There are already door locks and bicycle U-locks that are activated by Bluetooth, but Utah-based FŪZ Designs claims that its Noke is the world's first Bluetooth padlock. Like its house- and bike-specific counterparts, the Noke forgoes a physical key or combination dial, and instead unlocks when it detects the Bluetooth signal from an approved user's smartphone.
To unlock the Noke (pronounced "no key"), you just press down on its shackle once. This wakes it up, and gets it searching for Bluetooth 4.0 signals within a 10-foot (3-meter) range. If it detects its own specific unlocking signal emanating from the user's phone – which can be in their pocket or bag at the time – it proceeds to pop open. It automatically locks back up once the signal goes out of range again.
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According to the guys at FŪZ, there are several advantages to going Bluetooth.
For one thing, you don't need to worry about losing a key or forgetting a combination. Should you forget your phone or if its battery dies, you can still unlock the Noke by tapping its shackle in a Morse code-like pattern that's unique to that lock.
Also, using the accompanying iOS/Android app, you can remotely grant full-time, one-time or scheduled unlocking privileges to other peoples' phones. This could come in handy when various co-workers or family members regularly need to use a locked item, or when people such as house-sitters require access to things like garden sheds.
Users will be notified via the app when the Noke's battery starts to get low, which should reportedly occur less than once a year. If the battery completely dies, it's possible to replace it with the lock still in place. The lock itself is made from boron and hardened steel, and is water-resistant.
FŪZ is currently raising production funds for the Noke, on Kickstarter. A pledge of US$59 will get you one, when and if they're ready to go. The planned retail price is $89. More information is available in the pitch video below.
... and while the Noke may end up being the world's first commercially-available Bluetooth padlock, it won't necessarily be the first one ever made. The Teo lock is also currently in prototype form and was the subject of an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign of its own, earlier this year.