The smart padlock is here, and it is designed in Canada

Daniel Bader

January 13, 2014 9:08 am

“Shoot,” he said, pounding his fist on the shed’s creaky door. “No snowshoeing for us today.” We’d driven three hours from Toronto to Haliburton, excited to traverse the freshly-fallen snow on equipment locked behind a rusty padlock, the key in my friend’s drawer 380 kilometres away.

TEO is the answer to such a problem. Envisioned by tinkerer, Gord Duncan, CEO of Total North, a BWI and IT company located in Whitehorse, TEO is no ordinary padlock. Designed by top-tier Vancouver firm, Form3 Design, the gadget promises to master real-world logistics, not just for the individual but an entire company.

“We get the enterprise,” Duncan tells me over the phone from snowy Whitehorse. “And this has some pretty big legs.” The proverbial key to TEO’s success is that it is Bluetooth-enabled, with rights and access management built in from the beginning. When it ships later this year, Android and iOS users will be able to open one or many TEO’s using tokens that lapse, or don’t, depending on the permissions contained within. This promises to be a godsend for facilities coordinators tired of shuffling rings with hundreds of near-identical keys.

“Masterlock is an $8 billion per year business,” says Gordan. “Kryptonite (the popular bike lock makers) do $250 million per year. There are serious vertical market opportunities here.” But Gordan is quick to point out that TEO’s magic isn’t in the lock itself — though it is designed to be saw-proof and unaffected by the elements — but the key.

There will be three ways to access a TEO: through the lock itself; from a smartphone; and via a token stored in the cloud. All methods require Bluetooth Low Energy to actually turn the switch, but the cloud-based method is what makes the smart padlock such a desirable product for businesses. Being able to grant access to a secure location or container for a specific amount of time is key to ensuring verticals are interested in the product. Administrators, according to Duncan, can oversee an unlimited number of locks, too.

The company is just over a quarter to its $165,000 goal, which Duncan says is enough to get the ball rolling on production, though he believes the product has legs  beyond its initial crowdfunding campaign. “The people we’ve partnered with — there’s pretty good commercial and enterprise interest because there’s credibility [among the team]. Luggage companies, rental locker companies, they want to chat.”

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The average shed owner, too, will be interested in TEO, he hopes. Small things that keep the padlock decidedly simple, tangible and physical, were included for the individual user. “People need feedback from their lock,” Duncan says. “There’s a little LED that tells you its status. It clocks when it closes. And when holding it in your hand, you have to feel comfortable that it is a lock. It can’t raise any doubt about that.”

TEO has 53 days left to raise just over $100,000. Not only has the product received fantastic press in its short time on Kickstarter, but Duncan and his team are audibly excited about the prospects for this little padlock. The team’s slogan is “Unlock the magic,” and there is no doubt that this Yukon adventure will have a happy ending.

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  • MXH070

    What happens when the battery dies?..

    • Darryl Friesen

      From their Kickstarter page: “A Fob is in development to ‘jump start’ TEO, as well as contact a spare battery to exchange for the old one. Stay tuned for our upcoming update on the TEO Fob!”

      My car is keyless. In order to start it, the key fob needs to have power and be inside the vehicle. If the battery in the fob dies, there is a special slot that it can be placed into to power it from the car battery, allowing the vehicle to be started. I’m guessing they are working on a similar strategy.

      Or you could probably spend several hours/days with a hack saw…

    • rjr162

      and you get the old one off how? (Considering it does say all 3 methods require bluetooth…)

  • shamedroid

    i like your hair jenny

  • Mayoo

    Knock Knock Knock, Jenny
    Knock Knock Knock, Jenny
    Knock Knock Knock, Jenny
    Knock Knock Knock, Jenny
    Knock Knock Knock, Jenny

    • ehEye

      not a place one would expect misogyny to be rampant. [oh yes this IS online - lets make that "misoJenny" !]

  • Jesse Walker

    What?! No Blackberry support! Deal-breaker…

    • ehEye

      what is “blackBerry”?

    • kilowiko

      You want to lock up pieces of crappy fruit?

    • Jesse Walker

      No, a Blackberry BB10. Its like an 8-track, but with email and phone service.

    • kilowiko

      Right. Except that the email part only works 50% of the time now. Lol

    • Timothy Dornan

      The new Blackberry OS is supposed to handle Android apps. But for people without smartphones or with older operating systems, it shouldn’t be long before this technology expands.

  • Jacque Cousteau

    I feel as though this should still have the option of a key…I don’t know if the world is ready for an electronic lock without a key.

    • MXH070

      Yes. A back up key option should be included, even the bluetooth and number code dead bolt locks for doors have key use back up when battery fails.

  • blueadept1

    I like your name mike

    • Mayoo

      I like your name blueadept1

    • Matthew Livingstone

      I like mayo :-) its great with turkey

  • ehEye

    while i very much like the movement toward getting rid of all keys, like the ‘design’, and wish to be supportive, the example is a rather poor one since locks (when they work) keep only honest people out (especially in remote areas). The weakest link to access proceeds from lock, to hasp, to door jam, to door (or window). Another problem here: what if the lock mechanism itself freezes, not uncommon @ 35 below zero! [can the blueTooth activated solenoid break the ice?]
    What we really need to do as a society is to rid ourselves of the “concept of ownership”.

    • koconor100

      rid ourselves of the “concept of ownership”

      It’s called communism. Russia tried it. Failed miserably. They’re now capitalists.

      :)

    • Matthew Livingstone

      Cuba seems alright :-) lol

    • David Pollock

      Another point – batteries and electronics hate the environment. This lock is likely to have environmental issues with extreme cold or heat. Imagine a lithium battery having summer sun beating down on it’s metal hull for 12 hours of a day, or the example you gave of -20 to -35 temps. This is Canada, we have extreme temperatures here.

  • ehEye

    the beauty of autocorrect, spellcheck etc.[they are totally able to insert the wrong word, and spell it perfectly!]

  • Sweet

    “We get the enterprise,”

    If that were true, you’d be developing a BB app for it, since BB still has a significant presence in the enterprise space.

  • koconor100

    I forgot my key so this lock is better isn’t a good argument.
    Especially considering the number of times I forget to charge my phone or simply forget the phone at home.