Grasp Lock reads your fingerprint to unlock your bike
"Smart" bike locks may not quite be at the point where they're a dime a dozen, but there certainly are a number of them out there. That said, pretty much all of them require you to have your smartphone with you, and to make sure it's powered up when locking and unlocking. The Grasp Lock, however, is a little different. It utilizes a built-in fingerprint reader to recognize its user, so no phones, keys or combos are necessary.
Developed in partnership with Canada's University of Waterloo, the water-resistant Grasp is powered by three AAA batteries that should keep it running for over a year.
Although a smartphone isn't required to use it on a day-to-day basis, an accompanying iOS/Android app will let users know when those batteries are running low – in the event that the batteries die, the Grasp will remain locked until new ones are put in.
That app is also used to initially pair the lock with the main user's fingerprint, plus it can be utilized to add (or remove) the prints of up to 20 other users. Additionally, in the event that use of the reader simply isn't an option for whatever reason, the app can unlock the Grasp via Bluetooth.
The lock itself is made from hardened steel covered in soft plastic (to minimize paint scratches), and features a hinged shackle that clamps on and off in a caliper-like fashion. While the square cross-section of the shackle "arms" reportedly makes them harder to cut through than a traditional cylindrical shackle, it also looks like it would be impossible to thread the ends of a cable lock onto them – some cyclists like to do so with regular U-locks, so they can lock up the front wheel without removing it.
The Grasp Lock is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, where a pledge of US$99 will get you one when and if they reach production. The planned retail price is $159.
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I'm also not sure that I'd trust the App to never be hacked or reverse-engineered. I'm sure an enterprising thief could buy one of these and spend some time sniffing the communication between the App and the lock. Once they'd figured out the basics, they could just go to a train station where there's loads of locked up bikes and start brute-forcing the protocol. No-one is going to be suspicious of someone using a laptop in a train station.
And most BTLE uses encrypted connections. All smart locks are using it and it seems to be pretty secure so far.
But I think there's probably an easier way to break this lock: a jack.