The humble Padlock hasn’t seen innovation for decades, but that’s all changing with new keyless padlocks that leverages Bluetooth to secure your valuables. Padlocks are a great solution when you need to secure sheds, gates, fences, bikes and even just keeping the kids out of the kitchen cupboards. While padlocks have worked fine, we’re about to hit 2016 and we can get a lot smarter about physical security than we have in the past.
The Dog & Bone Locksmart is a Bluetooth padlock that is weatherproof, not weather resistant, properly weatherproof, that means rain, hail, snow and sunshine is not a problem, with a temperature rating that exceeds almost every other electronic device I’ve used. Great for use between -20c up to a staggering 70c, if you’re opening this lock in 70 degrees, make sure you’re wearing 3 pairs of gloves. This weatherproofing, makes it great in indoor and outdoor locations.
Even better is the feature that allows multiple user access, complete with tracking of who opened it and when. Imagine you have a garden shed in the back yard, you need to protect against intruders jumping the fence and stealing your assets, so a padlock makes plenty of sense. But if that garden shed not only holds the lawn mower, but also the kids cricket set, they may need to access it.
Given most teenagers (even pre-teens) now have smart phones, you can provide them access to the padlock, allowing the right people in, while keeping the bad guys out. This is one of the lock’s biggest successes and shows a meaningful reason for the Bluetooth inside, over the typical padlock that ships with 2 keys that are easily copied.
Security & Battery life
The Locksmart uses 128-bit encryption, the highest available with the current Bluetooth spec, which means cracking the security, isn’t something you need to be concerned with. Naturally the smart lock does need power so you’re next concern is likely to be around the situation where you want access, but your lock is flat. It is quite a different world to live in where you have to remember to charge you padlock, but for the features this offers, its worth the hassle. That hassle of recharging shouldn’t come up very often as they claim up to 2 years on average before you’ll need to recharge it.
If you do need to recharge, my tip (if its dry) would be to hang one of the mobile phone charging banks off the lock, via a USB cable.
This battery life is largely obtained from the decision to only switch on Bluetooth when absolutely necessary. That means most of the time it remains off, with the user simply folding back a rubber flap in the base of the lock, revealing a button to turn on Bluetooth and a micro-USB port for charging. Once you push the button, an LED will flash, letting you know its time to fire up the mobile app and tap the unlock button.
This is certainly a couple more steps that approaching a lock, inserting a key, turning it and gaining access. For some, these extra steps may feel like too many to make it all worth it. In terms of that decision, it raises that age old tension between security and convenience. Almost always we need to compromise on convenience to get better security and this is a great example of that.
Once you tap the unlock button, something magical happens. This is the same feeling I got when I first turned on smart bulbs from my phone. It is the satisfying sensation of doing something virtually (tapping a button on screen) and having that result in real-world actions. In this instance, the lock pops open with purpose. The first time I did this, I must have repeated it at least half a dozen more times, there’s something oddly great about it. In reality, if you own this lock, you’ll get past that quickly and get down to the business of securing your property.
If you’re security concerns also extend to someone stealing your phone and knowing where this lock is in the world (unlikely, but possible), then there’s even the capacity to use your fingerprint as the authentication to unlock, instead of simple launching the app and tapping to unlock. This is a fantastic feature, especially given more smartphones are adding fingerprint readers.
When it comes to downsides of the Dog & Bone Locksmart, there aren’t many. If I had to knock it for something, it’d be the weight, there’s no two bones about it, its heavy. With a die-cast zinc allow 65mm body and 8mm stainless steel shackle, its easy to see why it weighs as much as it does, that said, its not the kind of thing you’d hand to your kid without worrying they’ll drop it on their foot and do some damage.
Suggestions for improvement
I would love to see the addition of NFC in the Locksmart, this could provide a faster, more simpler, tap and unlock experience. If I had one final criticism about this smart lock, it’d be that it doesn’t work with IFTTT, which is basically the service that is the glue between manufacturers and devices. What if you wanted to turn a light on everytime the lock was unlocked, or if it was unlocked, or worse, cut off, during certain hours, to sound an alarm. Ultimately you can’t create these type of connected home experiences with the Locksmart.
If you find yourself falling in love with the Locksmart and needing to secure a bunch of locations, the app allows you to rename your lock, so calling them ‘Garden shed’, ‘Bike lock’, ‘Chocolate stash’ will easily let you interact with the appropriate one, through a single app.
Price and availability
The Locksmart Bluetooth Padlock from Dog & Bone is available from their website for A$123.87 which is absolutely is a dramatic premium over a standard padlock from Bunnings. However that extra price provides a completely different set of features than your standard lock, so while they have the same name, the comparison feels as invalid as a feature phone to a smart phone.
Overall this lock is a serious leap forward in terms of securing physical goods. The multi-user access is a fantastic inclusion, as is the support for iOS and Android devices to unlock it. The fingerprint unlock wasn’t something I was expecting, so was a pleasant surprise and its the small things like the rubber rings that adorn the sides of the lock as to preventing it from clanking against metal objects (namely sheds and bikes) that show a touch of brilliance at attention to detail in the design.
The price is certainly high, but not unreasonable for the features you get. This won’t suit everyone, especially those trying to secure goods worth less than $100, but for those who need to securely share access to physical assets across people, then this is the lock for you. The platform allows simple adding and removing of permissions, and if version 2 includes NFC, I could definitely see plenty of people sending permission for friends and family, to access the the lock on their side gate to feed pets while they’re away. For those people who share bikes, this would be an absolute gem, but again, in a situation where every gram is accounted for, the weight also needs addressing.
Let me leave you with this. I’m glad this product exists in the world, it takes a sleepy category and wakes it up. It says technology is here to disrupt you, so get ready for the ride, its going to get exciting, and fast.