This is a story that took two years from start to finish. It started at CES 2015 when I came across Australian company Dog & Bone (the name is Australian slang for "telephone") while walking around the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Amidst the various phone cases on display was a Bluetooth-enabled padlock. That's nothing new, but the weatherproof design caught my attention. It was still a concept at that time, but it had potential. At the time, I had asked if they also had a travel version, and they indicated that one was in the works.
Fast forward two years, and I received notification that the travel padlock, called LockSmart Travel, was finally available for US$60 each. Ever found yourself rushing before a meeting to unpack your suitcase, only to discover that you can't find your lock's key? That's happened to me many times. Or been half way around the world and no matter how hard you try, cannot recall that dreaded password or digit combination? I've experienced that, too, ending up having to call home to get the password and digit combination. With the LockSmart Travel, because the phone's Bluetooth connection becomes the key, you'll never misplace your keys again, unless you lose your phone.
What's more, you can simply push a button on the lock to open it when your phone is within Bluetooth range, so you don't even need to take the phone out of your backpack or pocket and open the app in order to unlock it, which is cool. Even cooler is the shared access capability that would allow me to, for example, send an unlock code to my daughter so she could get into my bag to get something she needs, even if I'm out on the road while she's still in the hotel. For corporate use, there's also the ability to manage multiple locks from the one app, and track the use to see who went into it and where. This could be convenient for colleagues who are using them to secure work-related documents in a hotel suite, for example, or trade show booth.
Setting up the padlock is very easy. Download the LockSmart app, set the app to pair-mode, press the power button on the padlock, and about a minute later, the padlock will be paired and you can name it in the app. You need to do this one padlock at a time if you have multiple. In my case, however, one of the padlocks refused to be linked to the app, stating that was "invalid or belongs to someone else." No amount of retries fixed the problem. I haven't yet heard back from the company as to what might have caused this issue.
I installed a pair of the TSA-approved padlocks on two pieces of my luggage for a recent trip to Indonesia. The suitcases were going to be sent through Toronto to Los Angeles and Singapore before reaching their final destination. And then back again. After my travels, there wasn't a single scratch on the painted finish of the padlocks, despite the luggage undoubtedly being thrown around on its journey, reinforcing Dog & Bone's claims that the locks are weather-resistant (and pretty durable, too). The battery compartment on each padlock remained securely intact, and I could open and close them without issue. In addition to travels to and from the airports, I also always locked my luggage every time I left my hotel room.
My only concern: what happens if the batteries die in the middle of the trip? It's easy in North America to buy CR2016 batteries (albeit at about $12 per pair for the Energizer brand). But not so much in Asia. I specifically allotted some time during my five-day trip in Indonesia to look for CR2016 batteries, and I couldn't find them. If you're traveling overseas, it's a good idea to keep a spare battery in your suitcase. But what I really wish is that Dog & Bone would include regular keys as a back up.
I also wonder, why not use a rechargeable battery instead? That said, even though the battery is replaceable they should last for quite some time. Plus, there's a fail safe feature that will let you know via the app when the battery is running low, so you can grab a replacement before your trip.
Overall, I'm very happy with the fit and finish of the padlock. The durability is also commendable (LAX in LA and the CGK airport in Jakarta are notorious for banging up luggage). Aside from the fact that I still can't use one of the padlocks and my battery cost anxieties, I still strongly recommend these LockSmart Travel padlocks. They are so convenient to use especially for someone like me who tends to mix up my keys and forget my password and digit combinations often. Who needs that extra stress when you're travelling?
Now if only I could get my third padlock working.
Dog & Bone products are available in Canada through BC-based Hitfar Concepts.