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Shopping: A Singapore-designed smart lock that doesn’t rely on Wifi

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If you like the idea of a smart home, but are a little skeptical — with online security issues, insecure routers, smart TVs with tracking firmware, IP cams being vulnerable to hacking, and so on — you might be hesitant about entrusting your front door's security to a smart lock.

The Singapore-designed Igloohome Deadbolt 02 might just be for you then. The Deadbolt 02 is a smart lock that’s off the grid; it doesn’t need Wifi to work. Instead, the Deadbolt 02 syncs with a smartphone to generate a time-based secret key. Using this secret key, the smartphone can then create new PIN codes to open the Deadbolt 02, and neither the smartphone nor the smart lock needs to communicate with each other for these PINs to work. It’s similar to the technology that’s used in Google Authenticator and the security tokens issued by banks in Singapore.

Simply put, you can be elsewhere in the world and you can still generate a PIN code on your smartphone. All you need is to send the PIN number over, and your contact can use it to unlock the Deadbolt 02 back home. The algorithm underpinning Igloohome’s system is even smart enough to encode time-based access into the PIN codes. So, for example, you can create a new PIN that’s only good for one-time use, and through the sequence of numbers it creates, the PIN then informs the Deadbolt 02 that it only works once. However, while the Deadbolt 02 doesn’t need Wifi to work, your phone will need a data connection to communicate with Igloohome’s servers to generate the code. Centralising PIN generation on Igloohome’s servers makes it possible for more than a single owner to generate PIN codes.

And if all these smart features should somehow fail, the Deadbolt 02 still comes with a good old keyhole, to unlock with an old-fashioned key.

 

The pros and cons of a standalone smart lock

While the Deadbolt 02 cleverly avoids the problems with Wifi, staying off the grid has its pros and cons.

The secret key system can break down if the time on the smart lock and the app get out of sync. The Deadbolt 02 solves this problem by syncing its internal clock with the smartphone’s every time it uses Bluetooth to unlock. There’s also a secondary battery inside the Deadbolt 02 that keeps time, even when the main battery runs out.

Since it doesn’t need to connect to a smart hub to work, the Deadbolt 02 provides an affordable and simple way to start on a smart home. While it can’t connect to Wifi only smart hubs, it can connect to smart hubs with Bluetooth. Without an internet connection, the Deadbolt 02 also can’t tell you if someone has just entered your home using a PIN code. Instead, the Deadbolt 02 will download an entry log onto your smartphone when you unlock it via Bluetooth. However, if someone uses Bluetooth to open the lock, the Deadbolt 02 will send a notification to the owner’s smartphone, using the data connection on the unlocking smartphone.

Staying offline protects the Deadbolt 02 safe from online attacks, but Bluetooth smart locks can still be hacked. To defend against hacking, Igloohome uses 128-bit AES encryption to encryption communications between devices. Every data connection between the smartphone and lock is encoded with a timestamp so that it’s only valid for that time. And if you suspect you’ve been compromised, re-pairing the Deadbolt 02 to your account refreshes the encryption key.

 

Adapted form Hardware Zone.