17
Oct
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As long as bicycles have existed, those who wish to steal said bicycles have found new and inventive ways to get around whatever locking mechanisms are put in place to keep them safe. As a result, lock manufacturers have to come up with new ways to ensure their products do what they're supposed to: keep the locked bike from being stolen. Among all the different designs, the U-style lock has widely been adopted as the best and overall strongest.

Of course, all bike locks have a common issue: the lock itself. Not only are locks pick-able, but keys can be lost (or stolen), essentially making the lock itself useless. Enter new Kickstarter project BitLock that looks to change the way bike locks work. In short, BitLock wants you to ditch keys and start unlocking your bike with something that's far less likely to ever leave your side: your phone.

In the same way that Lockitron wants to modernized home locking systems, BitLock looks to bring many new and innovative features to bicycle protection. As shown in the above video, BitLock will use your Bluetooth-connected cell phone as proximity sensor and allow you to unlock it with the press of a button. While this is what I feel is the core feature of BitLock, it has a lot more to offer – like a simple and easy way to share your bike with friends.

The BitLock app will allow users to control who has access to their bike (and when), and allows those privileges to be revoked at any given moment. It will also log the location of the bike every time it's locked/unlocked, so you always know where your wheels are. At the current time, the app is compatible with the iPhone 4 and above, as well as a handful of modern Android devices: Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, Note II, Note 3; HTC One, Droid DNA, EVO (assuming this is the EVO LTE, though the BitLock page doesn't specify); Motorola Droid RAZR/MAXX/M, Moto X; and the Nexus 4 and upcoming 5. It's probably safe to assume that support for more devices will be coming as the project progresses, but that's definitely a good start as it covers the bulk of popular devices right out of the gate.

The app doesn't just stop at lock functionality, either – it also tracks valuable data normally found within cyclometers or fitness tracking apps, including distance traveled, average speed, total moving time, elevation, estimated caloric burn, and even the amount of CO2 emissions saved from cycling instead of driving a vehicle. This essentially eliminates the need for multiple applications. One app that controls basically all of your biking needs – that's something I can get behind.

Of course, the lock's strength is also a concern for many users – what's the point in having a fancy lock if it can just be hacked off easily? According to the Kickstarter page, BitLock is both hacksaw- and bolt cutter-proof, as it's made from "reinforced, heat-treated, and cut-resistant steel." All the security isn't just found in the metal, either – the app uses bank-level encryption to ensure it's not something that can easily be "hacked" from another Bluetooth device.

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Any time something is modernized and digital tools come into play, there's another concern: battery life. According to the BitLock crew, the battery inside the lock can last an astounding five years without ever having to be replaced. That's pretty incredible.

Speaking of battery, should your phone's battery die (or worse, the device be lost or stolen), BitLock generates a 16-digit binary code (which happens when the lock is initially set up) that can be used to unlock the device via a second button. You can also borrow someone else's phone, log into your BitLock account, and unlock the unit that way. So you're not completely out of luck.

Currently BitLock has received nearly $45,000 of its $120,000 goal, but it still has 27 days to go. There are, of course, several different pledge levels, but if you want to ensure a BitLock for yourself, it'll set you back $99. The units are expected to ship in July of '14 should the project get all its funding. For more information or to donate to the project, check out the Kickstarter page.

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • Kevin B

    This fixes a problem that doesn't exist.

    • sssgadget

      Suckers born every minute.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Interesting perspective. Is that how you feel about all Bluetooth accessories?

      • Dheeraj

        I'm sure he doesn't. I really don't understand why I would spend $100 on this, while I can get a very very good one for less than half the price. Why pay more while you can just keep your keys safe? And as for the app, there are a bunch of others that do activity tracking.

      • RajivSK

        There's absolutely no reason to assume that's his stance on all Bluetooth accessories. Just as there is no reason to replace something cheap, simple and effective with something expensive and complicated.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

          How did I assume that by asking a question?

          • SetiroN

            by being supponent and making a condescending question.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

            That was a legit question. I could make the argument that most Bluetooth devices "fix a problem that doesn't exist" because BT is inherently about convenience in my opinion. It wasn't my intention to sound condescending.

          • SetiroN

            Fair enough, it just didn't sound like that.

      • SetiroN

        How does something that's supposed to replace something that already perfectly works compare to every other bluetooth accessory - that usually aim at doing something new?

        This thing does exactly what Kevin said: it fixes a problem that doesn't exist, i.e. having to carry a key around.

        • Fifth313ment

          I agree SetiroN, this would only be appealing if you had all of your keys in an NFC app or on your phone or something. Maybe in the future then this would be relevant and worth it.

          5th

          • akshay7394

            Unless you just cycled everywhere....and lived in your cycle...

          • Steve Freeman

            Even then...$20 combination lock.

    • Christopher Bement

      But they're hacksaw resistant.

    • toponagil

      That can be said about ANY modern technology.

      • wtf

        Really? What would you replace the the internet with?

        • RitishOemraw

          Actual cats

  • http://kennydude.me/ Joe Simpson

    The problem with bike locks is you can cut them off.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      "According to the Kickstarter page, BitLock is both hacksaw- and bolt cutter-proof, as it's made from 'reinforced, heat-treated, and cut-resistant steel.'"

      • psychoace

        I saw a post somewhere that a small car jack is what people use to break U-Locks

      • Dheeraj

        I'm an engineer, and I've worked with heat-treated steel. It's hacksaw *resistant*, not hacksaw-proof. Big difference. A hacksaw can chew through 12mm steel in minutes. Further, the weak link lies in the area where the lock engages and disengages, and it's easier to smash it open rather than to cut it.

