back to article Big shock: $700 Internet-of-Things door lock not a success

You won't have a $700 smart lock to kick around any more, as Otto (no, not that one) shut down and sacked its staff just before Christmas – without ever delivering a product. Otto, whose sole gizmo was to be an internet-connected finger-scanning front-door lock, said it ran out of money, and will not be able to ship its gear …

  1. elDog Silver badge

    This is such a worthless bit of reporting

    That I'm not going to comment.

    Except I will say that there are fools born every couple of hours that have too much money and still buy Piaget-type bing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is such a worthless bit of reporting

      You're not going to comment, except to leave a comment?

      I like the drugs you're on! Can you please share?

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: This is such a worthless bit of reporting

        That and whatever Jadallah took before writing that press statement

  2. Captain DaFt

    The perfect IoT device!

    Lots of Hype and superlatives, amusing anecdotes ripe with bon mots, a final tale of betrayal, and lastly, a product with absolutely no insecurities, backdoors, shoddy programming or construction, because it never existed!

    The only losers here are the suckers backers that fell for the hype.

    Hopefully, they'll know better next time.

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: The perfect IoT device!

      Was recently sat in front of the telly with my partner and we were treated to the heart-warming Yale advert for their IoT-lock-thingummy.

      In the ad the prodigal daughter comes home having been sent an electronic "key" via smartphone. She let's herself in and joins the family Christmas gathering. My partner, a very measured lady with refreshingly little technical knowledge, quipped "If they loved her so much they'd have given her a real key".

      1. handleoclast Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: The perfect IoT device!

        Can you use electronic keys at wife-swapping parties?

        1. JimboSmith Silver badge

          Re: The perfect IoT device!

          Can you use electronic keys at wife-swapping parties?

          One of the best Victoria Wood lines for me was:

          I once went to one of those parties where everyone throws their car keys into the middle of the room. I don't know who got my moped but I've been driving that Peugeot for years.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: The perfect IoT device!

          "Can you use electronic keys at wife-swapping parties?"

          or electronic wives at key-swapping parties...

      2. Adam 1 Silver badge

        Re: The perfect IoT device!

        > If they loved her so much they'd have given her a real key.

        Just going out on a limb here, but if they're all sharing a Christmas dinner, one of them could've just got up, and in the spirit goodwill to all mankind, opened the door when she knocked.

        1. AdamWill

          Re: The perfect IoT device!

          Heh, "why didn't she just knock on the fucking door" was my immediate thought too. Truly, technology is solving the critical problems of our times! I am so proud of what we do!

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: The perfect IoT device!

      absolutely no [...] backdoors

      It was supposed to go on your front AND back door, so that's $1400; $2100 if you have a garage with a door into your house. Or do you leave them with tumbler locks? Now there's a backdoor.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: The perfect IoT device!

        "that's $1400; $2100 if you have a garage with a door into your house"

        and all could potentially be defeated with cellophane tape to lift a print, and some superglue and graphite to re-construct it (so it can be 'scanned')

        1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

          Re: The perfect IoT device!

          and all could potentially be defeated with cellophane tape to lift a print, and some superglue and graphite to re-construct it (so it can be 'scanned')

          I think you underestimate the ability and intelligence of your average burglar. Most will just put a brick through your window.

          Nothing like a $700 dollar lock to advertise you have a lot of nickable stuff

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: The perfect IoT device!

            Late 1980s. An office was constructed with doors into both the DC and the outside world. The DC walls were two layers of cinder block, with a large steel double-wide firedoor having twelve or sixteen electric deadbolts surrounding the perimeter. Tours for visiting bigwigs always included this door, as an example of how secure the DC was.

            I needed to get into the DC late one night to troubleshoot a problem with a major client, but my access code only worked "9 to 5". Nobody else in the building could get in, either. I called $BOSS ... at 3am. He said "handle it, jake, I've got your back". I handed the phone to the security guard. The guard listened for a couple seconds, hung up, and said "just do it".

            So I punched a hole in the office wall's 5/8ths sheetrock (drywall, gypsum board, whatever it's called in your jurisdiction) between the studs next to the door, reached in to turn the doorknob to let myself in, and strolled through the inner door into the DC. Took all of five seconds.

