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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.

Recent updates

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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

Shipping starts next week + exclusive add-ons on BackerKit

6 likes

Dear backers,

We’d like to thank you again for your patience and your support during the past year. Based on the last update, we should have started shipping BitLock to you by now but an unfortunate turn of events caused further delays in the shipment of our container from the factory. The shipment left the factory in beginning of February but the ports in Taiwan were congested because of the Chinese new year, and the shipment was directed to Korea and from Korea to Oakland. Below is the tracking information provided to us by the shipping company:

Tracking information
Tracking information

The good news is that the shipment is finally arriving on April 11th (in 4 days). It may take a couple of days to clear shipment through the customs and release the container. We expect to begin shipping the first batch on April 15th.

The iPhone app is on App Store!

Our iPhone application was approved by Apple yesterday after a one month wait. We had to ship a sample hardware to Apple for reviewing both hardware and the application. We are still working on some features of the application such as activity and motion tracking leveraging Apple’s motion co-processor. This feature will come as an application update in the next release of the app.

To download the app, search for “BitLock” on App store or use the following link:

https://appsto.re/us/UWQh6.i

Android application:

We are still testing the Android application on more devices. As of now we have tested the Android application on the following devices. We plan to ship the devices to backers who own the tested devices first and continue shipping as we test more popular devices:

Nexus 5, Nexus 6 (KitKat and Lollipop) Samsung Galaxy S4, S4 Mini, A3, S5 (KitKat) Motorola Droid Mini, Moto G, Moto X (KitKat) HTC One M8 (KitKat)

Final specifications:

Below is the final specifications of BitLock.

Dimensions:

Steel U-bar thickness: 12.6 mm (0.5 inch) 

Steel U-bar length: 218 mm (8.6 inch) 

Steel U-bar width: 145 mm (4.5 inch) 

Cross bar tube length: 196 mm (7.7 inch) 

 Cross bar tube diameter: 36 mm (1.4 inch)

Total weight: 3 lb 5 oz (1.5 Kg)

Battery life: 10,000 interactions (locks and unlocks) or 5 years (battery easily replaceable)

Colors
Colors

BackerKit survey and shipping fee:

1) Backer survey is being reviewed by the BackerKit team. The survey should be emailed out to you in about 2 days. Please provide your phone make and model in the survey so that we make sure the app is fully tested your phone before we ship BitLock to you.

2) You can add additional items to your pledge. As a token of appreciation for your support, we are offering 500 BitLocks at $89 price ($30 under our retail price) as an add-on exclusive to Kickstarter backers.

3) If you are based in US and have not already paid for shipping, you will be ask to add $15 to the total pledge amount. The shipping cost for domestic backers is lowered from the $20 amount to $15.

4) We will combine all items and the shipping cost will be flat rate for domestic backers.

5) For international backers, $10 will be added to the shipping cost for each add-on item.

Custom color BitLocks:

Due to complications in supply chain management, we were forced to assemble and ship the custom color BitLock separately. They are expected to get here in a few weeks, by early May. We are going to have these units shipped through air so that we don’t have to wait for ocean freight.

Please feel free to reach us at support@bitlock.co

Love you all, 

Mehrdad and BitLock team

Assembly finished & BitLocks departed factory!

20 likes

Dear backers,

The exciting moment has arrived. After over a year of non-stop work, with its many sleepless nights, highs and lows, innumerable rounds of tweaks, improvements, and testing, we hit the finish line.

Loading the container
Loading the container
Container leaving the factory
Container leaving the factory

During the past month, we managed to wrap up production and assembly in our facility in Taiwan just one week before the Chinese new year!

Assembly line
Assembly line
assembly line 2
assembly line 2
assembly line 3
assembly line 3
BitLock before packaging
BitLock before packaging
#{project_title}'s video poster
Automatic punching machine!

Because the vessel schedule was packed before the Chinese new year, we had to send the first shipment from Taiwan to the port of Oakland via Korea. The shipment is expected to arrive to the port of Oakland in 3-4 weeks (i.e. mid March).

One the shipment is inspected and cleared through US customs, we will move it to our local warehouse and begin shipping to backers from there.

We have prepared the survey through BackerKit and it will be sent out by the end of this week to get your shipping information.

More detailed information regarding fulfillment (how to adjust or upgrade your pledge through BackerKit, add shipping, VAT related matters etc ) will come in the next update once the survey is out.

