Kickstarter Q&A: Bitlock’s Mehrdad Majzoobi Brings Bluetooth to Bike Locks

by Jennifer Elias | October 31, 2013

portrait

Created by San Francisco-based Mesh Motion, BitLock can lock, unlock and enable bike sharing from a smartphone. With two more weeks left of fundraising, Founder Mehrdad Majzoobi gives an inside look at BitLock and his ideas of innovating bike sharing.

Can you give us a brief rundown of how BitLock works?

BitLock is a wireless bike lock and it replaces your key with your phone using Bluetooth. You just walk up to your bike and press the BitLock button and it automatically checks your credentials and opens the lock. It recognizes you when you’re within three feet of it. Besides the convenience factor, you can have access with other people. You can give permission to anyone to unlock BitLock and you can tag the bike location so you can tell your friend where your bike is.

Won’t the repeated Bluetooth usage drain the phone and locks’s battery?

Bluetooth 4.0 is optimized for low-power so it probably uses one second of data just when you touch the lock. We used a motor that uses a fraction of a second because the movement of the disc is so minimal. Locking is only 90 degrees, so since it’s minimal, the motor is not consuming much power. Everything is in sleep mode until then.

The lock battery can last five years—that is a pretty long battery life.

Yeah, we are using these special kinds of lithium battery that has a very small usage rate. It has the highest amount of energy density. So combining all of these factors, the battery life is extended.

How long did it take you to create this?

I’ve been working on it full-time for about one year, so the design process has been very time-consuming. There are so many factors to take into account. We want to make sure the battery lasts a long time.

What’s the biggest donation you’ve received so far?

Our highest donations on Kickstarter have been $150, and for that, backers gett a BitLock with a customizable color.

If funded, how much will one BitLock cost?

It will retail for $139.

What inspired you to create BitLock and enable people to start their own bike sharing programs?

I’m an avid biker and used to commute to school every day. The inspiration came more from the fact that we can use our phones as keys and share access with others. It has a wide range of application, so why not bikes?

In your Kickstarter video, you mention your vision for a bike sharing ecology. Can you elaborate on this?

You can share access to your house, car or bike. For bike sharing, BitLock is a simple solution and makes it easier for communities to set up. With the Bay Area bike share program, biking stations cost a lot of money. It costs $4,000 to $5,000 per bike. This could essentially be a lower-cost alternative. We would like to keep the market and application open and we would like people to decide if it’s the right decision for them or not. We want to make it an inclusive, open platform.

There’s a similar wireless lock, called Lock 8, that hit Kickstarter just a few days ago. Have you seen it and, if so, what do you think of it?

Yes, Lock 8 has a cellular data connection and built-in GPS, for a monthly subscription fee. It makes sense for people who maybe want to run a for-profit bike sharing program. But, with BitLock, there’s no subscription and our user interface is very fluid. BitLock is a very minimal design. It’s designed to be good for on-the-go and we’ve focus a lot on user experience. Lock 8 also limits sharing to five people, but with BitLock there’s no limit.

Are there any future features you’d like to include in BitLock?

We have received a lot of feedback from our Kickstarter backers so we added a backup lock where you can unlock it by punching in a combination code with the two buttons on the lock if the phone dies. We also took out the GPS and data connection.

 

Previous post:

Next post: