Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Tech News: Watchdog System connected disc lock

If there's one thing that motorcyclists fear apart from dropping their bike, it's having their bike stolen. Manufacturers incorporate solutions such as immobilisers or transponders that you carry around with you - usually as a key fob - to their products to make them harder to steal. One can also buy a variety of alarms, disc locks, security chains, padlocks etc. At the end of the day, though, all of these devices are simply deterrents designed to slow bike thieves down; though as the saying goes, "where there's a will, there's a way" and a determined bike thief will steal your pride and joy, however hard you try to make that impossible. One answer to this is to fit your bike with a tracker so that police or private security firms can follow the criminal's trail and recover your bike - and sometimes bikes stolen from other unfortunate motorcyclists.

Back in the Seventies, the French had a popular saying: "On a pas du pétrole, mais on a des idées*". The French startup Watchdog System has definitely had a very clever idea indeed and has developed a high-tech disk lock that is connected to a smartphone app that informs you in real time about things happening to your bike. This is done by means of a complex algorithm that uses machine learning techniques to recognise various situations, such as somebody trying to move your bike, a bike toppling over, or a bike being lifted off the ground. The alert is not only sent to you, but also to all other Watchdog System users in the area, the idea being that if you can't reach your bike, some Good Samaritan can.

The disc lock itself is fairly compact, which means that it can be easily stowed away without taking too much room. This is due to its keyless design that does away with the need for a voluminous lock barrel. Instead, it works with an electronic key that is only used to remove the device; fitting the lock to your bike is easy: just slip it onto the brake disc and it automatically locks into place. The electronic lock system is also used to recharge the disc lock via a proprietary charging station, with charging intervals of up to two months.

Ultimately, of course, this is a deterrent device, albeit one that can give you an opportunity to reach your bike in time to "have a word" with the little scumbag trying to make off with your ride. But combined with a hardwired tracker, this is also an opportunity to have a head start on bike thieves and eventually prevent your bike being broken for parts or ending up in another country.

The Watchdog System smart disc lock is now on pre-order from their website at a launch price of €279 (±£246).

*"We don't have crude oil, but we do have ideas"

All photographs © Watchdog System

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