Monday, 25 August 2014

Lockitron – Smart Keyless Entry System

Lockitron
Lockitron is a device that is capable of locking and unlocking deadbolts locks through remote control namely a smartphone. The gadget has been designed by Apigy,based in Mountain View, California, which is an easy to install app connected smart home solution that can turn any common deadbolt into a smart keyless entry system.

The device can fit over the lock control mechanism from the inside of the door while the door can be unlocked through an app on the phone or through web page control. Moreover, phones with Bluetooth Low Energy- BLE, can also unlock the door automatically when an authenticated is within range and the supplied NFC tag could be read to start a command to toggle the state of the lock.

Apigy designed Lockitron as a standalone product, based on earlier success of deadbolt replacement solutions, which can now be operational over the internet through Wi-Fi or directly from iPhone via Bluetooth 4.0. Apigy, like several hardware start-ups did encountered many problems at the time of manufacture, missed deadline due to unforeseen complications as well as quality control issues.

After successful funding campaign of two years, Lockitron has now been shipped to backer in quantity though there some minor problems with the current software with some features which were promised that seemed to be absent.

Adopted Sensor Suite with Motorized Turning Ring

Though the basic dimensions of deadbolts of US are standardized, its internal mechanics like the degree of rotation needed to activate the lock differs from each manufacturer for instance a Schlage needs a 90 degree turn to lock and unlock the bolt while products which are by Kwikset need a more substantial 120 degree turn.

To adjust the varying locking ratios, some locks have a deadbolt lever which is centrally placed in the decorative mounting plate while others place the pivot point off centre in the fascia’s lower third and to work with these roadblocks, Lockitron had adopted a sensor suite with motorized turning ring which automatically programs the locking start and stop positions, determining correct force that can also be activated by knocking.

A rubber insert grasps the deadbolt lever which can be cut or printed in 3D for an accurate fit.

Mounting Lockitron is easy, straightforward process

Mounting of the Lockitron is easy and a straightforward process which needs a Philips-head screwdriver which is included for installing purpose together with a C-shaped mounting plate which needs to be fitted between the door and decorative deadbolt plate to make a solid anchor from which Lockitron can be latched.

 The C-plate has grooves matching with common deadbolts assemblies and tabs which interlock with Lockitrons’ chassis.Installing is done by loosening the deadbolt screws from the interior door, sliding the C-plate behind the deadbolt decorative mounting plate and fitting the mounting plate into a accurate groove on the C-plate to the centre of the Lockitron.

 Thereafter, tightening the deadbolt screw ensuring that the lever turns with the least amount of resistance since deadbolts tend to be fiddly and doors are drilled with some inaccuracy. If all this is not aligned accurately there could be chances that the lever may turn out to be hard to turn. Once done the Lockitron need to be held at an angle to the door, to slip it over the tables on the C-plate, rotated till it is vertically straight up and down with the door edge and then mounted.
Lockitron Relies More on Wi-Fi than Bluetooth

Thereafter the app can be downloaded which guides the user through the process of setting up Locitrons’ software and on entering Wi-Fi network range, the app ask to connect the Lockitron with Apigy’s cloud service by taking a picture of a barcode attached to the device chassis. In Lockitron, the focus is on phone’s display at the upper right corner of Lockiron while the app flashes pattern of pulses which are captured by on board photo sensor.

The concept of Lockitron relies more on Wi-Fi rather than Bluetooth connection since Wi-Fi has a higher energy cost on the AA batteries which are included and the firmware puts Lockitron to sleep in order to conserve power. Scheduling sleep/wake is arbitrary and manual activation is limited to knocking or locking the door. At the time of leaving the home, the door is unlocked from inside and as we exit we tend to pull the door close but it still remain unlocked. We can then open the app and swipe to lock the door.

 Lockitron is a good idea and the hardware has good capabilities but its execution is not quite up to the mark. Apigy on their part are constantly making progress in updating for better Wi-Fi connection, to modify wake/sleep pattern, higher app monitoring accuracy with better mechanical operation. Moreover, the company also has plans to activate `Sense’, which is a proximity aware method of keyless entry based on Bluetooth 4.0 that was on the hyped features list.

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