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What if you could rent your bike out, numerous times a week, without ever having to coordinate hand-offs. Or share your apartment, without having to hide the key under the mat. A new generation of locks makes sharing and renting easy and safe.

By putting rental management into the hands of everyday people, these locks enable decentralized and less expensive systems of sharing, as opposed to big platforms and services that require expensive infrastructure.

1. Slock

Slock is a smart lock that uses “smart contracts” on a blockchain to lock and unlock it. The lock was born of the question, How could you rent, sell, or share idle things, from your house and car to your washing machine, lawnmower, or bike, more easily?

With Slock, the owner of the lock sets the deposit fee and cost, and the user pays the deposit then opens and closes the lock as much as they’d like. When the user is finished, their deposit is returned, minus the costs. Slock takes care of payment, matching users and owners, and security.

Using a blockchain, which is described as a “decentralized cryptographically-secured database, which allows anyone in the world to access it and send transactions to it, safely changing its state without having to get permission,” Slock users interact with each other. The blockchain can’t be cheated and the creators of Slock don’t need to run servers, transfer money, or manage key exchanges.

2. AirDonkey

AirDonkey is a bike rental site and a platform that enables anyone to start a bikesharing service. Bike owners take a photo of their bike, create a profile for it on the AirDonkey site, and decide on the daily and weekly rental price. The Donkey Lock locks the back wheel of the bike to the frame and is opened by AirDonkey users. The idea is that bike owners can turn spare or idle bikes into rental bikes and that, once you’ve joined AirDonkey, wherever you go in the world, there’s a bike waiting for you.

Described as the Airbnb of bicycles, AirDonkey uses the Donkey Kit to transform bikes into individual rental products. Using the platform, bike owners can list one or many bikes, and users can locate and rent bicycles nearby. Owners define the zone where users should drop off the bike and users can find and reserve bikes in advance.

Donkey Republic, the Copenhagen-based company behind AirDonkey, recently ran a kickstarter campaign to raise money to improve software with additional features and gear up production so they can release AirDonkeys all over the world. The campaign was a success, with 212 backers pledging 289,293 Danish Krone ($41,000USD).

3. Skylock

Skylock is a smart lock that connects to your smartphone to provide, not only keyless entry, but theft detection, crash alerts, and more. With a built-in accelerometer, it can detect crashes, and theft threats. When someone is tampering with your bike, you are alerted via your smartphone.

Skylock also lets you create a trusted network to share access to your bike with. Using it, you can create your own bike share system. Other key features include steel housing and a durable rubber cover, 256-bit eliptic-curve cryptography, built-in solar panels that recharge the battery, and a touch interface to unlock your bike in case your phone dies.

Skylock starts shipping in early-2016.

4. Calllock

Calllock is a bikesharing lock that enables individuals to share bikes, ebikes, scooters, and bike parking, without the need to monitor the exchange. Users can unlock the Calllock unit using an app, a Calllock card, or by SMS. There’s a key inside the unit, which enables easy sharing and locking.

Bike owners can set a rate-per-zone and both owners and users are provided with stats and data. Users can reserve bikes ahead of time and can integrate Calllock with multiple forms of identification, or even a public transport card. Designed to scale, Calllock enables the management and registration of bike pools or rental fleets and can be integrated, via API, to existing back-offices, terminals, and card systems.

Bonus: Here are three more innovative smart locks that are changing the way we share.

August Smart LockThe August Smart Lock is a smart lock for you home that enables you to unlock your door, create virtual keys for guests, and track who comes and goes. The lock could be used with TaskRabbits, home renters, house guests, and more.

BitlockSimilar to other bike smart locks, Bitlock enables you to unlock your bike with a smartphone. But Bitlock recognizes when you are close and opens the lock. It also tracks CO2 saved by cycling.

Lock8The Lock8 platform enables you to create a bikesharing company with one or many bikes. Through the Lock8 kit, which is installed permanently on the back wheel of bikes, users can unlock bikes with their smartphone.

Do you know of any other innovative locks being used to grow the peer-to-peer economy? In the comments, let us know.


Top photo: AirDonkey. Follow @CatJohnson on Twitter

Cat Johnson


Cat Johnson | |

Cat Johnson is a content strategist and teacher helping community builders create strong brands. A longtime writer, marketing pro and coworking leader, Cat is the founder of Coworking Convos and