Keys have been in use since ancient Egyptian times. In fact, the modern key we use today, invented by Linus Yale Junior in 1861, was based on the 4,000 year-old principle behind the original creation.

Amazing really, in today’s age of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it technical innovation, that something manual that has been around for so long is still in use. With electronic versions of so many day-to-day things now being the norm – from flight boarding passes to music – it makes you wonder how the humble key has survived, and begs the question, how much longer will it be a part of our lives?

Hotel Rooms and Keyless Cars

Of course, traditional keys have already started to be replaced in a number of settings. Hotels were one of the first industries to scrap them in favour of key cards for both security and cost saving reasons. Then came the motoring industry, introducing keyless vehicle entry. Technology commentators say that in the near future, a smartphone app will take over from both of these and in fact, Hilton Hotel guests will, from next year, be able to get into their rooms using their smartphones.

Many of our clients in the medical and educational sectors have now switched to keyless entry systems, with biometric entry and digital key cards replacing traditional locks and keys in schools and hospitals.

But what about in a domestic setting? Would you replace your traditional lock and key for a digital entry system, or a lock that is controlled by your smartphone? Do you trust technology enough to award it the responsibility of securing your home and its precious contents?

Smartphone Controlled Home Security?

In early 2015, Apple is expected to launch HomeKit, a much talked-about home automation tool that allows developers to connect devices in the home to an iPhone or iPad, allowing fingertip control over heating, lighting, appliances – and security. The August Smartlock, already available, allows homeowners to open doors via a smartphone, as well as giving guests access at specific times. If the power fails, then a traditional key can be used as a backup.

But whilst technology is great for many things, is it really right to entrust the security of your home to it? Will it really take off, or is it something that sounds good in theory, but in reality will be more of a worry than anything else?

What the Experts Say

TV property expert Sarah Beeny feels that whilst biometric (fingerprint) entry and retinal screening may be a normal part of life at some point in the future, they won’t be a safer or more economical alternative to the traditional key. Guardian technology writer Charles Arthur says that people are generally happy to trust hotel key cards and keyless access to their cars, but that they hold the security of their home in much higher esteem. He questions what happens in the event of a power cut or a fire, asking ‘does it stop working?

Brian Morland of the History of Locks Museum in Bournemouth also makes a very valid point, saying: “You drop a key in water and it’s okay. If you drop an electronic key (or smartphone) it will cause endless problems.”

We believe that there will always be a place for the traditional key in home security, and in some commercial security settings too. After all, even with electronic alternatives, you still need a manual backup!

Key or Keyless? It all Comes Down to Tailored Solutions.

Really what it comes down to is tailoring security solutions to the situation and particular requirements. Biometric access, digital entry locks, audio/video, code/card and token entry systems are all viable solutions, but in the right setting. If you’d like to speak to one of our door entry or locksmith experts about a tailored solution for your particular security needs, please get in touch.