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The History of Digital Door Locks, from Keys to Codes

The History of Digital Door Locks, from Keys to Codes
calendarOctober 28, 2023

Digital Lock - The history of digital door locks is a compelling journey through the evolution of security and access control. 

Over the past two centuries, these innovative devices have changed how we protect our homes and businesses.

In this exploration, we’ll trace their evolution from early keyless entry systems to today’s advanced solutions, highlighting their impact and potential for the future.


The Birth of Digital Door Locks

It’s important to travel back in time to explore the early roots of access control and security innovation to understand the significance of digital door locks.

Before the digital age, security solutions were very different, with mechanical systems such as the time lock invented by James Sargent in 1873 playing a critical role in protecting valuables.


The Development of the First Digital Door Lock Systems

James Sargent, an American inventor, is credited with the invention of the world’s first lock in 1873.

Used primarily in bank vaults and safes, this invention was a significant advancement in the field of security. 

The time lock was designed to prevent unauthorized access to the vault or safe during certain hours of the day or night.

The idea behind the time lock was relatively simple but effective. Sargent integrated a mechanical clock mechanism into the locking system of a safe or vault.

This clock was set to a predetermined time, and the safe or vault couldn’t be opened until that time was reached. The time lock ensured that the safe couldn’t be opened until a certain time had elapsed, even if the correct combination or key was known.

In 1880, Sargent invented another major advancement in security, the time-delay combination lock.

The time-delay lock integrated two key components: a traditional combination lock and a time-delay mechanism.

Like a standard combination lock, it had a dial with numbers and required the correct combination to be entered to unlock it. 

Interestingly, it also included a mechanical timer. This introduced a delay between the successful entry of the combination and the actual opening of the safe or vault.

When the correct combination was entered, the timer would begin counting down. The safe or vault door would remain locked until the timer completed its countdown. At that point, the lock would release, allowing the door to be opened.

However, as technology continued to advance, so did the demands for more flexible and user-friendly access control solutions.

The Shift from Mechanical Locks to Digital Solutions

In 1975, Vale Tor Sørnes, a Norwegian engineer, introduced the VingCard system, which marked a significant departure from traditional lock-and-key systems.

The VingCard was a pioneering electronic lock that used a keycard with a magnetic stripe, allowing it to be easily reprogrammed for different guests. 

This innovation was especially transformative for the hospitality industry, as it offered a more convenient and secure alternative to traditional keys.

The keycard itself had a magnetic stripe containing encoded information. 

Each guest was issued a unique keycard, and the stripe could be easily programmed and reprogrammed with the necessary access information.

On the other hand, the lock on the door was equipped with a card reader that interacted with the keycard’s magnetic stripe. When a guest inserted their keycard into the lock, the reader decoded the information on the stripe. 

If the information matched, the lock would disengage, granting access.

The key advantage of the VingCard system was its recodability. When a guest checked out, the hotel staff could simply reprogram the keycard for the next guest. 

This eliminated the need to replace physical keys or locks, making it an efficient and cost-effective solution for the hospitality industry.

Overall, the VingCard system laid the foundation for modern electronic access control systems and was a significant precursor to digital door locks. 

It combined the security benefits of electronic access with the convenience of reprogramming, offering a flexible and efficient way to secure buildings.


The Modern Era of Digital Door Locks

But that’s not the end of the digital door lock history. Fast forward to today, and modern digital door locks are very different from the era of James Sargent and Vale Tor Sørnes, largely due to the integration of the Internet of Things (IoT). 

The introduction of IoT technology has changed digital locks in several important ways:


1. Remote Access and Control

IoT-enabled digital locks can be remotely controlled and monitored via smartphones or other internet-connected devices.

This means that homeowners or property managers can lock or unlock doors from anywhere, providing greater convenience and control.


2. Integration with Smart Home Ecosystems

Modern digital locks are often part of a broader smart home ecosystem. They can seamlessly integrate with other smart devices, such as security cameras, thermostats, and lighting systems. 

This interconnectedness allows for more sophisticated automation and enhanced security.


3. User Authentication

IoT locks often incorporate advanced user authentication methods. 

In addition to traditional PIN codes or keycards, they may use biometric recognition (fingerprint, facial recognition), voice recognition, or even smartphone-based access (Bluetooth or NFC).


4. Real-time Alerts and Notifications

In addition, IoT digital locks can send real-time alerts and notifications to homeowners or property managers. Specifically, they can notify users of door activity, such as when a door is unlocked or opened. This provides an extra layer of security and awareness.


5. Energy Efficiency

Finally, IoT locks can contribute to energy efficiency by allowing users to control access and temperature settings remotely.

[6] For example, the lock can communicate with the thermostat to adjust the temperature when a door is locked or unlocked.


Related Content : 12 Telltale Signs You Need to Change Your Locks at Home


The Growing Popularity of Digital Door Locks

The adoption of digital door locks in homes has grown significantly in recent years. These modern security solutions offer a blend of convenience and enhanced protection that appeals to homeowners looking to upgrade their access control systems.

One of the key drivers of this adoption is the integration of digital door locks into smart home ecosystems. 

They connect seamlessly with other IoT devices, allowing homeowners to remotely manage and monitor their security using smartphones and voice assistants.