For backers from Canada:

The Certification and Engineering Bureau (CEB) is currently in the process of updating the online E-filing application and is shut down their E-Filing service for a period of two weeks. We must wait to get CEB approval on the IC application before we begin shipping to Canada to make sure that we won’t run into issues at customs. This may introduce some more delays (2 weeks) in the process of shipping to backer in Canada.

Thanks for your support throughout this time and looking forward to seeing you use BitLock on your bike.

Mehrdad & BitLock Team

Production update

12 likes

Dear Kickstarter backers

Happy 2015 to everyone one of you! We apologize for break in communication and the delay in sending this update. We have been hard at work during the New Year holiday to make sure BitLock ships as soon as possible, however we hit a few obstacles that created delays in shipping based on the previously planned time line.

The main source of delay had to do with obtaining the certification marks as explained in detail below. We also had to send the boards back to the factory for rework since they forgot to apply solder to the legs of the micro USB port (which caused lack of structural strength on the micro USB port). In overall, all of these obstacles are now overcome and BitLock assembly must be finished in 2 weeks. We need to allow 4 weeks for ocean freight from our factory in Taiwan to California. We will begin shipping all items in 6-7 weeks from now by latest.

EMC/EMI testing:

Testing the product is a critical step in order to obtain the necessary standard regularly approvals and print the certification marks on the product and the packaging. We engaged with our test lab beginning of November and they told us when the whole process takes 2-3 weeks in total, and we based everything based on their estimate.

Fortunetly BitLock has passed all of the tests and complies with all of the regulatory limitations for US, Canada, Europe. Please see below the pictures we took during some of the tests in the lab:

Test Lab 1
Test Lab 1
Test Lab 2
Test Lab 2
Test Lab 3
Test Lab 3
Test Lab 4
Test Lab 4

However now after 2 months, we are still waiting for th approval of the certification marks by the TCB (Telecommunication Certification Body). Based on our understanding the approval process must be finished this week. Obtaining approval is important before proceeding to print the certification marks on the product, because any necessary modification to the certification marks placement, size, etc means we need to remove and reprint them from scratch on each product.

Circuit boards and programming the boards:

We received the final boards from the factory last week. Our circuit factory was delayed over three weeks based on the timeline they were supposed the deliver the board to us. We had a lot of back and forth with them to improve the schedule. When we received the board initially, we noticed that the factory forgot to solder the legs of the micro USB connector and we had to send them back for re-work.

To program the boards, we made a custom flasher system that is capable of programming 10 boards at a time. Programming of each board alone takes 30 seconds and with this system we could bring that down to 3 seconds per board effectively. However after taking into account the unpacking, mounting, un-mounting, and packaging time, in practice our throughput became 60 boards per hour. That meant we almost spent 1 full week to program the boards and package them in boxes to send them to the factory. We are building a automatic mounting system for the next production batch but this was the best we could do now.

Programming the boards
Programming the boards
Programming the boards 2
Programming the boards 2

Packaging design:

We also had to design the packaging. Since we had very limited resources and time to deliver this batch we decided to go with a low key packaging system which is made of corrugated boards. We would have loved to have enough time and resources to design a better looking packaging that is deserving of our Kickstarter backers, but we did not want to introduce further delay in delivery. We hope you are comfortable with the packaging.

Packaging system
Packaging system

Discontinuing two colors:

We also had some issues supplying the pink and brown colors and to simplify supply chain management, we decided to discontinue pink and brown from color pallet.

Warehouse:

We are now talking to few places to lease our warehouse for the incoming shipment and have everything ready to label and ship BitLocks to you.

Backerkit survey:

We will shortly send the survey through BackerKit. On BackerKit you will have the option to upgrade your pledge if you wish.

Further improvements to the product:

We made a few improvement to BitLock as well. In order to remove any rattling noise, we added two washers to BitLock. We also redesigned the print on based on user feedback to use circle and rectangle on the buttons instead of numbers and two arrows showing how the lock opens.

BitLock with added washers
BitLock with added washers
Improved print on BitLock
Improved print on BitLock
User Manual
User Manual

Android:

We have been testing Android on different phones and also improving the UI design on Android. So far we have not had any major issues with Android. The only remaining piece on Android is supporting over-the-air update which must be finished before the shipping date.

Cross device testing
Cross device testing

We apologize again for the delay and look forward to shipping BitLock to you.

BitLock team

Assembly update + Android Beta Testing

14 likes

Dear Kickstarter backers,

We want to thank you once again for supporting us to get to this point and your patience to accept the delay in delivery of BitLock to you. We would like to take a moment to update you about what we have been doing during the past month, problems we faced and solved, milestones we reached, and the remaining things to be done. 

