Iterating Locks & Keys

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Considering there are iron skeleton keys that still turn door locks in medieval castles, you’d think the technology was more than ready for disruption with the swipe of a digital app.

Turns out it’s more complicated than that.

“Mechanical key systems have always had limitations in solving the problem of access control, especially for large systems,” explained Peter Siklosi, a product manager at Assa Abloy. “Keys can be lost without a reliable way of blocking access for those in locks, and there’s no traceability.”

In order to replace such systems with digital locks requires power, however, and you don’t want to have to install or change batteries in locks, especially in doors that aren’t used heavily (or are found in extremes of weather). Many doors don’t rely on knobs, whether for design or functional reason, which means keys are needed as tools to provide torque.

These facts raise intriguing arguments for looking at innovation that combines the benefits of digital and physical locks.

In 2002, Assa Abloy introduced CLIQ, which gave small systems the ability to program cylinders to enable or block keys. The battery to power the system was in the keys, which literally activated locks when needed.

It was an immediate hit, followed by a challenge that should have been obvious…

Read the entire essay at Innovation Communicator

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