A new smart lock currently under development in Australia promises to connect doorways to the Internet for longer periods of time than its current rivals.
The Genie Smart Lock, which its Queensland-based developers say is still in the "engineering" phase, could mark a major advance upon existing smart locks in terms of power efficiency and battery life.
Other smart locks currently on the market, such as the Lockitron, connect doorways to the Internet in order radically enhance access and control functions. The devices enable operators to dispense with the need for physical keys, as well as lock and unlock doors remotely and monitor access levels from afar.
While providing a slew of advantages, smart locks continue to suffer from a major shortcoming - their limited battery life, which is in turn related to power management issues.
A smart lock must find an appropriate balance between checking for wi-fi signals and longevity of operation. When current devices checks for wi-fi signals at intervals of between five to 15 seconds, battery life can be as brief as just several weeks. If the checking frequency is reduced in order to extend the independent operation of the lock, however, its effectiveness is severely compromised.
The developers of the Genie Smart Lock claim to have remedied this issue via the use of a secondary device for power management. A Wi-Fi hub plugged into a standard power socket communicates with the smart lock by converting the Wi-Fi signals into Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).
The use of a secondary device plugged into the mains system minimises usage of the smart lock's own battery, as the Wi-Fi radio has access to the grid. The batteries of the smart lock are only sued to power the BLE transfer.
The developers of the Genie Smart Lock claim that the device will be able to achieve an realistic battery life of as long as 12 months, with the option of even further extending its independent operation by adjusting the frequency with which it scans for signals.
Longevity of operation is not the only innovation of the device. The Genie Smart Lock isn't just a lock, but an entire replacement handle which fits into a standard 54mm door hole. The device is easy enough to install that users can perform the task on their own, as well as remove it completely should its usage be only temporary.
The developers of the Genie Smart Lock hope to raise $100,000 via a crowd funding campaign for the construction of a functioning prototype, with an estimated shipping date for the system of late 2014. The fledgling company behind the Genie has already won a $10,000 grant from St George Bank as part of a startup competition.