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Bitlock: The world's first keyless bike lock to enable low cost peer-to-peer bike sharing among individuals and communities.
Bitlock: The world's first keyless bike lock to enable low cost bike sharing
Bitlock: The world's first keyless bike lock to enable low cost bike sharing
1,268 backers pledged $127,228 to help bring this project to life.

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Where is your BitLock??

13 likes

Dear backers,

It has been a while since we posted the last update. I understand a lot of our backers have been frustrated and unhappy with such delays and infrequent updates. My number one priority has been to finish building second batch and ship the remaining rewards and pre-orders. That’s what keeps me up at night as founder, and have not thought of dropping the ball for a second.

Finishing up the second batch was an arduous process entailed with numerous challenges along the way. I am glad, and at the same time very exhausted, to finally finish this process. We had to go through a lot of uncertainties and make personal sacrifices to make things happen. I would really appreciate it if you can give me chance to explain what has been going on during the last few months. On the bright side, the second batch left the factory right before the Chinese new year and we managed to make a lot improvements to the product, and the QA process.

To recap briefly, in our first production batch, we built and shipped close to 1500 units. However we had a high defect rate in the first batch, that created a lot of overhead since we had to recall, repair, and replace the defective units. We must have made sure these issues were addressed in the second batch, because we could not afford going through same process again.

The PCB manufacturer that we worked with in USA did a very poor job with building the circuit boards in the first batch. We specifically picked a USA based manufacturing in Fremont, CA because we were worried about such issues, but we realized that despite the higher cost, the manufacturer made several novice mistakes and quality was much worst than a lot manufacturers in Asia.

To give you an idea, in some cases the PCBs were not heated enough to fully melt the solder paste in the reflow oven and solder joints were not strong enough (in some cases even open circuit) and as a result, the components just came off the board with minor pressure.

We did not want to risk working with same supplier and we started looking for a new PCB manufacturer. However, this time we had to run a lot more tests on the PCBs to make sure supplier is able to deliver the PCBs with consistent quality. That required us to build a small batch of 100 locks and test those boards with X-ray, and strength test the components on PCBs. We spent close to two months just going through the process of vetting a new manufacturer.

Strength test
Strength test
X-ray test
X-ray test

After approving the quality of the new PCBs and right when we were ready to manufacture the rest of the circuit boards, our Bluetooth chip distributor told us that their lead time had changed from 4 weeks to 4 months, despite an outstanding purchase order with the distributor. The distributor argued that the projected sales quantities for 2015 did not match their order volume from the manufacturers and that’s why the lead times changed.

Unlike other components, we cannot simply buy Bluetooth chips from others manufacturers since the firmware is written and tested for a specific chip. So we had no choice other than wait and escalate the situation to the chip manufacturer to get the chips delivered. We are talking about a company that provides Bluetooth chips to Apple and other phone manufacturers, but unfortunately they treat startups differently. Finally we managed to get the chips after 2 months after the PO date.

At this point, we realized that we need to put some extra the capital together to build the next batch, because all these delays have been negatively affecting our cash flow. It took us another two month to secure financing to build the second batch.

We used this time to make several Improvements to the lock to increase resilience against and humidity and water ingression. We decided to go with a more strict IP67 standard that protects against water immersion. In this test, the lock must endure immersion under the water at 30cm depth for 30 minutes.

Test starts
Test starts
Test finishes
Test finishes

In addition to hardware improvements, we made several improvements to the lock firmware, apps, and the software.

We finally managed to ship the second batch out of the factory almost a few days before the Chinese new year began. If you can go to http://www.track-trace.com/ and enter APZU3861038 as the container number, you can track the shipment from Taiwan to Colorado (that's where the fulfillment center is). Based on that information the vessel will be leaving Taiwan on February 16 and arriving to Los Angeles on February 29. It should reach Colorado on March 8th and be delivered to the warehouse by March 10th. The shipment left the factory on Feb 5th but it looks like it is being held in the ship yard till Feb 16 before it hits the Ocean.

