Unlocking an advance in home technology

Smart home technology is still in its infancy. Operating a high-tech stereo system, lighting array or appliance no longer requires getting up off the sofa to manage settings. Some of these devices can now be controlled with an app or voice command. But none of them can anticipate a homeowner’s needs and truly simplify mundane tasks – yet.

A simple touch of the lock starts the transaction; the lock looks for an authorised smartphone and then opens the door in a flash

This next evolution of the internet of things (IoT) is burgeoning from the gateway to a home, office, even hotel room, from the front door. Instead of a key or key card, people can now securely access their home, workplace or holiday rental with nothing more than a simple touch of a lock. And with that touch, other events in the home can be triggered.

This is possible as a result of technologies developed by UniKey. The technology firm has replaced physical keys with smartphones and embedded intuitive systems inside traditional door locks.

“The technology is passive; it runs in the background,” says Dirk Wyckoff, vice president of sales and marketing at UniKey. “There’s no need to search for a key or take out a smartphone to open an app. A simple touch of the lock starts the transaction; the lock looks for an authorised smartphone and then opens the door in a flash.”

Homeowners in the UK will soon be able to upgrade their homes with next-generation smart technologies. UniKey has recently partnered with ERA, a lock manufacturer that has been securing Britain’s homes since 1838, to introduce new ERA TouchKey smart locks.

Will Butler, marketing and innovation director at ERA, says homeowners can expect the same reliable security from this new connected lock as they expect from ERA’s traditional products.

“With today’s busy lives, what people crave is simplicity, convenience and peace of mind,” he says. “The use of Touch-to-Open® technology, so you don’t have to fumble with keys, plus bulletproof security encryption means the locks on your home can be smart, and also meet the latest security standards and insurance requirements, so you really can have the mix of peace of mind and convenience.”

Enhanced security features in the ERA TouchKey smart lock powered by UniKey also enable the lock to know on which side of a door an authorised electronic key is to prevent unwanted access. This means the lock will not be triggered to open, giving access to someone outside when an authorised device is with someone at the spyhole on the inside.

Further conveniences of smart locks operating on the UniKey system include the ability for the lock to interact and communicate with other IoT devices within a space. This feature is what Mr Wyckoff believes will help drive smart home technology beyond flashy gadgets controlled by an app to intelligent device ecosystems that are able to change how they act based on particular circumstances.

For example, when a user taps a lock to open a door, a lock powered by UniKey sends a signal to a smart thermostat, such as Nest, alerting it to an arrival so settings can be adjusted automatically to each individual’s comfort preferences.

As smart technology continues to advance, homes will become more environmentally friendly and efficient, and enhance the lives of the people living within by anticipating their needs. It all begins with a simple upgrade at the front door.

For more information visit www.unikey.com or www.erahomesecurity.com