Forget keys – Ola Smart Lock Uses a Fingerprint Sensor
Keys are so 20th century, right? Even using your phone to open a door seems kind of outdated. So how about using your fingerprint instead?
That’s the thinking behind Ola, promising to be the work’s first key-less and phone-less Bluetooth-enabled fingerprint smart lock. It works remarkably simply. All you have to do is place your fingerprint directly on the handle and the door will unlock. There’s no need to struggle to swipe a key-card, or place your entire hand on something – it just works. Pretty much every “smart” lock that’s hit the market in the past couple years has been designed to work with your smartphone and to use either a Bluetooth or WI-Fi connection to determine when you’ve come within range of the door, which then unlocks. In theory, it’s not a half-bad idea, but in practice, it leaves a bit to be desired. Wireless connections between lock and phone are often slow to establish, and sometimes just flat-out don’t work, which isn’t exactly the most convenient thing in the world when you’re trying to get into your house or apartment. Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to fiddle with keys or phones at all?
Developed by a Beijing-based company, Ola is a Bluetooth- enabled entry lock with a fingerprint scanner built right into its handle. While it does have a dedicated app-duh, it’s a smart lock-its role is fairly limited beyond the initial setup process. Ola’s developers say you don’t need the phone once you’ve scanned your lock’s unique QR code and registered your fingerprint; you can unlock your door in less than a second by simply touching the sensor.
Why this matters: Nearly every established brand-and quite a few newcomers-have entered this rapidly growing market, each with its own idea about how a smart lock should function. Some locks require you to take out your phone and tap an on-screen button to unlock your door, others are equipped with a proximity sensor for hands-free entry, and still others rely on keypads on the lock itself. The problem with these existing approaches is their reliance on either smartphones-things that are known to be forgotten on occasion, run out of juice, and even become lost-or the users’ ability to memorize a passcode. Ola bucks that trend with a solution that seems to be both convenient and remarkably simple.
The app isn’t entirely useless, though. It too can be used for unlocking if that’s what you want. But why would anyone buying this lock want to go through the whole rigmarole of taking out the phone, ensuring Bluetooth is on, firing up the app, and tapping madly to gain entry?
Well, let’s not overlook the need to grant access to family, friends and other visitors every now and then. You can generate temporary keys for them using the app, allowing them to unlock your door via Bluetooth.
Ola is a complete lock, and not an add-on for your existing setup, and will be available in both mortise and latch-bolt variants. It has a capacitive touch fingerprint sensor (developed by the Swedish company Fingerprint Cards) that uses a radio frequency signal to scan sub-dermal fingerprint patterns. For added security, the scanned fingerprints are stored only inside Ola. There are four AA batteries that should last you 2-3 years; but should they die on you all of a sudden, there’s a backup set that can be activated with a single button. And if that too fails, there’s a micro-USB port for powering the unit from an external battery. It’s simple to use and very secure, thanks to there being no chance of lock bumping or lock picking. You can use the Ola app to set up temporary keys for your friends and family too, adding to the convenience and security factor.