UPDATE: If you are discovering this article after April Fools Day 2013, now you know what’s going on here.
In 2010 Jay Bourque was mugged on his way home from a doctors appointment in Brighton, Michigan. The thief not only took his bike — a Batavus Ouverture worth $1700 — but also the key to the Batavus’ integrated wheel lock.
Bourque was shaken up, but unharmed. He was about eight miles from home. He called his wife to come pick him up, but she said she couldn’t get him because she couldn’t find the smart key to their Prius. So Bourque waited in Champ’s Pub and had a couple of beers while his wife located the smart key. Soon an idea formed in his head.
He told his story to the bartender, Luis Evens. “I told Luis that if my bike’s wheel lock had a smart key like our Prius, the thief still would have taken my bike.”
“Unless,” Evens said, “The key was hidden somewhere the thief wouldn’t look.”
“Or wouldn’t want to look,” Bourque said.
“I know what you’re thinking,” said Evens, “but a determined thief would look there — especially to steal a really nice bike like yours. These Detroit bike thieves will stop at nothing.”
“Hmm… But what if,” Bourque pondered, “the thief had to put the smart key up his own pucker hole if he wanted to ride off with the bike?”
Bourque was lamenting the Batavus, of course, which had been a 50th birthday present from Bourque to himself. But also fresh on his mind was the reason he had just seen the doctor: Because he had just turned 50, he was returning from his half-century colonoscopy when he was mugged. Rather than traditional colonoscopy, the doctor had used an endo capsule, a small capsule the size of a pill which contains a tiny camera and other sensors.
The stolen Batavus, the wheel lock, the Prius smart key, and the endo capsule all came together in a flash of inspiration.
By the time Bourque’s wife arrived to take him home, he and Evens had developed the initial idea for the ScatoLOCK, an automatic wheel lock with a hidden smart key. Two years and several prototypes later, Bourque and Evens launched a Kickstarter project to raise $75,000 and bring the ScatoLOCK into full production.
“The technology was all there. I didn’t have to invent anything,” Bourque said.
Bourque worked with a software developer to create alternate firmware for an off-the-shelf endo capsule.
The wheel lock operates on a solenoid and deactivates when the capsule is within one meter, about the maximum distance between a bicyclist’s rear end and the wheel lock for a reasonably tall rider who is standing on his or her pedals.
The endo capsule, or “ScatoKEY” will not release the lock unless it detects both human body temperature and heart rate. “You can’t fool the capsule by putting it in your pants pocket,” Evens said. “It needs to be digitally installed.”
The system is not recommended for tall bikes, or for tandems unless the ScatoKEY is inserted into the stoker.
And it turned out that, by accident, Bourque and Evens invented the most accurate consumer heart-rate monitor available. When combined with ScatoLOCK’s smartphone app, an athletic cyclist can monitor and track body temperature as well as heart rate while training.
ScatoLOCK also makes use of the ScatoKEY’s on-board camera for social sharing.
“My friends and family are always worried about my safety because I ride a bike,” Bourque said. “One co-worker used to always tell me I’m at risk for prostate cancer. Now I just post a recent ScatoLOCK photo to his Facebook wall whenever he mentions it. That shut him up.”
Some of the early product testers were reluctant to try the product because they didn’t want to retrieve the ScatoKEY every time it comes out.
Every ScatoLOCK will come with a retrieval net to make it easy to fish the capsule out of the toilet. The handle of the net telescopes down to a total length of six inches, making the net easy to carry in a jersey pocket, or a medium-sized bike saddle bag.
You can wash off the capsule and reuse it right away while at work. Washing the capsule at home is even easier because it’s dishwasher-safe.
The wheel lock itself fits to almost any bike frame, and uses a half-inch hardened steel loop to prevent the rear wheel from turning. A flashing red LED indicates when the lock is armed for extra theft deterrence.
The lock and key are both USB rechargeable. The battery life of the lock is several weeks, depending on how often it is used.
The ScatoKEY battery life is about eight hours, and the system comes with two USB cables, so you can charge it at your desk while at work and have it ready for your commute home.
The entire system will cost approximately $390 retail, but Kickstarter backers can essentially pre-order a ScatoLOCK for only $350.