Smartphones can now be used to open doors

Scientists at AT&T Labs have developed a new system using the smartphone alongwith a piezoelectric gadget that allows only the rightful owner of a house to open the door. Part of the device is fitted to a phone and corresponds to another device inside the doorlock. Together, they work like a security apparatus in a rather unique way – using one’s skeletal frame.

Although currently the prototype works with the piezoelectric transducer wired to the phone, AT&T Labs scientists assure us that the final version would have smartphones already fitted with such a feature.

When a person wants to open his house door, he/she only has to use the smartphone which will then emit vibrations, actually an audio signal that is barely audible. These vibes, rather the sound waves, travel through the user’s skeletal structure resulting in a distinctive frequency. The vibration is directed to a piezoelectric sensor that is fitted inside the doorlock. All the user has to do is turn the doorknob with his hand. The sensor receives and opens the lock only after it has identified the user’s unique frequency.

The implication is that anybody else attempting to turn the doorknob would fail to unlock the door. How precise the sensor’s readings are remain to be seen, as I believe any heavy or metallic object on the person’s body may likely distort the vibration/signal and the doorlock may not open. My guess is that another person with the same height and build, especially an identical twin, may be able to open the door. The skeletal or skeleto-muscular structure of a person is not as unique or distinctive as fingerprints or even dental structure.

Nonetheless, it is a significant innovation and could lead to a more accurate device in the near future as the scientists expect it will. A future version could be one in which the sensor is embedded into the mobile or even a wristwatch. As a security apparatus, it might also include a feature that alerts the real homeowner on their mobile in case an unidentified person attempts to open the door.

The prototype of the device was unveiled at a tech fair that the company held exclusively for reporters. According to InnovationNewsDaily, the AT&T Lab folks are contemplating further possibilities from the technology. They are hoping to eventually develop a device that allows contact information to be shared simply by shaking hands. Another possible usage could be in things like a car driver’s seat or a couch. Fitted in a driver’s seat, it might help to avoid car theft or perform simple operations like personalizing mirror positions. If the device is fitted in a couch it could automatically adjust the air-conditioner’s settings or switch on the person’s favorite TV channels.

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