Doorlocks: are you in or are you out? 9. July 2021    |    IoT

Charles Dickens once said:

“A very little key will open a very heavy door.” Little did he know back in the 1800s that there will come a day when no physical key will be needed to open a door. Regardless of how heavy the door is and perhaps does not even have an actual keyhole.

In the previous post we’ve talked about the IoT applications and how NFC technology drives the development. Today we want to go deeper and explore one of the key IoT applications (pun intended).

Smart home, smart lock, smart phone

Did you know that the first smart home technology can be traced back to 1975? I didn’t. I wasn’t even born then, and people were already developing a home automation platform, X10, that was sending digital information through radio frequency bursts via a home’s existing electrical wiring.

Back then this technology was limited and available only to early adopters and wealthy people, this is definitely not the case anymore. It took awhile for the concept to be picked up by the giants of the electronics industry. Driven by the adoption of the internet and connected devices, in 2014 Apple and Amazon threw in their hats into the smart home ring – by creating the Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa.

Smart locks. Where do they fit in?

Would a smart home be complete without a smart lock? I don’t think so. And since we’ve already accepted the digitization of a large  part of our lives, such as payment, identification, communication, – it would only be natural to digitalize locks and keys as well.

Even though safety has a paramount importance when talking about switching from “physical” to “digital” keys and locks, what actually attracts customers and end users is the convenience. Just how much more convenient it is to pull out a phone out of your pocket, rather than a) looking for your keys (shoutout to all the women out there with the pandora boxes instead of purses) b) going through the 10th key while looking for the one you need.

It doesn’t even have to be your phone, it can be a smart watch, a plastic card that fits nicely within your wallet, a smart ring, or any other tokenized device – like a keychain fob. And yes – all of that can be and is powered by NFC.

NFC for smart locks

While NFC is not yet the most popular protocol used for the smart locks, it has gained significant traction over the last few years. NFC chips are effective in communication over short distances and at the same time require very little energy ideal for applications that have to show intent such as access control. It would be enough to supply the NFC enabled lock with just a couple of batteries for it to function for a few months, even years.

And as the smart locks would function as an active NFC device, the “key” can be passive, it doesn’t need a power source to work. Due to the electromagnetic inductance and other technical magical voodoo, NFC makes the process of unlocking doors as easy as 1 – 2 – open. In addition, you can share a digital key on a cell phone with a time stamp to give access to a family member, friend or cleaner.

Not only can you use smart locks to actually lock and open doors, but you can also analyse the information you get out of the system. You can have more control over monitoring and management, see who has access, you can grant and revoke permissions to enter certain areas, you could control it remotely, from a web or mobile interface.

And while it sounds nice, NFC in smart locks is not as widely known as other technologies such as Bluetooth, which is a shame considering that over 1 billion smart phones a year are manufactured with NFC built in, as well smart watches, fitness trackers, etc. So it won’t be long till it takes off and when it does – you want to make sure you’re on the right side of the door.

Panthronics’ PTX100R delivers unique advantages to the smart lock industry and customers. High output power and high sensitivity ensures high reading distance for the best customer experience​, while our Direct Antenna connection brings optimal interoperability with different cards and digitalized tokens. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

Keep on reading and stay tuned!

Author: Evgeniia Vinogradova 

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