Ideation case study



Cycling is an extremely enjoyable physical activity and a highly practical and economical means of transportation, particularly in cities. It has the potential to reduce traffic congestion, pollution and noise, whilst at the same time it can reduce our dependency on the car, improve health, reduce stress and improve the quality of life of millions of people.

Unfortunately, bikes can be an easy target to thieves...

  • In 2011, an estimated 533,000 bikes were stolen in the UK, i.e. one per minute!
  • This translates to one in six cyclists experiencing bike theft each year!
  • It has been estimated that 66% of victims cycle less often and 24% STOP altogether
  • Conventional approaches to locking bikes with cable & D locks are easily circumvented using bolt cutters and bottle jacks respectively.
  • R&D CORE took on the challenge to come up with a highly secure, convenient and modern bike lock solution for the modern city.

Solution space exploration

The most important requirement for any bike lock solution is to offer strong theft-resistance. Nonetheless, additional requirements must be considered, such as freeing up the cyclist from the burden of heavy locks and chains. The design has to be truly functional that can be both easy and a pleasure to use.

After analysing the deficiencies of all known bike, it became apparent there was a need for a paradigm shift. We started questioning certain underlying assumptions and eventually the potential of a bike stand concept emerged.

What IF we could design a bike stand that is highly secure, modern and very easy to use? How could such a design blend in a city environment without compromising the aesthetic balance of the area?

R&D CORE's solution

Our ATLAS solution independently secures the bike's frame & wheels and is locked and unlocked using a contactless smartcard or a modern NFC-enabled smartphone.

Specifically, the concept comprises of a central stand housing (Fig. 1), which contains the necessary control electronics and two shallow pavement troughs into which the wheels are rolled. The bike frame is locked by means of a hardened shackle lock integrated on the central stand, whilst the wheels are independently secured using horizontal lock bars integrated into the troughs.

The three independent locks have an intrinsically strong resistance to the common bike thief's tools and, in combination, they create a highly secure proposition.

Scenario of Use

As a cyclist arrives to lock his bike, he places the bike in the stand and registers himself with the system by touching his phone to the stand’s NFC reader (Fig. 2). This allows the bike to be locked and, importantly, provides a one-off digital key, enabling the cyclist to later unlock the bike.

The process of locking and unlocking a bike is simple: there are no heavy, inconvenient locks for the cyclist to carry and crucially no keys to lose nor codes to forget. This is all achievable using modern cryptographic protocols and can easily be realised in an App running on a cyclist’s phone. For those without an NFC enabled mobile, a contactless smartcard will function as an alternative drop-in replacement for the NFC mobile.

The ATLAS system can be deployed by city councils, local authorities and large organisations such as hospitals, universities and large employers.



The solution lends itself to integration with existing transportation infrastructure (for example, TfL's Oyster scheme). Ideally, to encourage cycling, the cost to the cyclist should be nominal. The long-term benefits to a city will far exceed the initial costs in installing & running such a scheme.


R&D CORE has developed a highly advanced, confidential version of the above concept. If you have any inquiries or want to know more, please contact us at:

Rapid prototyping case study


Despite the advent of high end, high resolution graphic displays, (segment) Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) can be a preferred technology when component cost, ease of interface, low power and risk of obsolescence are of importance. A custom LCD requires an upfront investment to design the size, shape and position of the different segments. In addition, once the design is submitted for fabrication, the design can no longer change. With a tooling cost ranging from $1,500 to $5,000 (depending on the LCD size) and a lead time of 4+ months to receive the first parts, the design has to be perfect the first time, otherwise it can add a detrimental delay to the project's schedule.


How can someone rapid prototype the different design concepts and test them within the context of the target application so that the design cycle is shortened and the result is perfect before committing to the final order?


R&D CORE has encountered the above problem and came up with a highly effective, low cost solution. After considering a few low-tech options, such as creating stencils (films with the segment areas cut out) and placing them on a light table, we quickly gravitated towards using a smart device, such as Apple's iPod Touch. The device was linked to a computer through the WiFi network and it was set up to reproduce the computer's desktop. The iPod was then placed inside a mock-up case to simulate the end product with a display window that matched the size of the target LCD. The experiments done with this setup ranged from evaluating the visibility of the segments from different distances to optimizing the exact placement and size of the segments to create a highly pleasing aesthetic result. In addition, we determined the level of brightness our LCD required to work in different environments and tested the need for, and the effect of, special anti-glare films, tinted display windows etc. Finally, we took the prototyping one step further and updated the iPod's display in real-time in response to the product's buttons to simulate and optimize the User Interface / Experience while we were waiting for the first production parts to arrive. Therefore, the lead time for the parts introduced no delay to our schedule. The above method allowed us to test multiple iterations of the LCD design in very short time and to continue with our development without having the actual LCD in our hands. Upon receiving the actual displays, their integration to the physical product was immediate and seamless.



Thanks to this rapid prototyping method, R&D CORE created a highly organic font design that can be used on segment displays to replicate the visual quality of high end, high resolution displays. This work has resulted in R&D CORE obtaining four European Union Design Patents (No. 001354542-0001-0004). The designs are available for licensing; please, contact us for further details.