            Naturally, The Board had a conniption fit over my easy break-in to their "secure" room. When all the shouting died down, I was offered the "Head of Corporate Security" moniker on my business cards. I politely declined ... I much preferred working for the boss who indeed DID cover my back when the rest of The Board was calling for my head on a platter.

      2. Jtom Bronze badge

        Re: The perfect IoT device!

        I have two exterior doors in my daylight basement, two going to my deck, one to the garage, and the front door. Six doors. $4200 for locks? Don't think so. As I use to lecture udergrads, even the greatest ideas must be cost effective before it's viable.

  3. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    I recently had to reconfigure the deadbolt on my pre-hung front door on account of the house changing shape every three months finally having walked the door frame enough out-of square for the deadbolt to bind in the mortise every summer (humidity expands frame of house) and winter (extreme cold causes frame to shrink) to the point it requires a team of burly longshoremen to lean on the door while the key is turned - from the inside!

    This, naturally, poses a security hazard as longshoremen are often of the swarthy, shifty-eyed foreigner sort HP Lovecraft warns us about on every third page. One can never be sure they haven't spent the day going through the underwear drawer, running up the pay-per-view bill or erecting shrines to Dagon and chanting in their foul, debased dialect.

    I would love to see what this small gear train would do if caught at the start if the process, when the door locks perfectly freely in the morning but won't unlock without placing both feet against the wall and pulling the knob with one hand while thumbing the lock with the other that night.

    We aren't talking nylon gears press-fitted on the shafts are we? Because I've several examples from model locomotives to a Sony remote pan head that demonstrate how that inexpensive design choice eventually ends up costing the owner deep in't purse when the gears split.

    My cartridge CD player has a habit every 18 months or so of shedding a worm gear when, instead of the transport unit climbing into position as the motor spins, the nylon gear walks off the shaft. Annoying but less catastrophic in a hifi unit than a front door.

    Reckon I'll stick with the old fashioned key. I've just spent an hour re-shaping the mortise, blanking off the old screw holes (used a sawn-off pencil because couldn't find the dowel I had no car to go get another one) drilling new ones and refitting the brasswear. It's be a shame if that was all for nothing.

    1. cosymart
      FAIL

      Re: Bah!

      You obviously have not heard the story of the 3 pigs and the big bad wolf. A house made with sticks is not a good choice :-(

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      Pffft. American door jambs are pretty much hollow cardboard. Maybe 1/4" of wood between me and the rest of "civilization" - put your weight into it and the bolt carves right through.

      Maybe that's why we all own guns...

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        Meh. My front door, which is quite typical for my city, puts maybe 4mm of glass between me and the rest of civilisation - and yet very few people own guns.

        The trick is to leave out the scare quotes around "civilization".

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        My doors are much more substantial than cardboard. They're reinforced to the point where going through a window or the wall is an easier option. The interior doors aren't all that tough, but kicking through the drywall from one room to the next is too easy to put in solid core doors.

        1. JimboSmith Silver badge

          Re: Bah!

          My doors are much more substantial than cardboard. They're reinforced to the point where going through a window or the wall is an easier option. The interior doors aren't all that tough, but kicking through the drywall from one room to the next is too easy to put in solid core doors.

          I looked round a flat in London which the estate agent had said was in a very good area i.e. low crime. The external doors all had solid metal cores, the windows all had inch thick bars across them and the locks were reinforced. There was an alarm which was top of the range and despite the bars on the window there were also window locks. It made me laugh when the agent told me that she thought the current owner was a little bit paranoid.

      3. jake Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        "American door jambs are pretty much hollow cardboard."

        Not true. Unless the owner is a cheapskate, of course.

      4. This post has been deleted by its author

      5. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: American door jambs are pretty much hollow cardboard.

        Yours might be, but mine was a pre-hung Stanley door I installed myself, and it has a substantial frame properly fitted so that the important bits mount properly into the frame of the house.

        Said frame is made from wood so tough nails have been known to bounce out when driven - the last time I encountered wood with this tight a grain it was in a forklift pallet I was trying to repurpose.

        Frame on house dates from 1950, when forests were still around. The Stanley door dates from 1988 or so, when he concept was new and the materials used were of the usual first-run high quality.

