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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

USC Students Engineer Bluetooth Bike Locks

USC students have the key to all of your bike problems.

A group of young entrepreneurs here at USC have an idea that could be the key to all your bike lock problems.

“We’re working on the Lavalock, which is a bike lock installation,” says freshman Jenny Zhang. “It’s supposed to be mounted on the back of bikes and it’s supposed to replace traditional U-locks so you never have to take it off and put it back in your bag and put it back it. It will just install one time on your bike and lock that way.”

“I think we found the idea just because we saw how frustrating it was to lock your bike,” says co-partner Drake Rehfeld.

Freshman Jenny Zhang and Drake Rehfeld, in partnership with sophomore and fellow team member Sagar Punhani, are members of Lavalab, a USC club that allows entrepreneurs across all majors to design cool new products. It was in Lavalab that this trio designed Lavalock, which you can open and close via a bluetooth app on your phone.

“It just clamps around the wheel when you walk away from the bike,” says Rehfeld. “And opens up when you come back near and unlock it with the app.”

Although Zhang and Rehfeld say this kind of high-tech lock already exists, Lavalock will stand out.

“We’ve researched it and there’s a lot of much more high-end expensive bike locks that do a lot of things,” says Zhang. “They’re like $120, $80, they’re a lot more than a bicycle on campus, and so our goal is to bring this technology to bike locks, but also making it affordable for students on the campus.”

They also say that their Lavalock shines in comparison to standard U-locks.

“It’s a lot simpler, a lot easier to use and it’s probably going to be around the same price range,” says Zhang.

The trio is making a 3D model of the lock tonight and they plan to have a full-blown prototype by the end of the fall semester.

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