Sunday, 3 February 2013

Digital Keys - the evolution of the doorbell?

Not only are digital keys an evolution of the 'lock and key', they are also an evolution of the 'doorbell'. This may sound strange to some.

To apartment dwellers, this won't sound so strange - that's because most big apartment buildings in cities these days have a 'lock and key' that is also a 'doorbell'. It's commonly known as a 'buzzer'.

A Buzzer (the part that goes in the apartment)

"I'll buzz you in", is the common expression from a host through the intercom system, after a guest presses the buzzer on an apartment building's street-front door.

The apartment dweller grants access to that guest by pressing a button on that phone or receiver inside the apartment that has just 'rung'. This in turn releases an electric strike on the frame of the street-front door, enabling the guest to push open the door and come into the building. The doorbell, the electric strike, and the receiver in the apartment building are usually connected by wires. So here you have a 'lock and key' also being a 'doorbell'.

Apartment dwellers love it, because you don't have to come all the way down a flight of stairs or jump in a lift to go down to the street level to let a guest in. Apartment dwellers probably couldn't imagine life now without a buzzer.

A guest pushes the buzzer at the Apartment street-level door
Now 'digital keys' means suburban dwellers can have all the convenience of the apartment 'buzzer' for less than a couple hundred dollars, there is no wiring, and it only takes minutes to install.

So I hear you say, "we don't need a buzzer or digital keys in our suburban house, the metal keys work perfectly fine!".

Back around the turn of the century (1900's), people probably said the same thing about doorbells, "we don't need a doorbell, knocking works perfectly fine!"
Knocking is fine

Metal keys are fine

Although the electric doorbell was officially invented in 1831, it wasn't until the nineteen twenties and thirties that they became prevalent in people's homes. Back then the doorbell was considered a 'luxury item' and everyone wanted one. It was common that people would buy doorbells as Christmas and Birthday gifts. If you were a doorbell gift receiver back in the nineteen twenties you would be as excited as if you were now receiving an iPad or a big screen TV.

So why did the electric doorbell suddenly become popular in the twenties and wind up in just about everyone's houses before the end of the century? 

Doorbells began running out the door in the nineteen twenties

Maybe people finally realized doorbells make your life better? 
According to a, 'metal door knockers and strings attached to bells (like a church bell) were popular around the turn of the century. It took a fair amount of effort to ring those bells. Or without the devices it took a lot of continual knocking on the door to announce one's arrival.

Maybe it was the big companies promoting the doorbell differently?
Doorbells with musical chimes were so popular at one time, that advertisements claimed  that they 'were a relief to housewives whose nerves were jangled courtesy the jarring sound of the ringing 'church type bells'.

Maybe it was pricing? 
Like any new electrical device, the pricing comes down in time.

Maybe it was just suddenly 'cool'? 
To answer this one - imagine you were throwing a 5 year old's BBQ birthday party. If you were out the back cooking a BBQ, then you probably wouldn't have heard someone knocking on your door - solution - buy and install an electric doorbell with loud musical chimes. When it rings, you put down the BBQ tongs, and go and open the door, and welcome your guest into your house.

With digital keys you can go one step further.
Digital keys means that you don't even have to put your tongs down and leave the BBQ. Here's how it would go - you're cooking the BBQ and you receive a text message. You pull you're phone out of your pocket and  its 'Auntie Margaret' - the text reads, "I'm parking now out the front".

By pressing one button on your digital keys app, you can generate a 'one-time digital key', and attach it to a text message (just like attaching a photo), and sends it to Auntie Margaret.

Auntie Margaret receives the digital key as she's getting out of the car, and when she arrives at your front door, she holds her phone up to electric strike reader box, and, using NFC on her phone the electric strike releases and she goes inside. Auntie Margaret then joins the party out the back.

And another step even further
What about this scenario - Auntie Margaret arrives juggling a cask of wine under one arm, and a salad bowl in the other. Using Bluetooth on her phone, within a few metres of the door, the electric strike releases, Auntie Margaret pushes open the door with her shoulder, she goes inside puts the wine and salad down and joins the BBQ out the back. And you as the host didn't even need to put your BBQ tongs down.

And so in conclusion, we beg to ask the question, "if a digital key can also be a new hi tech type of doorbell, then will digital keys take a similar destiny to the doorbell, and wind up in almost every home before too long?

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