        I freely concede that the framing on todays houses and the construction of today's Stanley pre-hung doors may be made of ticky-tacky.

        30 years from a door before the frame goes 1/8th out of true ain't bad in my opinion.

      6. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Bah!

        typical house locks only have tumblers on one side and 5 or 6 of them. anyone with lockpick skills should be able to manage it in a reasonably short period of time... or else just kick the door if you don't mind making a loud noise.

        a vicious guard dog costs less than the locks.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Bah!

          a vicious guard dog costs less than the locks.

          Really? Locks don't need to eat. They don't need to be taken for a walk twice every day either.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: Bah!

          Vicious animals cost an arm and a leg more than locks (if you'll pardon the expression). Starting with your insurance premium.

          I personally own three SchH3 GSDs. They will defend my property to the death if I ask them to, no questions asked. All three of them are also certified therapy dogs; the veterans in the Yountville Veterans Home love them to pieces, and they return the favo(u)r. Also no questions asked. One is currently snoozing with my 7 year old grand daughter.

          My properly trained dogs aren't vicious at all, and yet I can safely leave my house unlocked for a long weekend. I don't, mind ... Insurance says no.

          Locksmithing (as opposed to "picking") is a fairly easy skill to pick up. It's also quite handy occasionally. In my opinion, it's a "must learn" skill for any well-rounded hacker. (That's the real meaning of hacker, not the corrupt version the media insists on using.)

    3. hplasm Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Bah!

      Sounds like you need the prototype Otto - An Otto-cycle 2hp engine on a series II Landrover gearbox. That should shift your bolt...

      1. Andy 68

        Re: Bah!

        > An Otto-cycle 2hp engine

        Where

        hp = Hurley Pugh

        ?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bah!

      I recently had to reconfigure the deadbolt on my pre-hung front door on account of the house changing shape every three months

      You're clearly not their target market, you appear to be placing security ahead of image.

      Anyone who'll pay $700 for an IoT lock can certainly afford the few $m to have their door frames built out of Invar, reinforced against Richter-8 quakes. And gold-plated, so the shiny-shiny doesn't fade.

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Bah!

        "I recently had to reconfigure the deadbolt on my pre-hung front door on account of the house changing shape every three months"

        Is your house a caravan? I hear they can expand due to heat...

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: Is your house a caravan?

          No, it is a wooden framed, brick and aluminum siding clad structure on a corner lot in a place where the summer temperature can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer with extremely high humidity, and dip below 8 degrees Fahrenheit in winter with no humidity to speak of.

          Even Pyrex changes size over that range.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Is your house a caravan?

            "No, it is a wooden framed,"

            There's your problem right there, poxy pine framed construction.

            1. Stevie Silver badge

              Re:poxy pine framed construction.

              Spruce on today's houses here, on mine, maybe. But the grain is very very tight. Hardwood tight. If I'm driving nails in a part of the house that was reframed in the late sixties I can tell when I'm moving from an original stud to a Beatles-era one.

              You really need to let go of your preconceptions, AC. There certainly are shitty aspects of my house's construction, but the frame ain't one of them.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Re:poxy pine framed construction.

                No Spruce here. We use Fir for walls. Pine is only good for email.

                1. Stevie Silver badge
                  Pint

                  Re: Re:poxy pine framed construction.

                  Upvote and e-beer for Jake for Pine.

    5. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      This is such a massive pain in the arse. My bedroom door (not security related, just annoying) fits at the top but is at least 1/2" out at the bottom, my utility room door only fits because the door is as warped as the frame it sits in, and the glass door into the living room only closes properly in the morning. The only reason the outside doors work is that they come inside their own frame as one big uPVC bundle.

    6. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      " that inexpensive design choice eventually ends up costing the owner deep in't purse when the gears split."

      Having to buy a new lock every year isn't a bug, it's a design feature.

      Mockery aside, I'm actually with some of the other posters who say the idea of a smarter lock isn't inherently silly. To start with, more nuanced access rules is a very nice idea if it can be implemented properly. Attempts to do this with physical keys aren't great, not least because they always involve giving people the key to get into your house at some point, and no matter how well you try to control and log that they can always just get a copy cut before giving it back. Being able to assign temporary access to a fingerprint, for example, does solve that particular issue.

