Australian mobile accessory company Dog & Bone has recently released the world's first Bluetooth controlled padlock called "LockSmart" and "LockSmart Mini". The setup is simple; download the LockSmart app, pair the lock with your smartphone via Bluetooth and voila a padlock that can be opened with the push of a button. The 128-bit encryption can be operated through three levels of security; tap to unlock (which is how I am using the product), add Touch ID so that your fingerprint opens the lock or add an actual passcode. I figure that since my phone is already password protected, adding a second passcode for my padlocks are overkill. I also like the quick one tap open.
LockSmart (on left) and LockSmart Mini (on right) flank the LockSmart iOS app
Let's say you have locked your bicycle in the garage but are on holiday overseas when you receive a text from your daughter that she'd like to ride the bike. Dog & Bone have cleverly built in to the app an opportunity for you to share a "virtual key" allowing your daughter to unlock the bike and be on her way. You can later take that access back. Think about owning a beach house that you rent out via Airbnb, where you have different guests each week wanting access to the shed with the paddleboards. You simply forward a text message with an access code to your guests and with a click from the guest's smart phone the lock opens. Once the guests are gone, they no longer have access, nor are you constantly changing locks when your guests invariably lose the physical key.
Both LockSmart and the smaller LockSmart Mini are operated by a lithium-ion battery that can go two years or as many as 3,000 opens before recharging. The app will let you know when the lock needs a charge, which is performed via a supplied micro-usb cable. Both locks can operate in temperatures to minus 20 Celsius and in the rain, both conditions I had a chance to put to the test last week in an Ontario freak storm with no dire consequences.
LockSmart Mini shown above in black
LockSmart features a die-Cast zinc alloy body at 65mm with an 8mm stainless steel shackle while the smaller LockSmart Mini features a 7mm steel shackle with a rubberized casing over the die-cast alloy body. The Mini is about half the weight of its big brother and I found it ideal for the gym, but opted for the bigger lock for securing my bike. The LockSmart Mini comes in three colours; blue, red and black while the LockSmart comes in a brushed metal finish with a rubberized red bumper deep enough to prevent any paint scratches. At the gym I felt very James Bond-esque walking in to the locker room and with one tap, seeing my locker open. Had I been carrying a case full of the locks, I'd have had them all sold to the curious on-lookers.
The LockSmart Mini in blue makes a statement at the gym
The only slight tricky bit for me, since I was testing two locks simultaneously, one had a habit of over-riding the other with my Bluetooth connectivity. The Bluetooth description for both the LockSmart and the LockSmart Mini is the same "BLE Padlock" so there was a bit of a guess to which one was actually synched. This was an easy fix by flipping my Bluetooth off and back on while pushing the connectivity button on the lock that I wantedto synch. Problem solved. In the LockSmart app you can name the lock whatever you like and there are no restrictions on how many locks can be paired to your phone but due to the nature of Bluetooth, only one can be operated at a time.
The first time we saw a car that could be opened with a push of a button instead of a key was in 1982 with the introduction of the "new" Renault Fuego. Paul Lipshultz was the Frenchman that invented the technology. Lipshulz worked for a company called Niemens that went on to invent a slew of security gadgets for the auto industry. Almost three decades later, you would be hard pressed to find a new car that doesn't have remote keyless entry.
In 1975, Norwegian Tor Sornes invented the keycard for opening hotel doors, 113 years after the modern hotel began with Le Grand Hotel in Paris in 1862. The first time we saw the demise of an actual key in favour of a plastic electronic one was in 1978 at the Westin Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta. Again, most modern travellers would be hard pressed to recall a time when the clerk at hotel reception handed a physical key upon check-in. Today, hotel swipe keycards have been replaced with key fobs that you simply touch near the door and that too has since been fined tuned with Starwood Hotels now offering a virtual smartphone key that will communicate with your hotel door via Bluetooth from your phone - no more key, no more plastic. That's progress.
In some fashion we have had alternatives to keys and combinations for close to three decades for our cars, hotel rooms and place of business, so it is really somewhat surprising that we are seeing a wireless padlock for the very first time in 2016. Having now used these Bluetooth enabled locks in various scenarios over the past week, in all sorts of weather, the thought of going back to a key or combo would be like going back to the dark ages. These locks are a keeper. An extra bonus for me, having worn glasses for most of my life, is there's no more squinting to figure out if I have dialed the combo correctly while standing with a towel around my waist.
Burnaby-based Hitfar exclusively distributes both LockSmart and LockSmart Mini in Canada. LockSmart retails for $120.00 CDN while the smaller LockSmart Mini retails for $90.00