Awesome Stuff: Lock It Up

from the safe-not-sorry dept

This week’s awesome stuff is all about security, but not of the “cyber” variety. No, we’re taking a look at some brand new takes on good old fashioned locks.

Lock Your Mail!

Though technology has drastically changed the role of snail mail in the world, that doesn’t mean the latter can’t benefit from the former. The wi-fi enabled Smart Mailbox is designed to offer convenient security (it locks and unlocks via smartphone app) and plain old convenience (it can notify you inside when new mail has arrived). And despite American preconceptions about us not even bothering to lock our doors, it’s being made in Canada! The project has only just launched, so it remains to be seen if it will come anywhere close to its $50,000 goal.

Lock Your Bike!

Speaking of local locking habits, they seem to swing wildly from place to place. In some cities, locking up a bicycle isn’t enough — some enterprising thief will strip it of its precious wheels. If you live in one of those places, you might benefit from the Nutlock system, which builds extra security into the nuts and bolts of the bike, literally:

Some cities, however, are the exact opposite — people don’t even need to bother locking their bike to a rack or post, instead sticking with the token gesture of locking the frame to one wheel, because who would steal a bike they can’t ride away on? If you’re lucky enough to be a cyclist in such a city, the ultra-compact VIER lock might be for you:

Lock Your Locker!

It’s back to school season, which I imagine is like Christmas for combination padlock manufacturers. But if the nearly $400,000 (at time of writing) raised by the Bluetooth-activated, smartphone-controlled Noke is any indication, people are getting a little tired of the old standard.

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Comments on “Awesome Stuff: Lock It Up”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The Noke looked good for a short while.

Hard keys are not really as secure as ‘soft’ keys (ie: proximity cards). With soft keys you can arbitrarily assign and revoke keys conveniently simply by changing a setting in a computer, you can control who has access to what doors and easily change access parameters at will, and you can audit who came into what door when (or at least what badge was used). You can also program the key reader to beep whenever someone places a card next to it which alerts those around it that someone is here and attempting to enter. With a hard key if someone duplicates it then you would have to physically change all the locks to revoke the key and who wants to do all that.

Beta (profile) says:


Before I trust the Noke, I’d like to know the exact challenge-and-response protocol. When a company doesn’t reveal such details, it usually means that the protocol is full of holes. It’s not hard to imagine a “straightforward” design that would allow a device pretending to be a Noke to quietly collect the keys of all Noke-users who walk past it.

Smeagol says:

Stale cache somewhere?

I can’t see today’s “A Look Back in Techdirt History” post for some reason. It’s missing from the main page, the forwards link to it is missing from this page, etc. — almost as if it is still not yet noon on Saturday, instead of already into the wee hours of Sunday morning.

This suggests that my view of the site is stale by over half a day.

Is there anything I can do to view the Techdirt History post for this week right away, or do I just have to wait for whatever the logjam is to clear up on its own?

Smeagol says:

Re: Stale cache somewhere?

OK, it must be something stranger than that. Reloading, I can now see my own previous comment, and reply to it as I am doing now, but I still don’t see the link forwards to the next article at the top of the page. How can the top of this page be fifteen hours out of date while the bottom of it is up to date to within at most a few minutes, at the same time?

The only “simple” explanation that could explain those data seems to be human error, to wit, someone simply forgot to post the Look Back article at the normal time today. But techdirt has a reputation for running a tighter ship than that, so I dismiss it as unlikely.

I’m scratching my head though to think of what sort of technical problem could cause a single .shtml file to be served to an end-user as a patchwork mix of different versions spanning most of a day of the file’s history…are some of the navigation links dynamically generated by client-side scripts, based on AJAX requests for objects that might be seen from the client end as staler versions than the comment objects, perhaps?

Touche79 (profile) says:

Also great physical locks for any rack-mounted electronics

Check out Denver Innovations at – they have some really cool physical locks that go over rack-mounted switches, routers, multiplexers and musical equipment.

Nobody gets to your stuff without the keys or combinations, and they can be installed over already working equipment and have built-in cable management

allengarvin (profile) says:

Lock my mailbox?

I do pretty much 100% of my financial transactions online (with the single exception of tax documents mailed at the start of the year). Lock my mail box? Bah, I’d love for thieves to get into it, and still the bulk junk advertisements that fill it up every week.

(Apparently no one else needs it either. A week in, it doesn’t have a single solitary contribution)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Lock my mailbox?

Another road block for their Kickstarter to keep in mind is that the Canadian postal service has been making noise about getting rid of door to door mail delivery all together. Maybe they plan on marketing themselves to Americans but there’s a strong possibility that if you purchased it in Canada you wouldn’t even have a use for it within the next few years. It seems like a neat idea but it’s just not that useful.

Ninja (profile) says:

Hmmm, I don’t fully trust those locks that can be opened wirelessly. What would prevent a criminal from using some homemade device from making it try tons of combinations till the right one arrives? Or install something to read the exchange between the lock and the phone and try to crack it?

I don’t know how security is carried out here so I might be worried for nothing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That depends on if it is done right or not. Say if you are limited to a try every ten seconds and the key is very long they’ll be there for a very, very, long time and a combination spammer would be useless enough. Likewise if the protocols are done well listening to the exchange will give them nothing useful.

What I would worry about most with the design is how it deals with loss of power.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The thing about those hotel room locks was that they were hackable because of a criminally bad design (it was possible to physically access a diagnostic port without a key), not because of any inherent technological flaw.

(Not to say that there is no inherent technological flaw in them — I don’t know about that one way or the other)

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