      Another important point I've not seen mentioned is that any system that relies on having a piece of metal poked into its working parts is vulnerable to having a different piece of metal poked into it. You can make locks more difficult to pick, but you can't avoid having that hole available for poking. A fully enclosed system should be inherently more resistant to physical tampering if it's designed properly.

      There are of course still plenty of problems, not least the issue of what happens when it loses power. And of course, relying on biometrics has all the same problems it always does. But just because all the problems haven't yet been solved doesn't mean the idea is inherently stupid and anyone suggesting there may be an improvement over centuries old technology we currently use must be an idiot. It does mean anyone actually buying such a system right now is an idiot, especially if it's like the one seen here, but it's entirely possible someone will come up with a useful solution some time in the not too distant future. It's easy to say that locks don't need improving, but that's what people always say right up until the improved version shows up, and given that locks are regularly compromised it's clear that the current version is far from perfect.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        "nuanced access"

        Maybe your problem is that this is an oxymoron.

      2. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: relying on biometrics has all the same problems it always does.

        I urge anyone who has the opportunity to visit NASA in Florida or Universal Studios, and to make use of their Biometric Lockers before forking over 700 notes for a front door lock.

        Your own experience might be a good one but look around. The locker bank is a massively parallel proof-of-concept experiment for the tech and in any group of a couple of hundred you are guaranteed to see at least one person with an assistant placed strategically to unlock doors that prove recalcitrant.

        If you double those odds, once every 15 months or so you will stand a good chance of being outside wanting in with no recourse (unless you hire the bloke for Universal with the Magic Swipe Card).

        If I suspect someone has copied a key without my permission I can replace the locks for less than 50 dollars spent in any local DIY store (there are 7 within easy driving distance of my house) and 15 minutes work.

        Put that up against the chance that someone will wander virtually in without opening the door, turn on the heat and turn off the fridge on the first day of your two week vacation because your door lock is insecure and was the entry point for the hackers that rooted your home network for fun.

      3. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        and no matter how well you try to control and log that they can always just get a copy cut before giving it back.

        There are locks however, and they start at about one-tenth of the price of this Otto lock, that you can't get duplicated at your average locksmith. You want a spare? You present the dealer with a token you received with the original purchase (NOT the actual key), plus some ID. If you want to have an illegal copy made you would need to pilfer a blank and get (access to) cutting tools. Which means that, if one of your house guests is capable of that, you need to be slightly more discerning in your choice of guests.

        You can make locks more difficult to pick, but you can't avoid having that hole available for poking.

        I know a world-class security engineer whose hobby is lock-picking. In which he's also world-class. There are fully mechanical locks he grades as 'couple of minutes with an angle grinder is less bothersome'.

        1. Mark 65 Silver badge

          Re: Bah!

          You present the dealer with a token you received with the original purchase (NOT the actual key), plus some ID. If you want to have an illegal copy made you would need to pilfer a blank and get (access to) cutting tools.

          Or work in the industry. Not entirely unknown for crimes to be committed by insiders.

        2. grumpy-old-person

          Re: Bah!

          Gordian lock?

    7. AndrueC Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Bah!

      I recently had to reconfigure the deadbolt on my pre-hung front door

      Is it well hung or does it have a small knob?

      Start the new year with a bad joke I always say.

    8. Milo Tsukroff

      Re: Bah!

      You wrote:

      > nylon gears press-fitted on the shafts ...

      > several examples from model locomotives ...

      Yep, I have some of those loco locomotives too. They run ... nowhere, just sit and spin. And the door lock I recently replaced cost me ... $11. American plus tax.

    9. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      I've had to fix a few of those over the years. However, no burly longshoremen were harmed during the process.

    10. handleoclast Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      I and my neighbours had similar problems with the shoddy doors fitted by the builder. We complained to the landlord, but he basically told us to fuck off (since he was also the builder). So at various points throughout the year, you'd hear doors slamming as people tried to get their locks to work (sometimes slamming helped a little, but mostly it was wasted effort). Usually it was no problem from the inside (thumb latch) but a bugger with the key (so much so that we were afraid that applying too much force would snap the key)..

