The Zurich start-up Airbie has developed a connected Smart Bike Lock. A premiere in Switzerland.

“There is no key. We install the application and can use the Smart Lock,” explains Christian Raemy, founder of the start-up Airbie, which was founded in Zurich in 2018. This lock avoids the risk of losing your key as you can unlock it with your smartphone. The start-up is the first company to develop this technology in Switzerland.

The inventor of the idea, Christian Raemy, is an expert in new technologies, programming and mobile applications. He is a graduate of EPFL and ETH Zurich and responsible for the development of software, electronics and mechanics. The second, Philipp Zollinger, is a specialist for the finance and fintech sector in sales and marketing. Together they designed this kind of networked Smart Lock, which already exists abroad in a similar form – mostly without GPS – as the Danish models of Donkey Republic.

The technology was developed for the bike-sharing industry, which already exists in several Swiss cities. The Smart Lock was developed with the aim of advancing the Sharing Economy. It is attached to the bicycle and then shared among users via an app. Christian Raemy has also developed Admin & Smart City Analytics software so that cities can efficiently manage their bicycle fleets. The principle of Smart Locks – mostly used for electric bicycles – is simple. These open via Bluetooth and have a GPS tracker to locate the bike, which is an additional safety measure. “Since the price of electric bicycles is high, people prefer to rent them rather than buy them. As they are expensive bicycles, it is very important to have information about their location,” explains the engineer.

“The advantage of a so-called free-floating system is that bicycles can be picked up and parked anywhere, not just in predefined zones. We see that people like to use it, especially in spring and summer,” explains Christian Raemy. For a price of 250 to 300 Swiss francs, this lock is currently not intended for individuals, but for cities that want to invest in the safety and efficiency of their bicycle fleets. “We are currently working on industrialisation to reduce production costs as much as possible,” explains the founder of the start-up.

Airbie has entered into a partnership with the city of Zug to start marketing and deploying its Smart Locks. The Smart Lock is the only one of its kind on the Swiss market. The Smart Locks of the two young entrepreneurs, available since November 2018, could be used on public bicycle fleets in other cities, especially in western Switzerland. However, their ambitions do not end at the Swiss borders, as demand could extend to Germany, Austria and France.