Skylock bike lock uses the power of the sun to thwart thieves and connect to riders
By Ben Coxworth
May 20, 2014
Last October we told you about the Bitlock, a smartphone-paired bicycle lock that lets users locate their bike on a map, lend it to other people, and unlock it simply by walking up to it. Well, Velo Labs' just-announced Skylock does all those same things – plus it has a solar-powered battery that "never" needs to be plugged in to charge, and it checks if you're OK when you crash.
Skylock works with a custom app on iOS and Android mobile devices, via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. That app lets users disengage the lock by pressing an on-screen button, so no physical key is necessary. They can also grant access to friends who wish to borrow their bike, allowing their app-running smartphones to also unlock the Skylock. A map on the app shows those people where the bike is currently parked.
Should users not want to bother pulling out their smartphone, the lock is additionally able to sense the proximity of the phone once it gets within range, and will automatically unlock itself as the user approaches. Likewise, it will lock again as they walk away from it.
If the user's phone battery dies (or if they simply don't have their phone with them), the Skylock can still be locked and unlocked by entering a numerical code on its capacitive touch buttons. The lock's battery can be charged via USB, although the built-in solar panel reportedly requires just one hour of exposure to sunlight to deliver enough of a charge to provide one week's worth of use. Therefore, if the lock gets at least one hour of sunlight per week, it should theoretically never need to be manually charged.
The Skylock also features an integrated accelerometer, which allows it to do two things.
First, it detects when severe crash-like impacts have occurred. When this happens, the app asks the user if they're all right. If they don't respond within a set amount of time, it then automatically contacts emergency responders to let them know that an accident may have occurred at the user's present location.
Secondly, it detects extended movement of the Skylock while it's being used to secure the bike – the kind of movement that might be caused by would-be bike thieves. In this case, it contacts the user, letting them know what's up.
Velo Labs is currently taking pre-orders to finance commercial production of the Skylock, which is scheduled to start shipping early next year. You can get one for US$159, assuming the company reaches its $50,000 funding goal – the planned retail price is $249.
More information is available in the video below.
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