In a world in which all formerly dumb objects are currently being outfitted with microprocessors, accelerometers, and wireless transmitters, it seems it was only a matter of time before someone decided to introduce a smart lock designed to keep your bike from getting stolen.
But not all those new smart bike locks have been designed by former Boeing and Jawbone engineers, you know, the kind of people who will make something both beautiful and functional that actually works really well. And that’s exactly what the guys at Velo Labs did.
If the Velo name sounds familiar, it’s probably because we’ve covered these guys before. Once upon a time, they built a smart electric bike prototype that John Biggs spotted at Maker Faire a few years ago. That bike was supposed to provide haptic feedback to avoid collisions and help map out your route via smartphone, but never came to pass.
Instead they decided to build the next best thing — a really awesome smart lock that will keep your dumb bike from getting stolen.
So what makes Skylock different? For one thing, the lock has a rugged, dual-lock system to deter thieves. Thanks to an accelerometer embedded in the device, it also has a theft alert system to let bike owners know if someone’s been messing with the lock for an extended period of time.
The same accelerometer can be used while the bike is in motion to detect if the rider has been in an accident. Thanks to Bluetooth Low Energy and WiFi, the bike can detect and pair with a bicyclist’s phone while riding and message friends or emergency responders in case of an accident.
And while the lock is “smart,” it doesn’t rely on batteries that need to be constantly recharged to make them work. That’s because it has a solar panel collecting energy to make sure it will work continuously. In fact, just one hour of sunlight should be enough power to last through an entire month of usage.
Finally, the Skylock will enable users to participate in bike-sharing, in which they can lend out their bikes and allow others to unlock them. They will even be able to charge for that service, and set prices based on demand and location.
While that’s all very exciting, the Skylock isn’t quite available yet. In order to raise money for the production of the lock, Velo Labs is running a crowdfunding campaign on its website. The company expects the lock to retail for $249 (which is pretty expensive), but is making it available to early backers for $159 (which is a little better).