Hello Chicago Cycling community!
A few months back I posted about a new high tech bike lock we were working on at Northwestern University. We launched it this Friday on Indiegogo.
If you think this is a good idea, please contribute to the campaign here: http://igg.me/at/haamlock/x/3479638
We would also just love your feedback! Please let us know what else we can do to improve upon the concept.
All the best,
Zeina & the HaamLock team
Also I am pretty sure Android doesn't support Bluetooth LE on anything but the most recent versions http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluetooth_low_energy#Status_on_Android. As many android users have problems upgrading (actually most), there is a huge segment of the market who can't even use this product, something around 50% of smart phone users.
On the idea: I think it's an interesting idea, but I echo some of the other concerns: rain, snow, sleet, salt... any of the variables that my $50 Kryptonite lock handles begrudgingly but consistently. If scale is reached and the price comes down to something comparable, I don't see large differences between this lock and others already on the market. There are also a few other projects out there working on GPS positioning for your bike (helios bars, bike spike).
On the design: Is there a way to add an LED light or alert that would clue users in to when it needs to be charged? I'd likely be the type that would forget until it's nearly dead. A light or smartphone alert would lessen the "surprise, it's dead" factor. A way to incorporate non-smartphone folks would be useful too.
Props for having the insight to do your market research here in the discussion forum. I would second the idea for incorporating the local, independent Chicago Stolen Bike Registry into the named suite of Big Media.
As a fan of both start-ups and technological widgets, I think that bike theft is one problem best solved by smart behavior and mechanical tools instead. Any person, young or old, who has had a bike stolen will tell you that both the knowledge and the lock must be acquired, but neither is hard to attain.
There are a dozen variables that determine whether or not your bike will get stolen, and the type of lock you use, though critical, is just one. Plus, consider "an ounce of prevention..." Common sense dictates that tracking down your bike from a thief - no matter how many cool apps you can employ - is by far the lesser alternative to not having it stolen in the first place.
I don't imagine that this product would be particularly durable in either the bike lane or the marketplace. Our gear takes a severe beating with frequent use and while smart phone and app technology are popular today, who's to say this product won't be obsolete in a few years.
BUT! Kudos for venturing into the innovative business end of cycling. Keep at it. As mentioned previously in this thread: consider the most urgent problems. (A method for states to easily adopt increased pedestrian/bike knowledge into drivers' license exams?) We'll look to you for solutions.
Hot off the press-- apropos electronic locking systems:
Good luck on the lock, but I'm not the target audience, either. I have a dumb phone, and don't want access to my bike depending on my remembering to charge something.