11.05.2015

Say goodbye to your key chain! Technology that opens doors

Imagen | August

Tired of losing your keys? Don’t worry, technology has come to the rescue once again. Thanks to smartphones we can lock and unlock all kinds of doors with just a touch of a finger. We might be able to rid ourselves of heavy key chains that weigh us down sooner rather than later, and move all of that power into one device.

In Spain there are several companies working on this technology: JustIN, for example, is an application that has been developed by Salto Systems, and lets customers lock and unlock doors from their mobile phones. This app is now being used by the hotel Astoria 7 de San Sebastián, where the reception desk can now ‘send keys’ to guests to download on their smartphones.

Bluetooth-based technologies that ‘provide access’

JustIN’s technology, based on Bluetooth LE, can be adapted to existing locks — reducing the investment needed to switch over to the technology. The app can also speed up the check-in process, saving time for hotel workers.

Other services may require the installation of a special device in the lock. One such example is August, a smart lock that can be controlled from mobile phones. The app allows you to manage permanent keys for family members, as well as temporary keys for guests and domestic services.

Another option is Kevo. If you download the app (available for Android and iOS), you won’t even need to take the phone out of your pocket — the door opens by just touching it to the lock. If you’re still not convinced by these door opening apps, check out the Spanish Lightbee: you point the camera flash to the lock and enter a password, and when the phone starts flashing the door opens.

Meanwhile, at Starwood hotels in the United States, it is now possible to open rooms with an iPhone or iWatch and Bluetooth. The process is identical to JustIN: the key is downloaded to the iPhone, the app tells us the room number, and you don’t even need to check in at the reception desk.

NFC keys

If you don’t like opening locks with a mobile phone, you can do it with something more discreet: the NFC Ring from NFC technology. The Kickstarter sensation  not only unlocks  doors, but also phones.

And don’t forget VingCard, another key that works with this type of technology and is used in many hotels, such as the Porta Firal in Barcelona, which was the official accommodation of MWC in 2013, where iattendees could unlock room doors with their phones. Again, the key is downloaded directly to the phone, which must be swiped across the hotel room door.

‘Keyless’ cars

Hotels, houses, telephones… are we missing anything? Of course, cars, which we have been opening for years now without a physical key. The new Ford EcoSport works with wireless technology. Equipped with a keyless system, it detects the presence of an associated remote control within 1.5 meters and automatically opens the doors. Inside the vehicle, the Ford Power system detects the control and, with the press of a button, starts or stops the engine.

With the application Car2go, available for iOS and Android, it is possible to find, reserve and unlock any car registered with the service. They have a fleet of 12,400 vehicles in 29 cities in Europe, the United States and Canada.

In addition to Car2go, which is preparing to launch in Spain, there are other vehicle services using similar apps in cities such as Barcelona, Seville and Madrid. Those startups, such as Avancar, Respiro or Bluemove are making a large number of vehicles available that can be opened directly with the app or with a special card.

Companies and individuals are using these convenient new technologies that also raise some new questions. For example, what if the phone runs out of battery? Will you have to sleep outside? Precautions also need to be taken against theft or loss. These are interesting dilemmas that only time will answer.