Some of the locks got back returned to us because of either invalid address or customs issues. We are sorting out these returned items and will resume shipping operation all at once on March 10th.

During the next couple weeks and before the arrival of the shipment from Taiwan, we will send an email reminder through BackerKit to everyone who has not received their BitLock yet to double check their shipping address. 

I understand that this project has been way overdue, and the communication has been poor. Sometimes I get absorbed and sucked into dealing with day to day problems and challenges and take an inward approach instead of reaching out and communicating with people around me, including my backers. I hope you accept my apology and help us keep making this product better.

Love you all, 

Mehrdad

Moving Forward + Firmware Update + More

4 likes

Dear Backers,

Apologies for the delay in sending this update. During the last couple of months, we have been working hard to ship BitLocks to our backers and answer questions regarding the app, lock setup, and fixing some of the bugs that you reported to us about the app. 

The shipping process was quite challenging since we got a lot of returns because of undeliverable addresses, or custom issues in some countries. We are constantly working to resolve those issues.

This has been a huge amount of work which left us a bit exhausted for a few weeks. We are now fully recovering from the first wave of mass shipment, getting ready to ramp up production, and resume shipping/fulfillment of remaining orders which we received on our website.

As of today, we have shipped over %90 of our backers rewards. There’s been 100 remaining backers who have not yet received their rewards mainly because they forgot to fill in the survey after the lock-in date. As explained in the last update, we worked with logistics provider to bulk ship all of the locks at once. Since we could not hold back on shipping any longer, we had to ship as many lock as we could in the first batch.

We are planning to do another mass shipping at the end of October and will send the remaining units to backers at the next mass shipping event. The good news is that we are adding a 4ft x 10mm double looped cable to the remaining units as token of appreciation for waiting this long and supporting this campaign for the last two years.

OTA Update of the Firmware:

Soon after we shipped the first batch of the locks, we were notified that certain Android phones (Nexus 4, HTC M8, and a few other makes), running Android Lollipop 5 or 5.1 experienced connection issues with the lock. 

After purchasing some sample Android devices, a lot of investigation, and debugging we were able to find a way to get around this issue. To fix this problem, the firmware of the lock needs to get updated. The only catch is that in order to upgrade the firmware you need to connect to the lock in the first place; meaning that in case your phone is not able to connect, you will need to borrow a iPhone or another Android phone (for 10 minutes) that can connect to the lock, and use it to upgrade the firmware.

We will gradually migrate all of the firmware to the new version. If you happen to see the following pop up on your phone, please accept and let the application run its course to upgrade the firmware (even though your lock is functionally perfectly). 

The process may take up to 10 minutes (depending on the phone make/model). The firmware has been optimized so that the future updates take less than 1 minute.

Also we have been receiving this question pretty often:

Do I need to keep the application running on my phone in order to lock/unlock?

If you have Android, as long as you install the app and register the lock, you don't have keep the application running in foreground to lock/unlock. However, in iPhone it is required that the app is running either in foreground or background mode in order to connect the lock. 

We are working on some sneaking way to make the lock connect to you phone even if the app is not running in background/foreground mode; however to make this happen we need to do a lot experimentation and tests. No smart lock in the market is capable of doing this and we believe that we have the answer for it, and once we make it work, it will come as an OTA update to you lock.

Please stay tunes for some upcoming exciting news in the next few weeks! 

Thanks again for your support.

BitLock team

Shipping resuming on July 15th

9 likes

Dear Kickstarter backers,

We are sincerely sorry about the shipping delays. The last month has been very tough for us. After we shipped around 400 locks, we were notified by around 5% of the backers that their units were suffering from certain defects.

We had to recall those defective units to take a look at the issue up close. We were quite surprised that none of these issues showed up in our pilot production batch nor during beta testing.

Fortunately after a thorough investigation, we were able to locate the issue and apply a very straightforward fix to resolve the issue on the defective locks.

