February 3, 2017

Skylock (Now Ellipse) Debuts

Skylock got a lot of press back in 2014, and, as pre-orders begin to ship, the app-controlled bike lock continues to garner high-profile coverage. It's just not all positive.

Michael Tortorello reports in the Wall Street Journal that while the lock, now called Ellipse, boasts a solar panel and a theft- and accident-detecting accelerometer, it suffers from some unglamorous mechanical difficulties.

"So what happens if the app connects to Ellipse," writes Tortorello, "but the latch won’t clinch properly, preventing you from securing your bike to the rack?" He continues:
Or what if, later on, the latch refuses to release, threatening to leave you stranded 6 miles from home? Can the lock detect profanity, uttered in close proximity and at high volume? 
That’s what happened to us during a recent road test.
(I trust Tortorello means that the lock malfunctioned, not that it detected the frustrated tester's string of expletives.)

Though Ellipse creator Jack Al-Kahwati assured Tortorello that the issue he encountered has been corrected on the locks shipping to customers who pre-ordered them, the reporter sounds unconvinced.

"The technology in the Ellipse may be novel," Tortorello concludes his piece, "but our experience brought back analog memories: It felt just like losing a key."

Note also: The Ellipse is selling for less than the expected $249 reported by BTB in June 2014. The list price is in fact $199 (smart phone not included).

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