After smart TVs and smart refrigerators, the next battleground for Internet of Things technology is – the front door.
Israeli door and lock manufacturer Mul-T-Lock is marketing a new Bluetooth-based lock, which lets users create virtual “keys” on the spot to allow or deny access to homes or offices. Now owned by Swedish lock manufacturer Assa Abloy, the Yavne-based company’s ENTR system lets users control entry from a smartphone, tablet, or other Bluetooth-enabled device.
Designed to be retrofitted into existing doors, the ENTR system lets users lock or unlock doors from their device – or to create or disable “virtual keys” using the ENTR app. The virtual key consists of a series of letters, numbers, and signals – a key code, essentially – that is registered with the lock, enabling access to users who punch in the numbers correctly. The keys can be permanent, or created on the fly, to allow entry for one-time visitors or “latchkey kids” who come home when their parents are out.
The app can also bar anyone – even if they have a valid code – from entering during specific scheduled times. And, it can schedule the door to unlock itself at a specific time – perfect, for example, for Sabbath-observant Jews who won’t use the app on Shabbat (the system also allows use of a physical key for those users).
The guts of the system are based on algorithms developed by Freescale, a US chip maker that has a large R&D facility in Israel. IoT, according to Shmuel Barkan, director of Freescale Israel, is where chip development is going in the future, and the ENTR lock system is a good example of how the company’s technology can help build that IoT future.
“We compete against a large number of companies, but there are few as well positioned as Freescale to take advantage of the IoT future,” said Barkan. “Our chips come in all sorts of configurations, with strong versatility for IoT applications.”
IoT is especially important for Freescale, a company that has seen its fortunes rise and fall in recent years. After experiencing a major round of layoffs five years ago in order to pay down debt, the company is set to merge with Dutch chip maker NXP – a move, said Richard Clemmer, NXP Chief Executive Officer and likely CEO of the merged company, that “will be a transformative step in our objective to become the industry leader in high performance mixed signal solutions. The combination of NXP and Freescale creates an industry powerhouse focused on the high growth opportunities in the smarter world.”
For Barkan, the smart door is part of that smarter world. “Freescale is at the crossroads of the Internet of Things, partnering with smartphone app makers and industrial manufacturers around the world to develop better IoT products. We are proud to be a part of Mul-T-Lock’s smart lock innovation, which we see as a classic example of IoT technology in the smart home.”
Mul-T-Lock CEO Micha Kimchi said that he expected ENTR to be a big hit among customers, despite the fact that the idea of a smart lock may take some getting used to. “We have been vary careful to create a balance between ease of use and security, choosing the most secure and reliable components and materials in order to bring the IoT vision to the public. We are succeeding in bringing this vision to life thanks to our collaboration with Freescale. Smart locks, like smartphones and smart cards, are becoming more popular each year, and we plan to develop more products to satisfy this market.”