      I eventually found the trick was to push up on the handle, raising the door slightly. One of my neighbours tried a similar trick, lifting at the letter slot. Whereby he found out that the design of the flap meant it instantly snapped the plastic pivot/springy thing, irreparably detaching the flap. Well, you could repair it with wood screws into the pivot holes, but it no longer sprang closed.

      Eventually the builder/landlord sent one of his guys around to drop the striker plates a quarter inch.

    11. highdiver_2000

      Re: Bah!

      If the existing holes are too big, you can use toothpicks to help the wood screw to bite.

      My government build flat comes with steel door frames. Everywhere! Including the freaking bathrooms!

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re:use toothpicks to help the wood screw to bite.

        My tool-tip for the day would be to consider using the cedar wrappers from cigars (ask your smoker colleagues for them). They are great for all sorts of screw-tightening jobs. I've used them to tighten up the piano-peg tuners in an old autoharp for example.

        In my case the holes needed to move, but not very much. The old holes had to be unmade so new ones would be in wood, not half in pre-existing hole. One does that with tight-fitting dowels. Or a pencil. 8o)

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Re:use toothpicks to help the wood screw to bite.

          Round toothpicks and wood glue. Scrape & blow out the loose bits from the hole, squeeze in some glue, place as many glue coated toothpicks as will fit into the hole, then tap in another coated toothpick or three with a light hammer. Allow to set, flush trim the protruding pieces, and treat the result as virgin wood. Works for me.

  4. DNTP

    Question and (hypothetical) answer:

    Q: If they'd actually released a product before going out of business, would the users have been able to keep, well, using their $700 product without a continuous online connection to the central cloud user data marketing server?

    A: Don't be silly, of course not (probably). The value of selling your marketing data to unspecified third party affiliates is what subsidizes the price of junk like this at an affordable level. If you're not generating saleable personal information, you're not using IoT devices correctly, and therefore don't deserve be using them at all!

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Question and (hypothetical) answer:

      "If you're not generating saleable personal information, you're not using IoT devices correctly, and therefore don't deserve be using them at all!"

      Nice one. I like the implicit point that the real user is the vendor.

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Question and (hypothetical) answer:

      "Don't be silly, of course not (probably). The value of selling your marketing data to unspecified third party affiliates is what subsidizes the price of junk like this at an affordable level."

      It was supposed to have cost $700. What would it have cost without that?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "I was stunned", says IoT peddler CEO

    Was stunned too after reading this IoT Xmas shopping advice from the BBC. Are IoT companies drinking Snapchat share-price koolaid or what? Wake-up! No one wants this shit in their home! Reality Distortion Field may pay for IoT peddling, but IoT privacy / hacking / extortion is headline news!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-42361279

  6. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    $700 versus $25

    Manual, keyed deadbolts are available at Home Depot over here for $25 +/- depending on finish, etc. So please tell why I should pay 28x the price of a very reliable mechanical deadbolt?

    I await your answer.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: $700 versus $25

      Well.... some engineers/programmers will make a few dollars. Some assemblers will make very few dollars. Sales, execs will pocket big bucks in bonuses and shares. Shareholders will have maximum value returned. All this will make some people very rich and will help make America great again....

      However, I'm with you. Reality says... why indeed buy any "electronic" lock? A lock is only as good as the door and framing around it and history has shown that even strongest castles could be taken by a determined foe. Oh, and windows are a big weakness. So we take some precautions and do what we can as total, unbreakable security is a myth. Even sitting in one's house with a loaded shotgun 24/7 isn't a guarantee. Home Depot/Lowe's are my friends...

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: $700 versus $25

        Locks are only there to stop a casual thief, or a crime of convenience. If someone wants to break into (almost) any given building, typically there is literally nothing stopping them if they are determined enough.

        Properly trained dogs hanging about the place bring the cost up to the perpetrator, usually to the point where their perceived ROI is negative. And properly trained dogs aren't illegal in places like Blighty, either. Yet.

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: $700 versus $25

        "Oh, and windows are a big weakness."

        Usually, if you're in a neighborhood where the windows get targeted, the windows get burglar bars installed.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: $700 versus $25

          the windows get burglar bars installed.

          So you count on the burglar to get sloshed, forgetting his original intention?

