The experience that Erica Gao accumulated in product design could be traced back to her junior year at UC Berkeley, where she designed the Everlock bike lock that doubles as a seatpost with two mechanical engineering students. The lock was seen as an ultimate solution for all the problems related to bike locks as well as the very first page of Gao's career path as a product designer.
The EverLock consists of a seat, a crossbar that doubles as the actual seatpost and a U-shaped shackle that can easily slide into the two holes on the crossbar's backside. The shackle can be locked or unlocked from the crossbar by inserting or removing the key from the keyhole. Users are able to customize the Everlock such as replacing the seat.
The Everlock simply serves as the seatpost when riding. Once the rider wants to lock it up, the Everlock will be released from the seat tube of the bike frame using an included quick-release lever and then be used like a regular U-shaped lock, which effectively keeps the thieves away since both the saddle and the seatpost are the lock itself. And customers no longer need to carry the lock around.
"The idea came when one of my friends Andrew had his bike seat stolen after he locked his bike front wheel to the bars nearby," Gao says, "he bought another U-lock to lock his seat to the seatpost, but the consequence was that he had to carry 2 U-locks around in his backpack that's already full of books and papers."
The team tested all the existing bike locks in the market but was unable to find a solution that's strong enough and could be carried around easily. Additionally, they also found out after several rounds of interviews that not being able to track the location of the bike in regards to theft is another major concern bike owners have.
"We went through multiple iterations and user feedback sessions to finally arrive at one design that meets all of our requirements," Gao shares, "and this design needs to be both convenience and modularity oriented."
Besides the idea of making the seat part of the lock in response to the problem of carrying it around and getting stolen, the team also came up with the idea of installing a GPS chip inside the Everlock so users can have live updates about the current location of their bikes. The chip was empowered by a battery that was designed to last three years and tested to meet strict tamper and element standards.
This bike lock solution presented by three college students had drawn a lot of attention from the media like New Atlas. And Gao also got to present the problem and solutions to the design and engineering team at Ford Greenfield Lab as a modern solution to mobility and bike safety concerns.The ideology of going pragmatic instead of theoretical was seen as a hint to further school projects by the UC Berkeley faculties.