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Introducing the Digital Keys NB-IoT Smart Padlock

With the new Digital Keys Smart Padlock, we have made it easy for you to get connected access anywhere without the need for any onsite power or equipment.

With 4 methods of unlocking, and a solution that connects in over 22 countries out of the box to a variety of mobile carriers NB-IoT networks, its easy for you to control access to your assets. With extended battery life of around 5 years, you won't need to worry about re-charging locks, or things like Wi-Fi bridges or hubs, or Wi-Fi mesh networks, or even apps.

This is the first time ever, a fully connected smart padlock has been made available (without Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth, Zigbee etc). The applications are only limited by your imagination. Use the smart padlock to control access to your gates, storage boxes, garage doors, shipping containers, sheds, cabinets, lockers and so on.

You can create an unlimited number of unique time-sensitive digital keys and email them to friends, family, co-workers etc. You will also always know instantly if someone unlocks your padlock with live notifications/emails. With built in tampering sensors and notifications, you'll also know immediately is anyone attempts to break in.

The Current Standard

Most smart padlocks on the market use Bluetooth for unlocking. Once the lock has been placed on your door (e.g gate, garage door, box lid etc), the owners have to download the manufacturers App, enable their Bluetooth connectivity, and scan the lock with their phones in order to pair the devices together. Once the lock has been connected to a primary device, it cannot be paired to another device without authorization from the primary device. Whilst many Bluetooth locks 'advertise' time-sensitive use (that is having digital keys that only work for limited time periods) they are not 'internet connected locks'.

Some Bluetooth locks allow data to be exchanged from the lock back to the app. For example when you unlock, a message can be sent from the lock back to the app via Bluetooth to say 'the lock was just opened by user x at this time'. Or the app could simply say without exchanging data with the lock, "you sent the unlock request at this time" (whether or not you actually successfully unlocked). This information can then be shared over the internet with the primary account owner as an app notification, but it relies on the authorised user having a reliable internet connection at the time of the unlock for a 'live event/live track' (via the phone's 4G/5G or through Wi-Fi). The user will also need to have the app opened and allow data running in the background for this 'live tracking' feature.

The Bluetooth locks are always on (waiting for unlock commands, so they chew up battery fast). They usually require separate app accounts for each lock too (each lock must configure to a primary device which is usually limited to one lock account, one lock). So if you wanted 100 locks, you would need 100 accounts, and if you wanted to grant access to all 100 locks at once, you would have to log in to 100 different app accounts one at a time, and share the digital keys separately each time. Many Bluetooth locks only have the one method of unlocking too - that is in the manufacturers app, and cannot be connected to cloud-based software (as technically the lock is not connected to the internet - so you can't interact with it).

The Digital Keys Solution

The Digital Keys Smart Padlock has a SIM card and a tiny modem inside it (see image opposite - SIM card holder at bottom and Telit modem at top left) enabling it to connect to the internet via local mobile network towers - similar to mobile phones. The communication technology used in our smart locks is called NB-IoT, part of the 5G standards. This means so many more features can be offered over a typical Bluetooth lock.

1. More power efficient

Unlike Bluetooth locks, the Digital Keys padlock remains in a deep sleep mode most of the time, and is only woken up for a couple of seconds when it receives an unlock command/exchanges data. This means battery life can go from a few months with Bluetooth to a few years. The Digital Keys smart padlock has a battery life of around 5 years based on 5 activations a day.

2. More features through an internet connection

Unlike Bluetooth locks which are not connected to the internet, the Digital Keys Padlock connects to local mobile networks via NB-IoT, meaning users and owners can interact with it at anytime in a variety of different ways. This interaction can be by cloud-based access management software, with API's to third party software, or with sensors or other IoT devices and smartphone apps.

We have added a tampering sensor to the our padlock, so if any unusual movement occurs at a time when no digital keys are programmed to be used (e.g if someone has a digital key for Wednesday, and someone touches the lock on a Monday) we can send a 'tampering notification alert' immediately to the account owner via email. The account owner can then notify the authorities that someone unauthorised is on site, or check CCTV or even interface automatically to security systems. This way the lock can also become like an alarm system or work together with an alarm system. Companies can use our Smart Access API to integrate to their existing security/alarm systems.

We can also cancel the digital keys at anytime - great if you want to remove access to someone's already granted digital key.

The third main feature our connected smart padlock offers distinct to Bluetooth/Wi-Fi locks, is being able to control an unlimited amount of locks for an unlimited amount of users for any time periods, within the one cloud-based software account. You can create your own rules and own access rights for your users and user groups. Do you want to create a digital key for 10 people on a Monday and 50 people on Fridays between 9am-11am - its easy to do these types of things in seconds your one cloud-based access management software account.

The aforementioned 'live event' tracking feature available in some Bluetooth locks, only works with cooperation from the end-user. It requires the user to unlock with the app, and to have Bluetooth enabled and an internet connection. If the user turns off data exchange, and doesn't have an internet connection at the time of unlocking, you can't use the tracking feature. With the Digital Keys smartlocks we extract the unlock information directly from the lock not the user - this way you are not reliant on the user for this important data. The data can also be stored in a database and used in data analytics in our cloud based access management software.

3. More opening methods - 4 opening methods.

Bluetooth locks are limited to one opening method - the manufacturer's app. The Digital Keys smart padlock has 4 opening methods - in addition to using our Digital Keys app, you can also unlock with PIN's, remote unlock within the access management software (without having to create a digital key or even add a user), and with keycards/tokens/fobs (NFC Mifare). So for example if a one off worker such as a broadband technician requires access to your property/asset for only one time, he/she can call you when he arrives on your site, and you can just hit one button in the access management software from anywhere in the world to let him/her in. No need for the technician to download the manufacturers app, and for you to authorise him (add him to the system) and then generate a digital key for him and advise him of this.

4. Better Security

One of the biggest differences between Bluetooth padlocks and the Digital Keys NB-IoT smart padlock is security. Most Bluetooth locks have been hacked - e.g see this article here - 75% of Bluetooth locks can be hacked

NB-IoT smart access is secure by design. It is specifically built for IoT devices, unlike Bluetooth and Wi-Fi which was originally built for streaming media content. NB-IoT operates on mobile carriers networks so that it keeps users and their data protected thanks to inbuilt mobile network security features and encryptions enforcement. As regulated entities with spectrum licensees, mobile operators have to comply with a range of requirements established by the regulatory authorities in the markets in which they operate. In most countries, mobile operators now have long track records of keeping their networks secure, building trust among regulators, governments, policymakers and customers. NB-IoT is the only globally licenced IoT communications technology by GSMA/3GPP - the organisations that manage the global mobile networks.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop us an email


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