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The Evolution of Door Locks: 20 Years and Counting


Door locks are something we see on nearly every entryway we access. In fact, door locks are so commonplace that we often take for granted what they actually do for us. It’s easy to overlook the benefits of something we see every day. Over time, different types of door locks have been used to secure access to our homes. However, door security has recently made some interesting jumps forward that are simplifying the way we approach our home’s security.

The history of the door lock

The history of the door lock

The desire to protect our assets and loved ones using door security is not a new concept. Different types of door locks have been around for thousands of years. About six thousand years ago, the Egyptians developed a type of lock that preceded our modern locks. This type of lock has become known as the pin tumbler. Made entirely of wood, this lock utilized pins inside of a casing. A wooden key would correspond to the pins and when inserted, would disable the pins allowing the lock to open. This functioned similarly to modern locks.

Little innovation would occur until much later when the 18th century brought advancements in metallurgy and manufacturing. This allowed for a strong casing and the use of a metal key with notches, strengthening security by leaps and bounds.

Now, the majority of the keyed locks we see are just variations on this 150-year-old design. While things remained relatively the same for a long period, we recently saw another jump in the innovation of door security about 20 years ago.

Improved security with electronic deadbolts

Improved security with electronic deadbolts

Approximately 20 years ago, a problem was plaguing the hotel industry. Door lock companies realized that hotels needed a more secure way to protect hotel residents. To meet the challenge, they introduced a type of lock that made use of the electronic deadbolt and electronic latch.

These electronic versions of the standard door lock and deadbolt lock are operated by a magnetic field to push and pull the lock plunger or engage the knob so it can be turned. This allowed hotels to use programmable cards instead of keys. The cards can be reprogrammed to fit multiple locks and are much more difficult to copy. However, these were initially limited to hotels and businesses primarily due to the high cost and technology support needed to operate and program this type of lock.

Smart locks for the home

Smart locks for the home

The limitations surrounding electronic locks changed around 10 years ago. With the integration of the smart home, residential lock manufacturers realized that incorporating the commercial electronic door lock system into an affordable residential lock would make the door lock more convenient for consumers.

The home owner can now ditch the key and use other methods to disable different types of door locks. These innovations to door security include smart locks that can be opened with:

It seems that as we lose the physical key, the possibilities are endless. Some smart locks even allow for up to 250 individual codes to be programmed so that you know who can track individual movements of those coming and going. Modern locks are even Wi-Fi capable so you can lock and unlock your door from anywhere with internet capability. Many of the smart lock options also allow for integration with other smart devices in the home.

Continued innovations have brought door security into the folds of the smart home. With such advancements in home security, it’s difficult to predict where we will end up. However, it’s safe to say that we will be safer.