The Edge

A Lock That Tells You When Someone Tries to Steal Your Bike

The new Ellipse comes with a whole suit of smart anti-theft and safety features

A Lock That Tells You When Someone Tries to Steal Your Bike

The future of bike locks. Photo: Ellipse

A bike lock’s job is simple: prevent your ride from getting stolen. Being as burly as possible is the best way to accomplish that feat. But what if the lock could also alert you when someone started tampering with it? That’s one of several cool features built into the Ellipse Smart Bike Lock from Lattis.

The Ellipse looks a lot like a standard U-lock, but it has locking mechanisms on both sides of the U, meaning a thief must hack through both sides to get the lock to release. During that time, your phone alerts you that someone is trying to steal the bike. That’s because the Ellipse has a Bluetooth radio with a built-in signal booster, giving it a claimed range of 800 feet (though I’ll believe that when I test it). You won’t be able to secure the bike and go very far, but you should get a notification if someone messes with the lock while you’re in a nearby coffee shop, bar, or office.

You can also use the app to locate where you last locked the bike should you be the forgetful type. You can even use it to lend your bike to friends. Simply give them access to the Ellipse via the app. (They’ll need to install the app on their phone, too.) Because the lock contains a suite of accelerometers, it can also tell when you’ve crashed and automatically send text alerts with your GPS coordinates to selected family or friends—a nice little insurance policy.

To accomplish all this smart stuff, the lock has a built-in solar panel and battery. It takes just 12 hours of sunlight to give you roughly six months of usage. (Or you can charge via micro-USB if you’re short on sun.) You can set up the Ellipse to unlock when you tap it with your phone. If your phone dies, you can key in a pattern on the lock itself to open it.

I wish the Ellipse had an audible alarm to scare off would-be thieves, and Wi-Fi would give it more range than Bluetooth alone. But those additions would be a much bigger draw on the battery, so I understand the design choices.

The Ellipse debuted at CES last week and now retails for $200.

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