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Remote Access Locks

The Best Key Is No Key

New technology is often born through defiance of a conventional understanding. Those who challenge themselves as well as the limits of their potential are the pioneers that make this happen. In the case of remote access locks, someone refused to be complacent with the hindrance of always needing physical keys to unlock doors. Thus the remote access lock was born, opening a fresh world of convenience to property owners, renters, travelers, and millions more.

To clarify, there are two major types of locks that are both often referred to as “remote access locks.” They are both remote access, but there is a huge difference. The first kind of remote access lock, also called a “fob,” is comprised of a remote and a receiving panel. The remote will send the signal to unlock a door from an inch to a few yards away. This is more convenient than having an iron key as they are subject to degradation and can actually become useless at correctly fitting into locks. Then there is the more cutting edge wave of remote access locks that will be referred to as “long distance locks” for convenience.

Essentially, long distance locks are self-explanatory. Although several manufacturers distribute these locks, the conceptual layout is the same. Regressing to the conventional “lock and key” scenario, these new locks are very much the same as traditional locks except for one difference: There is still a physical lock that is attached to a door or gate, prohibiting the entrance of anyone who does not have a key, but now the physical key itself is obsolete. The owner of the lock can easily trigger the lock to open from anywhere in the world. This has opened up a myriad of applications for those who were unable to benefit from conventional locks because of a travel arrangement or a number of similar situations.

For anyone who has managed a rental property or knows someone who has, the amount of effort and hassle that goes into keeping track of and replacing tenants’ keys could not be more poignant. Whether from the management side or from the tenant side, everyone has experienced the awkward “I lost my key” phone call to the apartment manager and the time lost in the events that follow. Almost all of these long distance locks, with rental owners in mind, have eliminated that situation by allowing temporary codes for anyone that the owner of the lock permits. This enables the owner of the property to have permanent access to the lock, while the tenants will have the same remote access for as long as they live at the property.

Long distance locks also accommodate vacationers, foreign exchange students, or anyone else that is dislocated from their home for any period of time but still desires controlled access. For these demographics, especially those that have pets, there is often a need for a close friend or family member to occasionally perform some maintenance or dogsitting at the permanent residence. Long distance locks take all the worry out of the situation because there is no key to be lost, and it doesn’t even matter if the friend or family member forgets to lock the door.

Like all other innovations that have flourished in America, long distance locks are not exempt from reflecting the diversity of American industry. Their success has allowed for many manufacturers to harness the technology in whatever way they like. Most of these variations are hedged upon the combination of a deadbolt, remote, access code, key, and keypad. For example, many models of long distance locks still feature traditional deadbolts and keys for those who prefer to have tangible means of entry to the property. Some have the access codes, deadbolt and key, and a keypad for even more convenience.

As it concerns the physical composition of these new locks, many of them are hardly discernable from their older counterparts, save for a small sensor for picking up remote commands. Someone who orders a remote access lock can expect something that looks just like a “keypad” lock, with a metal handle and rectangular panel that attaches the door. (Again, the presence of a keyhole or keypad varies depending on the exact model ordered.)

Many people want to know how locks work in particular because it is directly relevant to the security of their property. Going back to remote access locks, or fobs, the mechanics and resulting functionality are relatively simple. Essentially, the remote houses a tiny radio transmitter that is excited and transmits when the button is pressed or held down. The signal is transmitted at a specific frequency that the controller chip inside the receptor recognizes as the correct code. Once the message is sent, the controller chip unlocks the door.

Signal variation is key in addressing the major security issue with these radio-transmitting devices, so that every radio frequency or “key” is unique to its respective receptor. But with so many garage door openers, for example, how is it feasible that so many frequencies could exist to avoid unwanted crossover? The answer lies in the devices within the receptor panel, often referred to as switch panels. Like a combination lock, these switch panels increase signal variation by only acknowledging commands when all of the switches are set at a specific combination. This exponentially increases signal variation and security.