IDC has supported the development of a novel keyless entry system, specifically designed for property managers on platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway.
Smarke’s keyless entry system uses a bluetooth mobile phone app which controls a locking device attached to the door. The system enables property owners to remotely control the entry of guests to the site from wherever they are, by setting dates and times for guest access. The guests then use their mobile phones to lock and unlock doors via the secure Bluetooth system.
Smarke came to IDC for support in designing the hardware for the locking system. They had produced an alpha prototype of the device, but needed the mechanism and electronics to be refined, as well as input on the overall design to make it more robust and aesthetically pleasing. IDC’s first step was to carry out user research to understand exactly how the guests would be interacting with the system each time they needed to enter the building. Factors such as ‘touch points’ for where they would position their mobile phone, were important considerations in the design and for the electronics within the locking device.
Andrew Carson, Design Engineer at IDC, explains, “The challenge for IDC was to make sure we delivered a product that worked for the user. Keys and locks have been around for hundreds of years, so by introducing a new method of access, we needed to be certain that the product was quick and easy to use by all.”
Another challenge for IDC’s engineering team was to design a mechanism with robust components capable of locking and unlocking the door thousands of times, while being packaged into a compact and stylish looking product. The locking mechanisms included a euro profile cylinder lock and a night latch version of the device.
IDC’s industrial designers took inspiration from Smarke’s cloud shaped logo when developing the look and feel of the product; designing a soft, curved figure-of-eight shaped device that would generate recognition for the Smarke product family. A choice of colours and finishes were explored for the product, so the locking hardware would blend with the colour scheme of the door. The main structure of the device is to be formed from metal with a plastic outer casing formed from polycarbonate or ABS plastic, which allowed a choice of colours and finishes. IDC is managing the manufacturing process in China, benefiting from its network of suppliers through IDC China.
IDC Models produced prototypes throughout the development, with numerous SLA models to support decisions about styling and colours, as well as internal components to prove the mechanical design. IDC’s electronic engineers also worked with the model makers to produce two working prototypes of the final design.
There is already a great amount of interest in Smarke’s new product for the property rental market. As well as this, the company has had many enquiries about keyless systems for private home owners, so Smarke plans to roll out its product on a larger scale and is launching a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo on March 15th.