For some office workers the task of locking and unlocking their computer is a regular part of the job when heading AFK (away from keyboard), with the frequency often dictated by the extent of their caffeine addiction. Looking to automate this process is the team behind the GateKeeper Chain, a key fob with a built-in proximity sensor that automatically locks your PC when you walk away and then unlocks it when you return to your desk.

Measuring 20 x 36 x 5 mm (0.78 x 1.41 x 0.19 in) and weighing 4 g (0.14 oz), Gatekeeper Chain is compatible with PCs running Windows 7 or later, with Mac OS support on the way. Users attach the fob to their keychain and plug a USB lock into their computer which the two then communicating using Bluetooth 4.0.

The device uses a signal strength algorithm to track the key's location and AES encryption for security, which the company claims will ensure only each unique key can unlock its assigned computer.

Although the Bluetooth 4.0 connection provides a range of 100 ft (30 m), the distance at which the fob will work is adjustable within that distance, meaning it can be set to unlock the computer as soon as you enter the room or only when you sit down at your desk.

Additionally, GateKeeper could double as a tool to prevent lost keys, with the company developing a companion app designed to send an alert to your phone when they are left behind. The device is powered by a coin cell battery that is promised to last six months of use.

Initially, GateKeeper will be available in silver and black with additional colors to follow. The company has developed functioning prototypes and will launch on Kickstarter next week. Early pledges of US$25 are available, with shipping estimated for July 2014 if everything goes to plan.

Lead developer Stefan Giroux outlines the Gatekeeper Chain in the video below.

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