 Android Beta Testing: 

 First off, we have great news for Android fans! BitLock Android app is now ready for beta testing. We are looking for volunteers local to San Francisco Bay area to commence beta testing in 1-2 weeks. 

 Beta testing on Android is going to be a bit more challenging due to diversity of Android devices. For example, Some Motorola devices including Moto X suffer from WIFI and Bluetooth co-existence issue that has been officially reported by Motorola as a hardware bug: 

https://motorola-global-portal.custhelp.com/app/answers/prod_answer_detail/a_id/99664/p/30,6720,8448/kw/ble

 We would like to test as many devices as possible during our beta phase test, and as a result it may take longer than iOS beta test phase. To volunteer, you should have the following prerequisites: 

 1) Volunteers must have an Android Phone that runs Jelly Bean 4.3 or KitKat 4.4 or Android L and supports Bluetooth Low Energy in hardware. 

 2) Volunteers should be local to San Francisco Bay Area. This simplifies the logistics and gives us a chance to closely interact with the users. 

 3) Volunteers must be a daily biker, and use BitLock at least a couple of times per day during the test phase. It will be great if you would be willing to share access with your friends to further test the test the social features. 

 4) Be patience: the whole purpose of beta testing is to detect likely issues and fix them early before shipping the final product. You should understand that during beta testing, you might experience glitches or disruption in service. We will make yourself available to you 24/7 and provide a support phone number to call for immediate assistance. 

 5) Testers should be communicative. The whole purpose of receiving a test unit is to help us gather information about potential issues that you might be facing and get your feedback to further improve the system. We might ask for a few short updates per week. 

 If you wish to volunteer to become a beta tester, please email us at beta@bitlock.co with your full name, telephone number, location, and mention the make/model of your Android phone. 

 All beta testers will receive an additional free BitLock in early 2015 as a token of appreciation for helping us improve Bitlock System. We will meet and set up each tester individually in our office.

Production and assembly status: 

We have successfully finished our pilot assembly in the factory. We are going to leverage the information from this run to further streamline the process the assembly and testing process when assembling the rest of the units. Below are some pictures showing the assembly process:

Plastic enclosure of electronics components
Plastic enclosure of electronics components
punching holes on the tube cover
punching holes on the tube cover
printing the artwork on the product
printing the artwork on the product
assembling of the cover on the U-bar
assembling of the cover on the U-bar
Plastic housing assembly
Plastic housing assembly

Corrosion Testing:

To ensure corrosion resistance and measure the quality of the plating on the steel parts, we performed salt spray test for the BitLock tube using ASTM B-117 test method: test period at 96 hours with observation in every 24 hours. After 96 hours, no red rust was found on outside the tube as shown in the picture below:  

Corrosion testing
Corrosion testing

 Regulatory certifications:

Every product with electronic components must be tested for electromagnetic compatibility to ensure it is not interfering with other devices. The Bluetooth module we are using inside BitLock already comes with international certificates, however we still need to perform a set of test at product level (host) including spurious emission tests, safety tests, etc.

The testing itself does not take more 2-3 days, however, in the last two weeks we have been constantly talking to test engineers and regulatory team over at Broadcom to understand exactly what tests we need to performed for each country. 

We had to sift through a pile of information to finally determine the necessary set of tests to be performed. Also, there have also been some recent regulatory changes in Europe that we had to make sure that we cover in our tests.

The testing should be finished next week. After that we can add the certification marks (FCC, CE, IC, etc) to the final artwork that will be printed on the product.

Beta testing update:

The beta testing phase was immensely helpful to detect and address issues early on. Our main focus in the first set of tests were to detect hardware specific issues. Issues related to the firmware or iOS/Android app can be easily fixed with remote updates but hardware itself has to be free of any sort of issues whatsoever. Below we will discuss a few hardware issues that came to light during the Beta testing phase. We addressed these issues in the production units. Some of the information provided here might get a bit a too technical, so feel free to skip.

a) Issue with the battery cap:

During the beta test phase, some of the testers informed us of the LED light was fading out when motor began turning as if the battery did not have enough juice.

We begin investigating the issue and observed a very strange phenomenon with the battery cap. We used two probes to measure the resistance of the battery cap. (Please see the attached picture). If we inserted pressure on the probes, the resistance changed dramatically. With light pressure, the resistance was about 300 Ohms and with heavy pressure, the resistance went down to 2 Ohms!!

The battery cap closes the circuit when put in place.  They are made of aluminum and have chromate conversion coating to allow electric conductivity. 

