Schlage is adding an automated twist to its well-known door locks: a wireless, Internet-enabled product that can be locked, unlocked and monitored via PC, cell phone, or any other device with a Web browser.
The product is based on Schlage's line of keypad locks, "which outsold all competitive locks within the first year of being officially launched," according to Dwight Gibson, general manager, Intelligent Residential Security, for Ingersoll Rand, the parent company of Schlage.
Gibson says that, after the release of the original electronic locks, customers responded, "Wow, it would really be great to manage these things remotely!"
Hence the forthcoming automated versions.
The new products will have two-way Z-Wave RF technology
built in. The battery-operated locks communicate with a Z-Wave gateway that connects to any broadband router.
The gateway serves up Web pages that allow users to remotely access the locks. From there, anything is possible: lock or unlock the doors; see who came and went…and when; schedule notification of comers and goers; create and disable passcodes....
Up to 256 devices can be accessed through a single Z-Wave gateway.
In the past, remote-controllable door locks have had some problems in the residential market because door bolts don't always tend to align correctly – you have to lift or push or otherwise manipulate the door to get the bolt to latch or unlatch.
But Schlage offers the electronic locks (the original and forthcoming Z-Wave versions) for traditional knobs and levers as well as
"Since you don't have to throw the bolt, you don't have that issue," Gibson says. "You don't have to worry about alignment."
On the outside, the new locks will look "pretty similar" to the originals, says Gibson. "Inside will be pretty different because you need to get RF in the lock."
As for the RF, Schlage selected Z-Wave for "the maturity of it and functionality," Gibson says.
It also consumes very little power, so the batteries can last up to three years.
Despite having RF capabilities, however, the door locks will not have companion keyfobs or other handheld RF device for unlocking the door, say, when you're carrying a couple arm-fulls of groceries.
"I'm not saying it won't be done down the road," says Gibson, "but instead of having another thing in their hand, they [users] can take advantage of things they already have in their hand, like a cell phone."
Presumably, though, since Z-Wave is a standards-based protocol, other Z-Wave-compatible controllers could operate the locks.
Locking up the Future
The Z-Wave entry system should be available in the fourth quarter of this year, and Schlage is "looking at a bunch of different channels" for delivering the product to market, Gibson says.
He won't divulge a price but says it will be "affordable." The non-Z-Wave electronic locks retail for about $150.
The solution is part of a larger initiative of "trying to pick up the pace in innovation" within Ingersoll Rand's $2.5 billion security technology business, says Gibson.
Products in that group, he explains, have been "predominantly mechanical, more recently electronic, and now we're looking to connect to the network,"
For his part, Gibson came from Ingersoll Rand's Kryptonite Lock
division, which is also part of the security business. So are Web-enabled bike locks in the company's future?
Gibson gives us a noncommittal "maybe," adding, "We're definitely looking at some interesting things."