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University of Waterloo grads launching biometric bike lock through Kickstarter campaign

GraspGrasp, the world’s first bike lock that uses a rider’s thumbprint to open, has just over 10 days left on its Kickstarter campaign, during which it hopes to raise $75,000 to mass produce its first batch of locks.

The weatherproof lock has a circuit board, thumb scanner and electric motor embedded inside, powered by three AAA batteries, which can power the lock for over a year.

The lock works with an app, which alerts the rider if the lock is being cut into, and also when the batteries are getting low.

If the Kickstarter campaign is successful, the Grasp team hopes to have the locks on the market by November of 2016.

The Grasp team, a bunch of Mechatronics graduates from the University of Waterloo, came up with the idea for their lock while on co-op work placements at Apple headquarters in Cupertino.

“It all started when we were working in the San Francisco bay area the Summer of 2014, commuting everywhere by bicycle,” they write on their Kickstarter page. “We loved riding in the beautiful California climate, but soon realized that we dreaded the hassle of locking up our bikes. And so the idea was born.”

Building a prototype during the fourth year of their Mechatronics program, co-founders Sarbjeet Singh, Samson Berhane, Ryan Terpstra and Jason Zeng found themselves in the manufacturing capital of the world, Shenzhen, China, after graduating from U of W this past June.

For the interview with the Chinese hardware accelerator, called HAX, the co-founders had two Skype interviews during which they were peppered with questions relating to both engineering and the business details of the product.

The team returned from HAX in November and have hit the ground running with their Kickstarter campaign.

Obviously, the technology behind Grasp has broader applications outside bike locks, using biometric information to interact with various Internet of Things applications, such as secure locations, buildings, rooms, desk drawers, etc.

The Grasp team is now operating out of the University’s Velocity Foundry, which specializes in hardware start-ups.


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