However for the remaining locks, we decided to put all of the locks through a new set of tests to make sure that we can locate and separate the defective units before resuming shipping. The test process for each lock takes around 10 minutes and it is very difficult to expedite it by doing it in parallel. Running the tests have been taking us almost a full month of extra work.

This is a very unique product in the sense that slightest hiccups can dramatically diminish the user experience, and we could not risk shipping the next batch before we were 100% sure that any possible problem is fully addressed.

We are all indebted to everyone of our backers and are doing our best to deliver our promise to you. We have dedicated a lot of resources during the past year, have taken personal loans while working on no pay all out of passion to deliver a high quality product to our supportive backers.

We are working hard day and night to release this shipment and there are only a few hundred units remained to be tested. We have scheduled a pickup on July 15th, when the remaining locks will be shipped all together. If you still have not filled out the survey, it is still not to late.

Thank you once again for supporting this project. 

Mehrdad

Shipping update and more

2 likes

Dear backers, 

 In this update we outline the current shipping status, and address questions we are frequently receiving from backers regarding the product and the app. 

Shipping

During the past month we shipped around 400 units to domestic backers. 

If you are among these backers, and have not opened your package and registered your BitLock, please do it now. We really need your feedback. Since the first shipment batch, we have made numerous improvements to both Android and iPhone apps, based on the backers feedback. 

We still have some work to do to perfect the app and we need as much feedback as possible to improve the user experience. (Below in this post, we go through some of the feedback we received from backers and the follow-on improvements accordingly.) 

However, we ran into several issues with international shipping and we decided to partner up with a logistics company to bulk ship all of the remaining rewards together. Here’s a summary of challenges we had to address: 

 a) The cost of shipping with door-to-door tracking information to many international destinations has been enormous. For example FedEx to most European countries cost above $100! We needed to figure out a way to offer door-to-door tracking while keeping the shipping cost reasonable. To address this, we partnered with a shipping logistics company who will bulk ship to each country and then use local post in destination country to the recipient. They will simply send a truck to our warehouse next week and they take care of distribution for us. 

 b) VAT/Duties: We also wanted to minimize value added tax and duty burden on the recipient. Our logistic partner will be helping us to achieve that as well. 

c) Customs: we needed to make sure all of the documents that are necessary to clear customs in each country are included in the package. 

Survey unanswered

 We still do not have the information of over 400 of our backers. We must have your information including your address before we can ship to you. Since we are bulk shipping our next batch, we need everyone to finish the survey by next week June 15th. Otherwise we must place you in the next shipping batch with the recent non-Kickstarter pre-orders scheduled for beginning of August. We are going to send a survey reminder through BackerKit again. If you have never received the survey, please check your spam folder. 

PLEASE FILL OUT THE SURVEY
PLEASE FILL OUT THE SURVEY

 Android app release

 In case you missed it, Android App has been on Google Play for the last couple of weeks. We made three releases during this time addressing some bugs backers reported. The Android app is now a lot more robust on many devices than before. You can install the app from here: 

  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=co.bitlock&hl=en

App improvement

 We received a lot of feedback from backers and made numerous improvements to both iPhone and Android app. Here’s a short list of issues/comments: 

1) Non-Facebook login 

 In the first app release, we only had Facebook login. We quickly implemented non-Facebook login system to offer different options to all users. This is now fully implemented on both iOS and Android. 

 2) Off-line login 

 Please note that the app is designed so that you do not have be connected to internet to use your BitLock. You only need to have data on your phone the first time you register BitLock and log into the app. Previously there were some glitches that forced the user to re-log in once in a while. The issue is fixed in the upcoming app release. 

 3) Dark screen after launching the app 

 If you have been using the app constantly you might have noticed that sometimes after opening the app, the screen would go dark and you had to restart the app to get through the dark screen. This was an issue with detecting internet/servicer reachability to automatically switch to offline mode. The issue is fixed in the upcoming app release (pending apple review). 

