Matthias Steinig, a German programmer, has developed a new mechanism that allows e-bikes to be rented in exchange for payments on the bitcoin Lightning Network. A prototype built using a modified bicycle is already fully functional and has been demonstrated on Twitter.
See the Twitter video below:
Hey, here's the promised video of using the lightning-bike, hope you like it! pic.twitter.com/ul2gBXc2id
— Matthias Steinig ⚡ (@leblitzdick) October 12, 2018
How does it work?
The project involves a device connected to the bike that controls the flow of electricity depending on whether or not a payment has been made.
The payment process only requires the user to scan a QR code with their mobile phone and can be completed without any technical knowledge.
Here’s where the Lightning Network kicks in – The primary advantage of the Lightning Network is the ability to complete bitcoin transactions within a few seconds instead of minutes. Since the payment mechanism has been built on top of the same infrastructure, there is very little delay between an individual initiating payment and being able to use the bike almost instantly.
From the project’s official documentation, “You select on the display how long you want to drive, get a QR code that you scan and pay for with your lightning mobile app, after that the power for the selected period is turned on.” Once the time runs out, the user can pay for another refill or pedal the bike at no charge.
Open source ftw!
The project, simply titled “Lightning Bike,” is detailed in full on GitHub and has been made open source for others to use. Furthermore, almost every single component used is readily available off the shelf or from an online supplier.
The only customized parts involved are the project’s code and a 3D printed enclosure to house all the electronic circuitry.
At its core, the accompanying device uses a Raspberry mini computer that controls both the connection to the mobile network and the switching of the power supply through an attached relay.
The onboard computer communicates with a remote server over the internet that hosts the Lightning Network payment infrastructure. The server first sends a QR code to the bike, which is shown on the display. Once the user completes the payment using a Lightning Network-enabled wallet app on their smartphone, the server notifies the device. A relay, essentially an electrically operated switch, connected to the Raspberry Pi then provides power for a brief period.
We’ve been seeing a lot of technologies slowly implementing the Lightning Network in their core concept. The efficiency and speed improvements of the Lightning Network over traditional on-chain payments can potentially enable widespread adoption of bitcoin, especially in the retail sector.