Toss your bike key with BitLock Bluetooth lock

Just walk up to your bike, push a button, and it's unlocked. If you want to share your wheels, an app gives others access.

BitLock
BitLock

Hauling a u-lock around is bad enough, and keeping track of its key can also be a headache. Is there a better solution?

One approach is BitLock, a keyless lock controlled by your smartphone that lets you set up a public or private bike-sharing network.

Developed by San Francisco startup Mesh Motion, BitLock launched Tuesday with a Kickstarter campaign aimed at raising $120,000.

When you're within a few feet of BitLock, the Bluetooth link senses your iOS or Android smartphone and lets you unlock your bike with the push of a button.

To lock it, you press the button again.

That's easy enough, but BitLock's networking capabilities make it interesting.

With the BitLock app, you can give friends or strangers access to your bike if you want to share it, and you can also add more bikes to the network. The lock uses phone GPS to map its location, so you'll always know where the bike is parked.

Meanwhile, the app will map your rides and track calories burned, miles traveled, and CO2 saved by biking.

"BitLock can create a new genre of bike-share system mostly suited for smaller communities that cannot afford expensive bike-share systems," BitLock creator Mehrdad Majzoobi tells CNET.

"I realized there are so many things around us that are not efficiently used. Cities invest millions of dollars in station-based bike-sharing systems, while there are so many other bikes on the street locked up to normal racks. Why can't we just pick a bike from anywhere and just ride?

"I believe the concept of access sharing enabled by technology is a new [awakening] that can transform our civilization far greater than the way computers changed our society during the last few decades," he adds.

The lock itself is weather-resistant, uses online banking encryption, and has a five-year battery life. If your phone battery dies, however, you won't be able to unlock your bike -- unless you can borrow someone else's phone, install the app, and unlock it with that.

BitLock would retail at $140, but Kickstarter backers can get it for $79 and up. Check out the details here.

What do you think? Would you invest in a smart bike lock?

 

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