 4) Android device compatibility 

 Some Android users had reported issues with Bluetooth connection. We have addressed most of these issues in the current Android app. There might still be some issues especially with old devices running lollipop 5 and above versions of Android. The application is very stable on all Samsung, Motorola, HTC, and Nexus 5,6 phones. 

 FAQ: 

 1) How to delete/update lock information: 

 To edit or delete the lock from the app, on iPhone you should left swipe on the lock item to reveal the “Edit” and “Remove” options. This is a standard iOS widget. On Android you should long press on the lock name to reveal the “Edit” and “Remove” icons. 

 2) How does the combination code works? 

 Please watch this video that explains entering the code. Basically the code is entered as a sequence of button presses switching from one button to the next at each digit. For example four presses means number 4. To enter the combination, you must long press either of the buttons for three seconds. Also, it does not matter which button you choose to start the sequence. 

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6M7_AeXfp0 

 If you enter the combination incorrectly, you must wait for the lock to go back sleep mode to re-try. We are going to make some improvements to the combo system through an over the air update to allow for multiple re-tries.

 3) Why the lock does not change state when I press the button? 

 Please note that you must not pull the U-bar when pressing the button on the lock or place the locking mechanism under any tension. The locking system will refuse to move if it detects any tension. This is designed to prevent the shackle (U-bar) from falling off if hanging from the lock under accidental button presses during the transport. Please make sure you put the phone inside your pocket and use both your hands, with one hand on the base and the other on the shackle to unlock. Similar to any lock, you need to use both hands to remove the U-bar. One-handed operation is impractical. 

 4) I cannot fine the Android app on Google Play.

 If you cannot find the Android app on Google Play, It means your phone is not supported. Google automatically hides the app if your phone is not supported. 

 5) Did I receive the wrong T-shirt size? 

Please do not rely on the labeling on the T-shirts. The T-shirts are made in Taiwan and follow Asian size standard. Please try on the t-shirt and do not judge the labeling.

 6) What happens after 5 years when the battery dies? 

You can easily replace the battery after 5 years. You will get a notification on your phone when the battery level is low. The battery level feature will come in the next app update. 

 7) What if BitLock is locked when the battery dies? How do I open the lock if that happens? 

 We prevent BitLock from locking back if the battery level drops below the certain threshold. In the very unlikely scenario that the lock battery dies when it is locked (assuming that you ignore the low battery notifications for a long time, and store the lock for many years after the low battery notification), there's a hidden Micro USB emergency port that you use to power the lock and release the U-bar. The port is under the blue cover and you need to cut a portion of the cover to access it. We decided to completely cover the port since it would probably never get used and exposing it would also create water-proofing issues. 

Thanks for your support, 

BitLock Team

Unboxing your BitLock and Getting Started

8 likes

Dear Kickstarter backers,

We finally received the shipment yesterday. It took us almost a week to release the shipment and clear the customs. We are now preparing the shipping labels and commerce shipping tomorrow.

Since we decided to handle the shipping of the first patch ourselves due to the complicated reward levels (different T-shirt sizes and SKUs), we anticipate to ship around 200 to 300 units a week. Please share your feedback with us once you receive the lock. 

To get started with have made the following tutorial videos on how to set up your combination code inside the app and enter the combo code into the lock. We highly recommend that you go through the process of entering the combination code into the lock as soon as you register your lock.

Non-facebook login:

We have already added regular username/password login system to the application. We are in the final stages of testing the login system and hopefully the new application will be released by Monday next week (April 27th). The main reason for Facebook login was to allow users to share access and location of their bikes with their friends on Facebook. After changing the Facebook login, we had to make some changes to support access sharing through email invitation.

Android application:

All of the features are now stable on Android. We are doing our best to bring Android to Google Play by Monday, April 27th.

For Backer from San Francisco:

We are offering local pickup option to backer from San Francisco. Please email us at support@bitlock.co to coordinate a pickup time from our office at the following location:

315 Bay St Floor 4 San Francisco, CA 94133

Thank you all,

Mehrdad and the BitLock team