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Bluetooth padlock eliminates need for keys

Just click this nifty new lock now seeking funds on Kickstarter, and if it senses the right smartphone nearby, it's supposed to open like magic.

Michael Franco
Freelancer Michael Franco writes about the serious and silly sides of science and technology for CNET and other pixel and paper pubs. He's kept his fingers on the keyboard while owning a B&B in Amish country, managing an eco-resort in the Caribbean, sweating in Singapore, and rehydrating (with beer, of course) in Prague. E-mail Michael.
Michael Franco
2 min read

The Noke opens with just a click when your smartphone is nearby. Fūz Designs

As a Chronic Loser of Things (CLOT -- yes, I made that up, but feel free to use it), a new device now raising funds on Kickstarter particularly caught my eye. It's a padlock that is triggered by a Bluetooth signal from your smartphone. No keys, no combinations needed.

Called Noke (and inexplicably pronounced "no key," not "noak"), the lock pairs with an app on your smartphone. According to the Kickstarter pitch, once that's accomplished all you need to do is click the hasp down into the body of the lock. It searches for your smartphone in the near vicinity, and if it's present, it unlocks. You don't even need to take your phone out of your pocket; its mere presence is enough.

Yes, I hear you asking: "O great CLOT, what happens if you lose your smartphone?"

The folks at Fūz Designs, who developed Noke, have clearly met people like me, because they have built a failsafe into the device for just such a situation. You can set up a "click code" that will unlock the Noke in case you lose your phone or it runs out of juice while your bike is still locked to a tree. Program in a series of short and long clicks and then simply repeat that pattern to unlock the Noke when your phone's not around.

You can also share the key with anyone else who has a Noke app. So if the guys come to mow the back lawn while you're away, you can beam the key to them and the Noke will open from their smartphones. You can give a key away on a one-time or permanent-use basis.

The Noke is claiming to be the world's first Bluetooth padlock and if it reaches its funding goal of $100,000, it just may earn that distinction. But it's definitely not the world's first Bluetooth padlock concept -- or the first to attempt a Kickstarter campaign.

A device called the Teo by OckCorp that sounds awfully similar to the Noke made a run on Kickstarter earlier this year and raised $107,026 CAD, falling short of its $165,000 CAD goal, so it looks like that project is dead in the water. Maybe with its slightly more modest fundraising goal, the Noke will succeed where the Teo failed. As a confirmed CLOT, I certainly hope so.

Oh, and the price? $59, about £35 or AU$63, will lock up one Noke for you, which, the developers say, represents $30 off retail. Would it be worth it? You be the judge.