The versatile (and for many decades – if not centuries – boring) padlock has been a mainstay of industrial and residential physical security for many years. According to WikiPedia, padlocks date to the Roman Era, 500 BC – 300 AD. During the period between 850 AD and the early 1000 AD was when the name ‘padlock’ was coined. This stalwart security device in recent years has started to evolve into an even more versatile form: the modern high tech padlock. This new category of padlocks are known by several other names as well, such as smart padlocks and bluetooth locks.
Some smart or high tech padlocks fit into the category of “Internet of Things” (IoT) devices. IoT is quickly entering the mainstream of technology in both residential and commercial/Industrial applications. More specifically, industrial high tech padlocks are related to and share some features with another category of security devices that are showing strong growth in recent years: Bluetooth-enabled door locks for home security. The commonality is the ability to unlock using a wireless bluetooth connection rather than a physical key, as well as the ability to alert the user of anomalous activities. So what features are typical and important in the selection of a high tech padlock?
Typical High Tech Padlock or Smart Door Lock Features:
- Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity for local access
- A mobile app for your smartphone to lock/unlock the padlock or door
- Electronic “keys” for friends, family, authorized vendors and delivery personnel, etc. (these keys authorize other phones to open the door or padlock, sometimes only within a specified time window)
- Enhanced security to prevent lock picking and bumping
- Battery powered, which enables a door or padlock to be accessed in remote areas or when there is a power outage
In addition, there are a number of other potential features in the general category of smart locks (which includes both the high tech padlock and smart door locks):
Multiple Authentication methods
It used to be that only one authentication method was available for padlocks – the mechanical key. Keys are often lost or misplaced. A smart lock may offer a variety of authentication methods to choose from
Some smart locks use a numerical code for authentication. They usually accept combination lengths between 4 and 12 digits; they do not require users to possess any physical key to gain access.
A category of keyless smart locks scan a security token for authentication, often via a proximity card which is small enough to store in a wallet.
Biometrics are at the forefront of the smart lock revolutions, offering powerful and unique identification. Biometrics refers to any locking system (primarily door locks) using a unique, physical characteristic such as hand geometry, fingerprints, eye scans or voice scans to verify their identity for door access.
These smart authentication methods listed above are the breakthrough of the century for door locks and some are being used on high tech padlocks as well.
Additional Smart Lock Features
Smart locks have opened up a new way of thinking about locks as security devices; seemingly impossible features become possible such as:
Multiple access solutions
A number of smart locks provide multiple multiple methods to unlock a padlock or door. For example, a door can be accessed with with a PIN code even the primary method of a proximity card isn’t available.
Most smart door locks automatically lock a door after checking it is properly closed.
Some smart door locks are compatible with many burglary, vandalism and fire alarm systems.
The OpticalLock, while definitely in the High Tech Lock/Smart Lock/ Bluetooth Lock category, is somewhat of an outlier in terms of the feature set. Compared to most products in this category the feature set is much more robust and IoT focused, making it a higher level security device which is also suitable for a wider variety of applications.
- Traditional combination padlock look and feel for flexibility & security of operation
- A secure mobile app which is only available to authorized, authenticated users providing even higher levels of security with respect to who can open the lock without alarms being set off
- Tamper-detection capability based upon patented OpticalShield™ technology which also prevents the duplication or counterfeiting of any OpticalLock
- Strong encrypted communications protocols (AE256) to provide secure verification of non-tampering and protection of all data
- The OpticalLock Padlock has a variety of on-board sensors which trigger real-time alarms with remote alerts to authorized personnel, adding a valuable layer of protection for high value goods from tampering 24/7
- GPS tracking capability to enable constant, real-time location of high value cargo in transportation-oriented applications (not included on all models)
- Lower cost WiFi-enable models suitable for stationary applications, such as storage closets and warehouse cages
- A variety of communications options such as GSM/GPRS,Bluetooth,WiFi which can be included based upon application requirements, providing flexible verification that the lock can be opened without setting off an alarm, as well as for alerting and data transfer
- Web-based management console software to manage locks in real-time, as well as providing rich data sets for operational and security planning/analysis and an audit trail for compliance purposes
- APIs to enable integration with external 3rd party application software such as supply chain, security, warehouse management and transportation planning software
You can get more information on the OpticalLock System or details on our product line using these links. Contact us using the form if you’d like to ask specific questions. We’d love to hear from you if you have questions about high tech padlocks in general or the OpticalLock specifically.