The intelligent door handle
October 7, 2005 The diversity of communication and security systems which greet a visitor attempting to enter a doorway these days can be daunting to the visitor and expensive and complex to upgrade and implement for the home owner or building manager. Now Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute have combined and adapted all the cameras, buzzers, keypads, motion detectors, RFID readers and intercoms into a wireless integrated door station and combined it with the door handle which can integrate existing and planned infrastructure at low cost and high convenience.
"Our main motivation was the fact that you don't necessarily have to plan the communication system when the building is first erected," says Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML project manager Ralf Erdmann. "The cost of conversion is very reasonable even in older buildings. It's not necessary to take out the wall beside the door, or to lay new cables."
Instead, the system uses a wireless power supply – for instance via the door opener when the door is closed. The data transmission works in a similar way. Nothing need be replaced except the door handle and the lock casing. Sheathed inside them – protected against violence – are the doorbell, a camera, an intercom, and if required a motion detector or an RFID transponder system for access control.
As a result, authorized persons no longer need a key. The door handle identifies the code of the inexpensive chip with the aid of its transponder antenna. "If someone loses their chip, that's no problem," explains Erdmann. "They just get a new one, and have the code of the old one canceled." Linking the transponder to an automatic door opener offers added advantages for elderly or handicapped people, saving them the trouble of wielding keys or holding the door open in order to get inside the building.
A prototype of the integrated door station, which is registered as an international utility model, is being tested at the IML. "We are already working on an enhanced version for large residential complexes," says Erdmann. "We are also negotiating with several manufacturers of doors and door handles, and we hope that the first models will be on the market very soon." The price of the compact system has not yet been determined. It will depend mainly on the design of the door handle, as the components installed inside it are mass-produced items that do not cost much.