We connect everything to our phones: accessories, refrigerators, health trackers and even payment cards. Joining that list today is a new bicycle lock, of all things, that’s capable of alerting users when their lock is being tampered with, or even when there’s an emergency. Built by ex-Boeing and Jawbone engineers, Skylock is a new device based on the familiar U-shaped locks so many cyclists rely on to keep thieves at bay. But instead of just being a hunk of durable metal, Skylock, built by Velo Labs, has capabilities beyond your traditional bike lock. For one, it uses a new proprietary dual locking design that promises to be twice as safe as a traditional u-lock, and it can be unlocked right from your phone.
Using Bluetooth Low-Energy, Wi-Fi and an accelerometer, Skylock is much more than meets the eye. Through an app on your phone, the device uses its sensors for a theft alert system, and will send notifications to your device when someone so much as breathes on Skylock. In the video (below), you simply log Skylock into a local Wi-Fi network, and it’ll send you alerts; as an alternative, alerts can also be sent via Bluetooth, so long as you’re in close range. But that’s just the tip of what Skylock can do.
While connected through Bluetooth, the lock is also capable of determining when a cyclist has been in an accident. If Skylock detects a strong impact, a user will be pinged with a notification to see if they’re safe. If a user doesn’t respond within a pre-determined set of time, Skylock will automatically alert emergency contacts. It’s a nice idea—but hopefully it doesn’t lead to some false emergencies, like if a rider forgets to acknowledge a notification, or Skylock just mistakes an impact for something unrelated to an accident.
The lock itself is equipped with a rechargeable solar battery that only needs an hour of sunlight to provide enough power for an entire week; a fully charged battery is estimated to last an entire month, executives said.
“As a former engineer at Boeing, I have spent years working on tanks, helicopters and aircrafts, and while these forms of transportation have made huge leaps in safety and connectivity, the bike is still stuck in the 19th century,” said Velo Labs co-founder Jack Al-Kahwati. “We wanted to take on the challenge of bringing cycling into the future.”
Starting today, a crowd funding campaign has begun for Skylock, with units expected to ship in early 2015. During the campaign, the Skylock will start at $159, though the price will go up to $249 when it hits retail. As a bonus, folks who buy the lock will receive $10 off the order good for up to 16 referred customers. In addition to its theft and emergency features, Skylock also has a community-driven bike sharing aspect to it, allowing users to lend out their bike while keeping track of it through the Skylock app. If you’re a big cyclist, and want a futuristic lock that does more, give Skylock a look.