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LEAD Innovation Blog

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Date: 10-Okt-2018
Posted by: Michael PUTZ

Smart door locks turn doors into intelligent helpers


Smart Home is on everyone's lips - but intelligent apartments and houses can also be entered through the entrance door. There are already many easy-to-install solutions on the market today that turn your entrance door into intelligent access systems. Read in this article which new functions smart door locks have to offer, how they and their installation work, who offers them and why key services will not be pleased with them. 

Entrance doors of apartments and houses have two important functions: to grant access to residents and to deny access to uninvited persons. The key to this is if we disregard the little-used pin code or finger scanner solutions. But keys also have decisive disadvantages: they can be forgotten, lost and stolen - and you usually only notice this when you stand in front of your locked entrance door. If you have forgotten your smartphone, you will usually notice it within minutes.

Invention, no innovation

Smart door locks solve some of these key problems. However, if innovations are to be understood as invention plus market success, then the solutions described here are none at all. Smart door locks combine the proven locking mechanism with modern communication technology. But everyone still has to prove its success on the market, especially in Europe. Some of the solutions described are not yet available. Despite this, smart door locks have the potential to open up completely new horizons. Horizons that are not visible from a key perspective: 

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The virtual bouncer

Sometimes even little keys get on your nerves. For example, when you complete your morning run in tight functional underwear during the warm season. Front door keys have the annoying habit of either pressing or rattling. Thanks to a smart door lock, you can also leave the house without a key. Provided you have your smartphone with you. But who hasn't?


Unlocking made easy

A child in her arms and a full shopping bag in the other hand? Sometimes two hands are not enough. Smart door locks open even if you and your smartphone only come near your door. This means there is no need to park the child and shopping bag, search hand and trouser pockets for keys, prevent the child from running away and prevent the shopping bag from falling over. Because the buckle of an unlocked apartment door can also be opened with the elbows if necessary.


Sending the open front door

Your cleaner wants to enter the apartment? Doesn't have a key? And you are already active in your office? Using a smartphone app, you can send the person a virtual key - via app, SMS or e-mail. The app also shows to whom you have already sent a virtual key. You can withdraw or limit your entry entitlement at any time by app. You can run this active key management from anywhere in the world - all you need is an Internet connection. 


Input and output accurately logged

Smart door locks are also intelligent because you know who left or entered the house and when. This can have far-reaching consequences: A working mother gets a message when her school-age child has come home.

Adolescents will appreciate this function less: Because asserting to the parents that they had already been home at one o'clock in the morning, as agreed, and not at 4.30 a.m., is pointless. Smart door locks record mercilessly.


No effort for smart door locks

Even if these advantages are convincing. Replacing door locks or even front doors will probably only come to few people's minds. Fortunately, this is not necessary at all. Smart door locks can be installed quite simply. How this works is shown by means of a solution from Austria: the Nuki-Smartlock, which works via Bluetooth.


Intelligence is on the inside

With Nuki you can continue to use your front door key and only have to attach the so-called keyturner to the inside of your front door. The conversion is also possible for laymen within three minutes. Once installed, you have to configure the Keyturner with the Nuki-App via Bluetooth. Now you can open your entrance door via smartphone, Smartwatch, the Bluetooth keychain Nuki Fob and even with your familiar front door key. You can also open the lock from the inside by pressing the button on the keyturner or by turning the cylinder.


Additional model for the web

With an additional device, the Nuki Bridge, your door lock can then also be managed remotely via the Internet. The device requires a connection to power and WLAN so that it is permanently accessible via the web.


App as headquarters

Nuki is centrally controlled via the associated app, which is available for Android smartphones and Apple iOS. Via Bluetooth, GPS and GeoFence, Nuki recognizes when you are on your way home and locks the door for you. The app "knows" when you are at home and does not perform any locking operations. This is useful, for example, if you are taking a shower and your neighbour, who has active access authorisation to feed cats, is just about to enter your home.


Smart door locks do not require an unlocking service

You will be pleased about exactly this access authorisation if you are in front of your own front door both without a smartphone and without a key. Because thanks to this access authorisation, your neighbour can open the door for you. However, you can also re-enter your home by calling the emergency hotline. In the future, you can therefore do without the often expensive service of a locksmith.


As secure as online banking

Open the front door with a smartphone and the web - of course, security concerns arise right away, and hackers are already standing in front of their minds with their laptops to crack the door lock. The Nuki-makers make two weighty arguments here. Firstly, it is not obvious from the outside that you are using a smart door lock, because the keyturner is only mounted on the inside of the front door. And communication is protected by encryption mechanisms that are also common in online banking.


Europe as a market

By the way, Nuki is a successful crowdfunding project that has already reached its financing target of 125,000 euros within one day. In total, 2,038 supporters raised 385,524 Euros. The Nuki products can already be pre-ordered and are to be launched this year. Nuki addresses the European market. The locking mechanism of entrance doors in the USA, for example, works differently.

The Danish manufacturer Danalock offers a system that can also be used in this country and is already available. The system and the range of functions is quite comparable to Nuki, only the installation requires a little bit more effort.


Door opening with voice command

The startup Lockitron, which is still in the financing phase, and the two providers Goji Lock and August Smart Lock turn to the US market. The latter product is designed in such a way that it can also be opened and closed with voice input (siri) in the future. So the protagonist of the US series Knight Rider, David Hasselhoff, can use his often used in the film cry for help "get me out of here, K.I.T.T. " apparently soon in a modified form in everyday life. At "Please unlock me, house" there is no black painted Pontiac Firebird Trans Am around the corner, but the automatic opening of the front door is much more practical in "real life" anyway. Also for David Hasselhoff.


Conclusion: Smart door locks

The door is always a neuralgic point of an apartment or house. With just a few simple steps and a relatively small investment, you can make yours intelligent. The features offered by solutions on the market or soon to be released are only a small sample of the many functions that smart door locks could offer. Thanks to suitable interfaces, your intelligent entrance door can also be combined with other apps. A theoretically possible but not yet existing scenario: Your fitness app won't let you back into the apartment, because you haven't walked for 45 minutes despite the wonderful weather, as your training plan provides. If you are smart, take your key to morning sports with you despite the smart door lock.

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Michael PUTZ

Born in the Salzkammergut. After working for Shell and Porsche, he concentrated on innovation management as a study assistant at the Innovation Department of the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. In 2003 he founded LEAD Innovation and manages the company as Managing Partner. Lectures at MIT, in front of companies like Google or NASA.

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