The future of the bike lock is being developed in Whitehorse by Gord Duncan. The TEO lock has no physical key, but instead relies on a smartphone to perform locking and unlocking duties. Duncan came up with the concept, and has been working with others to get prototype locks into production.
“We chose to enter the market with the padlock, because we really wanted to get this part right,” said Duncan, in a phone interview with Canadian Cycling Magazine. “We didn’t want to muddy the waters by trying to answer different questions for different markets.”
Although the lock only exists in a padlock form now, cyclists who use cables or chains to lock up their rides can make use of a TEO lock. Those looking for TEO’s take on a U-lock should rest assured that is part of the planned development of the lock.
“To be in [the bike] market, you also need to be rugged, weather resistant. The demands on a bike lock are a padlock and then some,” said Duncan, who indicated a cable with a built-in lock could also be in the cards. Without the need for a key, there’s greater flexibility in design.
To help develop a lock that can stand up in the face of the most demanding conditions, TEO is working with a company called Heliox, which specializes in making equipment for military personnel.
The design needs to be waterproof, and of course, secure.
TEO is presently testing multiple ways of locking and unlocking to evaluate what methods will be most secure. One option is to pair a device with the lock, and transmit a signal from a particular phone to a paired lock. The other alternative is to store lock codes in the cloud, moving away from the need to have the phone broadcast the unlocking signal directly.
At present, TEO is running a kickstarter campaign to generate funds and feedback on their work so far. Contributors can select to have a TEO lock sent as a reward for their funding commitment.
Duncan also notes that the technology scales well, so the core concept could be adapted into bike share programs in the future.