Door entry technology is increasingly replacing lock and key systems

  • 15 Apr 2014

For centuries, lock and key systems have been used to access buildings and it is fair to say they have changed relatively little over that time. The principle of gaining entry to a home or office – the simple act of putting a key in a lock and turning it – is much the same now as it was a couple of hundred years ago.

Heavy duty code operated locks are suitable when limiting access to high-traffic, security sensitive areas

But, as with many other aspects of modern life, technology is altering the way things have traditionally been done and we’re now seeing a new range of products gaining a significant foothold in the security market.

These products – notably code and biometric locks, along with other standalone innovations – are providing reasonably priced and aesthetically pleasing solutions which even the most hardened technophobe can get to grips with. Perhaps, most importantly, they offer real quality and a new dimension in keeping premises safe and secure.

The territory occupied by the traditional key has been muscled into before but products such as entry card systems, which have become popular in business and office environments, are seemingly becoming flawed.

These radio-frequency identification (RFID) cards can, of course, be lost or stolen and now it appears they can be cloned too. Security expert Fran Brown has invented a device which does just that, while pointing out that every single one of America’s 500 biggest corporations uses RFID readers to control access to their offices. It is therefore unsurprising that secure door entry trends are now pointing towards the next level of sophistication.

Code operated locks are available in a variety of shapes and sizes and several versions can be purchased for around £15 to £30. These models tend to be easy to fit and simple to use and are generally suited to doors which aren’t being accessed on a frequent basis.

Heavy duty code operated locks are suitable when limiting access to high-traffic, security sensitive areas. Some models are suitable for interior and exterior doors and the option of setting up one-time user codes makes it particularly useful for large organisations including hospitals and schools.

Variations on the code operated theme include touchscreen devices and backlit keypads, while space-saving is the name of the game when it comes to locks featuring buttons on door handles, meaning no need for potentially bulky keypads.

Biometric fingerprint sensors have been incorporated into a variety of technological devices, notably in unlocking mobile phones and they have now made their way into the field of security solutions.

This is where visions of sci-fi and Star Trek can start to take hold but, in reality, these locks fit most traditional wooden doors and can operate through the use of humble AA batteries. They are also well suited to high-traffic commercial premises, with products designed for use internally and externally, with a sliding cover protecting the fingerprint reader from dust and moisture and fingerprint recognition creating a digital code for authorised entry.

It is possible for a doorbell to be pressed and for the property owner to speak to the person at the door remotely on a mobile or landline

It is also worth noting that door entry kits are moving with the times to the extent that even the simple doorbell is being transformed. With both security and convenience being sought by consumers, it is now possible for a doorbell to be pressed and for the property owner to speak to the person at the door remotely on a mobile or landline, meaning deliveries don’t need to be missed even if the recipient is miles away from the building.

Overall, even though door entry systems are increasingly becoming more sophisticated, that doesn’t mean they are difficult to install or particularly expensive. Products can be found which suit pretty much any budget and cater for the needs of a diverse range of users, from domestic to business and commercial.

As with most of the gadgets and gizmos we find ourselves using in 2014, the technology is now here to stay and is only likely to develop further. So, while the range of entry systems increases, the future of the traditional lock and key begins to look increasingly bleak.

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