      • DaveTea

        Worked in the bike industry as a buyer for years and dealt with makers of the best bike locks you can buy. Even the best u-locks can be broken pretty easy. Several methods. A long pipe..jack..etc. If you just want the components you can cut through a frame tube in seconds. Frankly the best you can do is make your bike harder to steal than the one next to it. Or just ride a beater.

        • Cerberus_tm

          In Holland, we combine the two: everybody—at least in cities—has really old but sturdy bikes, and several locks. Then it's hoping that the cost:reward ratio of at least one of the 1000 bikes within a radius of 10 metres is lower for the thief.

      • howardbamber

        Oh it must be true then... RESISTANT...? Thats not cut proof. Just means you a large pair of cutters or a petrol powered grinder, which is what pple use who go after th email type of bikes this lock will be on

      • Chris Seward

        If you want to read a long but well written piece about how false those "bolt-cutter proof" statements can be, check this out: http://thesweethome.com/reviews/best-bike-lock/ It includes a few interesting interviews with bike thieves, some of their common methods, and comparisons of the surprisingly short amounts of time required to break some of the strongest locks on the market.

      • mgamerz

        It's made of the same material other quality U-locks are made of. no bike lock will ever stop a dedicated thief and this is no different.

  • Drooblz

    They should just call it BitLocker. I'm sure Microsoft would just let that one slide.

  • ChainsawCharlie

    Cool idea! How about something tad bigger for my scooter?

  • jgarrido

    No NFC option?

  • EllaBella

    Walmart sells 12mm U locks for $15.

    This needs to have a U that is at least 18mm, which at bike shops is in the upper-end of quality/safety/liability coverage from the manufacturer and costs $80.

  • mustbepbs

    This looks even less safe than traditional bike locks.

    • David Thoren

      It seems that every time a project like this surfaces, be it physical lock or some banking service or other security service, someone invariably comes along and just says something to the effect of "This is less secure than the old way" without providing details as to HOW it is less safe.
      So, do you have any details that would cause this to be less safe than a lock that uses a physical key?

      The tools to hack an electronic lock are quite a bit more sophisticated than the ones used to break traditional key lock mechanisms, not to mention the fact that it would require breaking known secure encryption schemes. Lockpicks are much easier to come across, as are torches, not to mention jacks, bolt cutters, and saws of various types.

      • mustbepbs

        I said LOOKS, not IS. Electronic locks seems more vulnerable, that's all.

      • Dheeraj

        1. This lock is susceptible to hacking. The "old way" is hack-proof.
        2. Theoretically, someone can unlock and ride away while you're three feet within the bike. The "old way" makes this impossible.
        3. This costs $100. The "old way" gives you the same lock quality at half the price.

        No one picks bike locks, they smash them open. This lock is as vulnerable to jacks, blot cuttters and saws as the "old way" is.

        Is that enough for you?

      • howardbamber

        They are the same. It's a Shackle lock.

  • DrinkinGinNJoking

    for kicks: add a fake tubular key lock on one end, and generic branding

  • Leif Sikorski

    Well, I like the idea because of the sharing possibilities with friends but what if your phone gets stolen, dies or you simply run out of battery. It needs some kind of backup mechanism with an oldschool key.

    • Andrew

      The article mentions that it has a backup mechanism.

  • Angel

    I give it a week after launch until someone with a rooted phone hacks it lol

  • SxperiaS

    Well if they steal your phone and you have no one nearby that can be a little bad, next they will come with one for the phone i suppose :D

  • howardbamber

    Shackle locks are so easy to get open, ie shims down the vertical bars. Plus it's got a backdoor. Look on utube to see how easy conventional ones are to open.This would need a dead bolt to be secure.

  • SetiroN

    Yeah, this $100, one-side locking flimsy gimmick is definitely going to replace/be suggested over my kryptonite new york that's twice as thick, costs less and requires both legs to be cut.

    Angle grinders or even extensible bolt cutters will cut through that in no time.

  • HopelesslyFaithful

    dumb idea...i would say more people know how to hack today than pick locks...i would think this is more unsafe :/ Picking isn't that hard either considering that almost no locks use decent pins and all the safety measures. Most can just be jiggled open -_-

  • Isn350

    NFC batter no need to charge

  • sguyx

    what about raining? or snowing and -20 ºC outside?

  • Steve Freeman

    "Of course, all bike locks have a common issue: the lock itself. Not only are locks pick-able, but keys can be lost (or stolen), essentially making the lock itself useless." So, apparently you've never heard of combination locks?

  • Cerberus_tm

    This sounds attractive in its convenience, but it would mean the lock costs more than the average bike here is worth. So you would have to have a pretty expensive bike to make it worth your while. And then I would get a thicker lock.

    Another concern is: what if it crashes, breaks, rusts, or is otherwise damaged? Then you will have to walk home and cut it open later—and a progressive problem could very well be invisible, so you would only find out when it's too late. A mini-computer seems more vulnerable than a normal locking mechanism, and those already get stiff and quirky over time.

  • Sokudoningyou

    I thought about it, then realized I already have a mini Abus u-lock and a $200 Tigr, so this would be completely overkill and useless. At least the Tigr has the benefit of not looking like a conventional lock (especially when one had covered it in dragon duct tape as I have). This seems more like "look what ELSE we can do with your phone that wasn't necessary!"

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