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Smart Lock

Integrating wireless technologies into a lock



Smart Lock is a great and simple solution for keyless living that will make life so much easier for everyone that manages a great number of areas and space, such as hotels, hospitals, congress centers, or public service buildings. Or, in our case, bicycle-sharing systems.


City policymakers increasingly encourage bicycle commuting as city streets grow more congested and polluted by the increasing number of cars in use. The policymakers have recognized that an affordable and easy-to-use public bicycle-sharing system is the first step in getting more commuters to switch to cycling. 


ABUS, a German security tech company, recognized the need for improving the existing bicycle-sharing systems and decided to augment their existing bicycle locks with an intelligent electronic system making them an ideal fit for the bicycle-sharing application.  Byte Lab was selected for the job because of our previous experience with electronic locks and bicycle tracking devices.

What is it all about?

The idea was to replace mechanical cylinders with an electric motor which opens the possibility to use a digital key that can be transferred between users.

The work

An asset management company EC-IS approached us with a request to integrate multiple wireless radio technologies into a small lock. Our solution is now used by Nordic Semiconductor to showcase products based on their Bluetooth 4.0 technology. We provided them with the complete software and hardware solution ready for demonstration to customers in only 40 days.


The challenge was to develop a very compact electronic module with the following functionalities – Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy for communication with the smartphone, quad-band GSM with SIM on-chip for GPRS connection to the Internet, GPS location positioning, NFC – Near field communication for user authorization, and smartphone connection, OLED display and keyboard input, Li-Ion battery charging via USB and energy harvesting, Accelerometer, EEPROM, motor driver and PCB board size of only 50 x 25 mm.


We had to integrate four different wireless technologies into a small form factor device that would fit inside the bicycle frame lock. GPRS connection was used for communication with the server. Bluetooth 4.0 was used for communication with the smartphone application. The user could open the lock directly from the app or with an NFC-based smart card. On top of that, a GNSS receiver was implemented to allow users to locate available bicycles via the app. The smart lock was powered from an internal Li-ion battery. We have implemented battery charging from the hub dynamo located on the front wheel. To fit four different antennas and other circuits inside a small enclosure, we designed the board on a semi-rigid flexible PCB.

The outcome

At the time of writing, a pilot program involving 150 smart locks is underway in the Belgian city of Ghent. The smart locks are used as a part of the bicycle-sharing system and make the system easier to use. ABUS is preparing for mass production of the locks.

"We worked closely with the Byte Lab team on several international projects. I was personally impressed with their speed and efficiency. They decreased our time to market which allowed us much greater productivity." I view them as an extension of our own engineering team.

Guy Spleesters