Skylock Introduces Us To The Idiotic Side Of The Internet Of Things
Longtime readers of Irregular Times know that, as card carrying tree-huggers, we are big supporters of bicycling as an alternative to driving a car. Even we must admit however, that there are downsides to a bike-centered lifestyle.
Take, for example the keys that fit into traditional bike locks. They’re bulky and heavy, coming in at at least three quarters of an inch long, not quite a tenth of an inch thick, and perhaps two whole ounces. What a burden! What’s more, traditional bike locks come with two keys to keep track of – one to carry with you, and a backup in case you lose the first. So many keys are confusing and add clutter to our lives!
What is a bicyclist to do?
Have no fear, intrepid peddler. We are living in the dawning of the age of the Internet of Things (which was originally called the Internet of Stuff). So, now you can just add an Internet Thing to your bicycle, and all the muss and fuss will be taken care of for you.
Whereas the traditional, old school bike lock system came along with a big, heavy two-ounce key that you had to slip into your pocket or onto your key ring, with a backup just in case, with the new Internet-connected bike lock named Skylock, you don’t need a key at all! You just need a smartphone, with a special app that unlocks the Skylock. That smartphone is about 50 times bulkier and heavier than a traditional bike lock key… which doesn’t really feel so good in your pocket if you’re pedaling a bike, but hey… you don’t need a key!
Instead of having to worry about a key to carry and its spare, with Skylock, you have just the one smartphone, so that, if you lose the smartphone… well, um… you could always call a friend and ask to borrow a smartphone, except… well, um… your phone is missing, but you could always just hop on your bike to see where you might have left your smartphone, except… well, um… your bike won’t move, because it’s all locked up.
Oh dear. All of a sudden, the convenience of the Internet of Things doesn’t seem so convenient.
Skylock seems like one of those products that’s a piece of engineering in search of a rationale. I’ve never met a bicyclist who has expressed a burning desire for a lock that is connected to the Internet. However, I have met many young startup enthusiasts who have been searching for a new way to embed communications chips in ordinary objects in order to make a fortune.
Bicyclists like to go the distance, taking their wheels out into the countryside, up hills and down into valleys. In other words, bicyclists taking a road trip are rather likely to end up in places where cell coverage isn’t strong, and where there aren’t many easily available electronic plugs for recharging a smartphone. Its nice that Skylock comes with a little solar panel to keep it charged, but it still won’t work unless it’s paired with a smartphone, so bicyclists using the Skylock are not only forced to take a smartphone with them everywhere they go, but they will become stranded if their smartphones run out of power. If bicyclists should happen to lock up their bicycles in one of those areas where cell service isn’t strong, well, they’ll be out of luck then too.
On the upside, Skylock will, using its nifty Internet Of Things sensors and mobile connectivity, notify your social media friends if you should get into an accident, such as getting hit by a car, or riding off the edge of a cliff… unless, that is, the electronic components of the Skylock happen to get damaged in the accident. So, Skylock will really only send alerts to your friends if you have relatively harmless little wipeouts while on the road – the kind that don’t require medical attention, but would be embarrassing if your friends found out about them.
Also, Skylock can make your bike ownership a social thing, so that you can just give your friends your Skylock password to let them ride your bike whenever they want, just by walking up to your bike, and clicking on the app to disable your lock. This, Skylock insiders tell us, does not make your bicycle at all vulnerable to theft by hackers, because of… you know… stuff. I mean, who ever heard of hackers breaking into secure servers?
Skylock will be selling for $249, which is actually more money than many people pay for the bicycles that the Skylock is supposed to protect from theft. For that reason, engineers are now working on the Skylocklock, a second lock which will prevent the theft of the Skylock.