Say goodbye to your troublesome bicyle locks!
Forgot to bring your bicycle locks, or fed up with searching for a good quality chain that won’t be easily snipped by thieves? These new bicycle smart racks that have just been launched all over Singapore will solve your woes.
In a collaboration between local startup Viatick and the Housing Development Board (HDB), these smart racks that were officially unveiled last week are free-to-use for anyone. The rack allows users to to secure their bikes and scooters without the need for a separate lock. This is probably especially useful for e-scooter users, who probably have had to fold their mobility devices and take it with them while not in use.
This new technology complements Singapore’s metamorphosis into a smart city.
According to Tech In Asia, the smart racks utilise your smartphone’s bluetooth capabilities so you can lock and unlock your bike at any available smart rack. It uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology, which is more energy-efficient as compared to other versions of bluetooth, while maintaining the communication range of its forebear.
Singapore-based Viatick develops BLE technologies for use in a variety of industries, including healthcare, logistics, and retail.
BuzzVox, which is the app-based platform developed for commuters to utilise the smart mobility device rack, has been called the “first of its kind solution that fosters a sharing economy to take place in any smart city”.
The application is not only a bluetooth locking mechanism for your mobility devices. It has GPS for location tracking, artificial intelligence (AI) for route recommendations, a Chatbot for communication and inquiries, and even Blockchain for booking transactions.
Working with HDB to solve bicycle parking woes
The introduction of smart racks not only benefits cyclists and riders in Singapore, but helps to ease some woes of Singapore’s councils.
Local authorities were spending a lot of money maintaining the traditional bicycle racks that were hogged by people. Many racks were simply filled up with abandoned old bikes still locked to them.
HDB then approached Viatick to solve their problem.
In the Tech In Asia interview, Louis Kent Lee, Viatick’s head of accounts and engagement, admits that working with the HDB to build smart bike racks is somewhat different from his company’s bread-and-butter.
“This project is a slight deviation from what we normally do,” he says. “The HDB proposed it to us, and we saw it as a good chance for bluetooth to shine.”
Managing the network of smart racks, BuzzVox is able to collects data the racks’ users, thus allowing the government to keep track of who has parked in a particular spot, and the duration – which could potentially be crucial in negating the problem of rack abuse.
The BLE-enabled beacons even allows them to track indoor movement of shoppers, employees and students. This information allows them to derive insights into behavior patterns that they can then use for purposes such as proximity marketing or increasing workflow efficiencies.
Competition with bike-sharing?
For bike-sharing systems in Singapore like homegrown oBike, Beijing-founded Mobike and Ofo, their vehicles utilise their own locking mechanisms. This pretty much allows users to leave them anywhere and everywhere – without the need for docking on a rack. This has caused quite a few annoyances to both users and non-users.
Lee feels that BuzzVox, as a docking system, complements rather than competes with the dockless services.
He said, ““This project seems to be competing [with them], but it’s not – it’s actually an infrastructure that stands by itself.”
He explains that BuzzVox can potentially save these bike-sharing companies maintenance costs. If cyclists leave their bikes in BuzzVox docks, it is simpler and more time-efficient to locate and collect them for repair or recall.
In face, some of them are already in talks with Viatick. Obike’s development team is currently discussing methods of integrating its bikes’ locks with BuzzVox.
As for users, we can probably expect to see more of these smart mobility device racks outside of HDB blocks. BuzzVox is currently exploring partnership options with AsiaMalls and City Developments, as they look into expanding into more regions of Singapore and our city centre.
BuzzVox is aiming to provide more than 100 of their smart racks across the island by 2018.