In commercial environments, businesses often require strict access control to protect sensitive data and assets and ensure employees' safety. 

Digital door locks provide a convenient way to manage employee and visitor access with keyless entry, PIN codes, or smart card authentication features.

In industrial environments where extensive facilities or warehouses require secure entry points, digital door locks serve as an efficient access control solution. 

They help monitor and restrict access to restricted areas. This improves overall security and prevents unauthorized entry.

All in all, the adoption of digital door locks in these settings underscores the increasing demand for efficient, technology-driven access control solutions to enhance security and operational efficiency.


The Technology Inside Digital Door Locks

So, how do digital door locks work?

First, let’s understand the main components of digital door locks.

Digital Door Locks Main Components

While the terminology and design can vary, here are the main components often found in smart locks:

Mechanical Lock

The mechanical lock is the physical hardware that secures the door. It includes components like the latch, bolt, and deadbolt. In digital locks, this component can still be part of the locking mechanism, even though the primary mode of operation is electronic.

Digital Interface

The digital interface is the electronic component that allows users to interact with the lock. This interface can include a keypad for entering PIN codes, a touchscreen for input, or a card reader for keycards. It’s where users input their credentials to unlock the door.

Digital Key

The digital key is a method of authentication. It can be a PIN code, a keycard, a smartphone app, or a biometric feature like a fingerprint or facial recognition.


How Digital Door Locks Work


Here’s a basic explanation of how digital door locks work in sequence:

1. User Authentication

To gain access, you need to prove you have permission. You can do this by entering a PIN code, using a keycard, or even using your fingerprint or a smartphone app, depending on the type of digital lock.

2. Validation

The digital lock checks if the authentication information you provided is correct. For instance, if you enter the right PIN code or present a valid keycard, the lock validates it.

3. Lock Control

If your information is valid, the lock releases its mechanism to unlock the door. This can involve a motor or solenoid that physically moves the bolt or latch to open the door.

4. Locking

When you’re done, you can close the door, and the lock can either automatically lock when it senses the door is closed, or you can lock it manually.


Hoz’s Top 3 Digital Door Locks to Secure Your Home 


At Hoz, we understand that the safety of your home is paramount. In a world where technology is seamlessly integrated into our daily lives, it’s no surprise that our approach to securing our homes has evolved.

Smart locks have become an integral part of modern home security. They offer a blend of convenience, accessibility, and robust protection.

After learning the history of digital door lock, in this section, we are proud to introduce you to the top three residential digital locks carefully selected by our experts at Hoz. 

These innovative solutions have set new standards in home security.

Whether you’re looking to enhance the security of your home or simply streamline your daily routines, this review will help you make an informed decision to safeguard your most cherished space.

Best for Your Budget: KAISER Lever Mini

The KAISER Lever Mini earns its reputation as the best digital lock for budget-conscious homeowners due to its attractive price point at just $570. 

It offers a multitude of convenient and secure access modes, including PIN code, RFID card, mechanical key, remote control, and Wi-Fi access.

The added convenience of auto-unlock when temperatures rise above 65 degrees Celcius ensures accessibility even when your hands are full. Moreover, its robust security features, like the anti-prying alarm, provide peace of mind.

With affordability, versatility, and safety in one package, the KAISER Lever Mini strikes the ideal balance for homeowners looking to maximize value without compromising on quality and security.


Best for Your Gate: WEZPRO Platinum and Gate Digital Lock Bundle

The WEZPRO Gate Digital Lock excels as the ultimate choice for gate security due to its impressive security. Its fire safety compliance offers unparalleled peace of mind, while weather resistance ensures durability under harsh conditions.

In addition, the swift recognition of less than 0.5 seconds guarantees efficient access control. 

Homeowners appreciate the added security of an emergency override key and an intrusion alarm, further enhancing safety.

What sets it apart is the remarkable value – when purchased in a bundle with the WEZPRO Platinum Digital Lock for just $1,259, it offers comprehensive security for both your gate and home.


Best for Limited Spaces: Solity GA65B & GD65B

The Solity GA65B stands as the premier choice for minimalist homes. Its slim, sleek design, measuring 380 mm x 90 mm x 70 mm seamlessly complements contemporary home decor. 

The larger, more visible screen font enhances usability, while the inclusion of an intrusion and breakage alarm bolsters security.

What truly distinguishes it is the magnetic recognition mechanism, which eliminates the need for a traditional latch. 

Furthermore, when purchased as a bundle with the Solity GD65B, for a total of $1,129, it offers complete home security.

These affordable yet robust digital locks are available at Hoz. With cutting-edge features and competitive pricing, these smart locks represent a new era in home security. So upgrade your home security today and experience the future of convenience and security right here at Hoz.


Final Words


From the mechanical innovations of James Sargent to Vale Tor Sørnes’ VingCard to the smart, connected world of today’s smart locks, one thing remains clear: technology and security are evolving hand in hand.

Looking back and looking forward, it’s clear that digital innovation will continue to redefine how we secure our spaces. 

The legacy of these inventions reminds us that progress is unstoppable. We look forward to the next chapter in the fascinating history of digital door locks.





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