Bike locks are a pretty mundane tool: you use one because you have to. It's not about what kind of fancy toys it has or how it looks, it's strictly about function. How tough is it, how easy is it to open, and how versatile is it in terms of locking location. Those are the questions we traditionally ask ourselves when shopping for a lock, right?
Skylock aims to change the conversation, and radically - this Bluetooth-enabled lock is probably one of the most innovative things that could happen to the bike lock industry since, well, ever. Check it out.
The primary purpose of Skylock's Bluetooth connectivity, as you might guess, is controlling the locking mechanism. Skylock can be unlocked either by the proximity of your smartphone, or by switch in the smartphone control app. So yes, this is a bike lock with a battery, and no, it doesn't have a backup key or analog opening system. There are capacitive buttons you can use to pop open the lock, but that still requires it to be powered on. There's a USB port for charging it, but who wants to charge a bike lock? Even once in a while, that seems like a hassle.
That's why the Skylock is fitted with a freaking solar panel. No, this isn't a joke: a solar-powered bike lock is totally going to be a thing, assuming Skylock meets its $50,000 funding goal in the next 30 days. Skylock says the lock requires only one hour of direct sunlight to get one week of battery life, and that a full charge should last around a month. That means, basically, you need to ride your bike or have it sitting in sunlight an hour a week to keep the lock charged up. If you only use your bike occasionally, maybe once or twice a week, that might be a bit of challenge. But for those who commute or regularly ride their bikes for leisure, it'll be easy to keep the Skylock topped off, assuming you've got enough sunlight in your region.
Unlocking isn't the Skylock's only trick, though. Realizing that pretty much any lock can be hacked through with an angle grinder and a few minutes (or much less, depending), the Skylock includes a motion alert system. As long as you're within Bluetooth range of the lock, your smartphone will send you an alert if your bike or the lock is moved (you can even set the threshold). Granted, this probably isn't exactly useful if you're leaving your bike at a large group rack on a college campus overnight or are in a large office building (I doubt the signal would penetrate), but it does keep your bike safer when you're just popping into a restaurant or store.
The Skylock also uses this motion detection for safety purposes - if the lock detects an especially jarring movement, the crash detection feature engages and your smartphone app will provide you an option to contact a set list of persons or dial 911. The app also, of course, remembers where you parked your bike, which can be useful if you're in a major bike commuter area. The one thing Skylock really doesn't get into detail on is toughness - they say it's "military grade" and built to withstanding the toughest "breaking methods," but I've yet to see a bike lock that can stand up against a cordless angle grinder, which tends to be the tool of choice among high-end bike thieves.
So, how much will all this functionality cost you? A lot, frankly. Skylock will retail for $250, but a small group of initial backers can pre-order the product for $160 right now. The Skylock isn't expected to ship until early 2015.