Forgetting the combination on your travel lock is one of those annoying things that is never meant to happen. After more than a dozen hours on a plane to the US, the last thing Kabir Sidhu wanted to do was find a bolt cutter to break one of his locks, so instead he sat down for 45 minutes trying every possible combination to crack the code. Fearing that history would repeat itself, Sidhu came back to Melbourne and created the Airbolt, a smart travel lock that uses bluetooth and phone connectivity to unlock itself.
The Airbolt is paired with a user’s phone and shipped with a unique code, that upon entering, the user can forget about. A few quick and easy steps prompts the user to create an account, where all details are stored, making combinations and keys a thing of the past.
“It removes combinations and keys by using your phone as the point of reference. It connects by Bluetooth and all you have to do is walk up to your bag press the button on it and it does the rest,” said Sidhu.
The Airbolt also has app features that can send alerts to your phone if your bag has been moved and also uses a crowdsourced GPS network that relies on a person’s phone location system.
“Let’s suppose you lose your luggage and you have locked your baggage with the Airbolt. When someone with the Airbolt app walks by, it can detect your Airbolt and send its information up anonymously,” explained Sidhu.
When an airline loses your luggage it can take weeks to track it down. Weeks without your clothes, toiletries and other personal items is a pain in the neck. With the Airbolt crowdsourced GPS network, your luggage can be detected by leveraging off other anonymous travellers with Airbolt.
“So say if you’re at the airport and you’re on the last boarding call and you forget your bag, it will alert you with sound going ‘hey you left your bag behind, you might want to check.’ There’s a distance-based alert that can also check if it’s on its way to the carousel,” explained Sidhu.
In this way, the Airbolt is similar to Tiles, which has people who own Tiles, or tags, to keep their app running to create a network or community of users who can track items. If a user walks by a missing item while their app is running, the owner will get a location update.
Last month Sidhu launched a Kickstarter campaign with the hopes of receiving $50,000 in funding and to test the waters to see just how popular his product would be. The Airbolt was fully funded in just six days, and received overwhelming support from both the local and global community. At the end of the campaign Airbolt was 400 percent funded, smashing prior goals and scoring high in popularity, raising $202,306.
“The research showed a lot of interest early but we were blown away at how fast we got and surpassed our goal. The response we got was absolutely amazing and we’re very happy in that way,” said Sidhu.
Sidhu aims to have the product in the market by August next year. It will be one of the first few devices to launch with Bluetooth 4.2, which will allow users to connect to the internet via a router or access point. The app is also compatible with Android and iOS and in the coming months will be added to the Apple watch.
The app is designed to be a one software control system, where you can track your lock and manage its settings all from your smartphone. If you lose your phone, which is common amongst the European backpacker, you can log into another phone and access it from there or you can reset the app from the lock itself through the unique code
“Those are redundancy features there just in case everything goes wrong for you, you still have a way to get to your bag,” said Sidhu.
The Airbolt will retail for $99.95 and has been specially designed so that there’s no need to ever buy a new battery. Sidhu says it’s a buy and keep item, that would typically last on one charge for a whole year.
Sidhu and the Airbolt team are now looking at distribution partners for each region and aim to manufacture 50,000 units a month to be shipped worldwide. Currently the product is growing organically, and with the completion of the Kickstarter campaign, Sidhu is looking to finding investors and partnering with airlines to make the Airbolt the one and only smart lock travellers will ever need.
Image: Kabir Sidhu. Source: Supplied