Measuring the battery cap ohmic resistance
Measuring the battery cap ohmic resistance

 Our guess is that since the surface is polished and shiny, the effective contact surface area when the cap comes on contact with probe is very small creating a large resistance. 

When we inserted pressure on the probes, we were basically increasing the contact surface area (in microscopic scale) and lowering the resistance.

Please note that when motor turns it draws around 30mA from the battery. If for example, the cap resistance is 100 Ohms, this current can create a large voltage drop (~2V!!) and force the micro controller to restart.

To temporarily fix this issue on Beta test units, we applied copper tape to the back of the battery cap to lower the contact resistance.

punching copper tape into circles
punching copper tape into circles
removing the sticker from the copper circle
removing the sticker from the copper circle
Sticking copper circle onto the battery cap surface
Sticking copper circle onto the battery cap surface

To resolve this issue in production units, we decided to gold plate the battery cap instead to improve their conductivity. 

Gold plated battery caps
Gold plated battery caps

(b) Passivation issues with the battery: 

 The battery technology used in that BitLock is Lithium Thionyl Chloride (Li-SOCl 2) which a special primary (non-rechargeable) lithium metal battery. These batteries have a very low self-discharge rate (0.5% per year as opposed to 10% per month for lithium ion secondary batteries used in smartphones) and the highest energy destiny among all lithium chemistries. Their low self-discharge is due to an effect called "passivation". 

 Passivation is a chemical term and it refers to phenomena that a kind of chemical film appears on the surface of the metal and prevents the further corrupt from happening on the surface of the metal. If you are interested to know about passivation, read this document: 

http://www.batimex.pl/zdjecia/pdf/passivation.pdf

Passivation is the inherent character of lithium thionyl chloride battery. Without passivation, lithium thionyl chloride battery cannot be stored. Because the lithium chloride produced on the surface of the metal lithium in thionyl chloride is very compact and prevents the reaction of lithium and thionyl chloride, the self-discharge inside the battery becomes very small. This way, the shelf life of the battery can be over 20 years. This is the positive side of the passivation. So passivation can protect the battery capacity and will not cause capacity loss. 

 Like everything else in the world, there’s a dark side to passivation too. Passivation can increase the internal resistance of the battery unless the battery is de-passivated by current shocks, "kicks", which will break down the thin film layered formed during storage. 

 The batteries we were using were stored more than 6 months and were highly passivated, which meant we had to de-passivate them before putting them in the product. But the main issue was that if someone stores their bike for the whole season, the battery would be passivated, and we cannot ask the user to depassivate it themselves. There are of course methods of in-system de-passivation, but we could not use them in our product. 

 After a ton of research on how to tackle this problem, we decided to switch to another lithium metal chemistry called Lithium Manganese Oxide ( Li-MGO2). The lithium CR batteries in watches use the same chemistry. Li-MGO2 batteries do no passivate (sigh!) and similar to Lithium Thionyl Chloride (Li-SOCl 2) batteries have a 10 year shelf life. 

 The main challenge was to find them in AA form factor. Luckily we found a dozens of suppliers that make these batteries in AA form factor. There are becoming more popular in the market place. We ordered a set of samples from suppliers and we are very impressed by their performance. With the new batteries, we can still go over 10,000 locks/unlocks and 5 year battery life. 

 Application improvements: 

Based on the feedback we got from our beta tester, we added the following improvements to the app.

(a) Secure local caching for offline log in: 

 It is important for us to make sure BitLock always work no matter if you do or don’t have an active internet connection on your phone. To make this work, we must allow the user to log into the application, even if the application is offline. 

 (b) Connection time improvement: 

 We realize that one of benefits of using BitLock is the convenience factor that alleviates the need to fumble with your keys and reach your bag/pocket to pull out your keys. That means the connection time must be very short and BitLock respond very quickly to lock/unlock commands. 

We had to make a lot of improvements to lower the connection and authentication time. After making a lot tweaks, we were able to bring the connection and authentication time down to 1 second. We are very impressed with the current interaction speed. 

Please note that if the application is running in the background, this may time slightly increase since iOS increases the scanning interval automatically to converse the iPhone battery. 

 T-shirts: 

 Finally printing of the t-shirts is finished and they will ship to us together with the locks from the factory. I would like to extend our apology to those backers who pledged for t-shirts and still have not received their t-shirt. We will begin shipping all of the t-shirts together with pledges for other backers.  

BitLock T-shirt
BitLock T-shirt

Thanks again for supporting this Kickstarter campaign and we do look forward to see you use BitLock on your bike!

Mehrdad and BitLock team

Made with love
Made with love