Remember that popular TV show ‘Khulja simsim’ where the host would repeat these words and the magic door would open on his command? What if you could do that in real life? Just wave your smartphone and voila, doors open up. Let’s be honest, no one really likes to carry an identity card everywhere in an office campus, or think of the doctors in the hospitals. And what if you forget your hotel room key card? Going back all the way to the reception is surely an added pain.
This is precisely the pain point that Tharun Reddy and Krishna Teja, both IIT Hyderabad-grads, have tried to address with LockN. Founded in 2018, this start-up received $70,000 from CoWrks Foundry and is aiming to raise $1 million in the next six months. So, how does it make lives a tad easier? It aims to provide mobile-access solutions, which can eventually replace RFID identification access systems. This tech is currently being tested at Narayana Hrudalaya hospital in Bengaluru, where the doctors install an app on their smartphones, which act as smart access cards. Plus, the access doors have smart electronic locks that are connected to the hospital’s server. Every time a doctor approaches a door, a low-energy Bluetooth signal from the smartphone hits the smart lock. Depending on the access rights, the doctor is granted or denied entry.
The access rights are configurable and situations like mandating sanitisation of hands can be fed to the system. For example, if a doctor decides to step out of an operation theatre for a break but forgets to sanitise his hands, the door would deny access and the doctor wouldn’t be able to step out. This could easily be done by adding a sensor at the sanitiser dispenser.
Similarly, meeting rooms’ smart locks can be configured with pre-set time to allow access to the attendees so that only people on time are allowed access. Reddy and Teja also aim to take their idea to the real estate, logistics, and hospitality industry. “The idea is to make life as seamless as possible. Just like internet allows you to sign-in to most sites through your Facebook or Google accounts, why not have something like that in real life?”, asks Reddy.
Taking the road to smartphone access systems is also crucial when it comes to security, especially in labour-intensive sectors. For instance, the door to a chamber can be locked only once all the workers are out. LockN is already running a pilot for such a system with BALCO, the aluminium-manufacturing company.
The start-up’s tech also simplifies the process of record-keeping for visitors by making it fully automated. Its access system can also work alongside an RFID system. Thus, offices won’t have to do away with older locks and those who don’t have smartphones can also access office spaces.
Reddy and Teja claim that these deals, if realised, could fetch them up to $100,000 a deal in yearly subscription. That may seem steep, but according to Reddy, traditional RFID-based systems can cost up to Rs.100,000 per door, and companies pay to the tune of another Rs.100,000 for a local software server. Comparitively, LockN claims to be much more affordable. “Our complete system (SIMSIM-R) costs around Rs. 20,000 and it will cost Rs. 15,000 to upgrade an existing system,” he says. “The interaction between your phone and the lock is completely encrypted,” Reddy adds. Effectively, the next time you leave for the office, you don’t have to worry about remembering to carry your access card. And you’ll rarely forget your phone. All you have to do is flash your most precious device at the door.