s battery life is apparently good for five years’ average use (based on five lock/unlock operations per day), thanks to the low-energy requirements of Bluetooth 4.0 and a Lithium thionyl chloride (Li-SOCl 2) battery. In London at least, it’s far more likely that your bike will get lifted long before the battery runs out.
On the theft/security front, BitLock’s makers claim the lock’s reinforced, heat-treated and cut-resistant steel “cannot be defeated using any kind of bolt cutter or hacksaw”. While the digital keys are covered by banking-grade encryption. The lock is also designed to resist the weather, with internal electronics sealed and waterproofed and able to operate “under an extended temperature range”.
What about if you lose your phone? Access to your bike can be disabled by resetting your account password. And if you want to unlock your bike when you’re without your phone (or if its battery has run out) BitLock has a couple of contingencies: one being a 16 digit binary code (that can be generated when you register the lock) to use to unlock the device. “Write down the code on a piece of paper, and keep it in your wallet,” they suggest.
Or there’s the cloud route — meaning you’ll just need to borrow someone else’s smartphone or use another Bluetooth 4.0 device and then log into your BitLock account to be able to unlock your bike.
Current devices compatible with BitLock include the iPhone 4S (or newer) on the iPhone side, and on Android there’s a clutch of compatible phones including the Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, Note 2 & Note 3; the HTC One; Google’s Nexus 4 & 5; and Motorola Moto X (and others). Expect more to be added to that list by the time BitLock makes it to market — with close to a year to wait til shipping date — assuming it hits its funding goal.
BitLock looks to be on track to hit its funding goal — although it’s still a ways off, it’s raised close to $41,000+ of the $120k target with 28 days left to run on the campaign.
How much is BitLock going to set you back? There’s a handful of early bird $79 Kickstarter pledge levels left to get a lock, with an estimated shipping date of July 2014. Once those are gone the price rises to $99.