        2. grumpy-old-person

          Re: $700 versus $25

          Here in South Africa it is common practice to tear of burglar bars with what we call a "bobbejaan spanner" - I believe these are known as a "monkey wrench" in the US.

          Simply lock onto the round bar and twist it off.

          Burglar bars are simply to keep the insurance companies happy.

          (In Afrikaans bobbejaan is the word for baboon)

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: $700 versus $25

            You must have different burglar bars, then, because the ones I see are frequently mounted into something sturdier, such as (a) the studs above and below the window, or (b) into the reinforced concrete exterior wall. Both are much sturdier stuff, and the bars themselves are made of cut-resistant steel and mounted in four points. I don't think you'll get the bars off with a monkey wrench. Odds are, to get those kinds of burglar bars off, you're basically going to have to rip a hole in the wall and need something on the nature of a pickup truck to get enough force.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: $700 versus $25

              A 36" pipe wrench is all that's needed. Lots of leverage there, and the steel teeth of the wrench actually cut into the bars, producing a shear point. Can get into most (all?) standard burglar bars in a couple seconds. The noise made on separation is kinda high, though. The 48" model was easier, but a trifle less wieldy. (As tested at Alan Steel & Supply, Redwood City California in about 1990, to settle a bar bet.)

              If you want more tech & less brute force, battery powered hydraulic bolt cutters can be had for under $200 on the used market. Mine cuts #6 (0.75 inch) rebar in just under 8 seconds. About 50 cuts on a charge. The noise of separation is surprisingly low.

              If you have access to a firefighter's tool set, they have a tool similar to a Morgan knocker that can take out the bars in a couple seconds. Would be easy to make in a garage workshop, using common handyman's tools. Makes a hell of a racket.

              Burglar bars, like locks, are only there to stop a casual thief, or a crime of convenience. If someone wants to break into (almost) any given building, typically there is literally nothing stopping them if they are determined enough.

    2. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Club rooms

      For example hackerspaces have the problem that they want multiple people to get in and they want to be able to grant and revoke access easily. An electric lock would be ideal for them...

      ...however this consumer oriented product surely wouldn't do as it probably relies on external services/software to set it up.

      Hackerspaces usually have their own version of this, made from the mechanical guts of commercial solutions with some self-made electronics.

    3. firesurfer@protonmail.com

      Re: $700 versus $25

      Ignore everything else, security, coolness whatever. The real reason is that some people hate carrying anything in their pockets. Really. They don't want to carry wallets, keys, coins, any kind of paper or plastic money. Literally nothing at all, ... except for their phone. Even that, if it were possible to have their phone embedded in their spine. I know people like that.

  7. Winkypop Silver badge
    FAIL

    Sometimes

    The Internet is not required.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Sometimes

      "The Internet is not required."

      …. or a power source.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Sometimes

        To be fair, turning the key requires power.

  8. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

    I'm disappointed

    The idea of a biometric door lock is very sound (you can't forget your keys, and things like going for a run are much simpler without keys anyway), and to be able to give visitors "a key" which they can't lose/forget to return is quite nifty. This is why they exist: Home Depot lists 15 varieties, for example.

    I'm also keen on the idea of a "smart" door lock that would, for example, allow one to permit the dog walker to come in (using their fingerprint) only on weekdays during normal dog-walking hours (M-F, 10am-2pm, or whatever)... and (incidentally) not compromise security the way handing them a key would.

    Finally, the idea of being able to "remotely authorize" a new user is great: guest arrives, scans their finger, calls me to let me know that they're done all that, and I tell the door to open up *and* remember them going forward/for the next week.

    So that makes a "connected" door lock a perfectly useful device.

    BUT: I'd want a "manual override" aka keyhole-and-key as well. And $700 seems very steep, as the run-of-the-mill biometric locks (with keyhole-and-key, note) cost less than $300 and your basic IoT gubbins (aka a Rasberry Pi Zero W with stuff) might cost $30 (if you get fancy). So that looks like this thing is twice as costly as it's worth!

    (Also, see https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/smartphone-connected-door-lock/)

    1. notowenwilson

      Re: I'm disappointed

      The other $370 covers the industrial design to make it look awesome. And beanbags for the programming team's office.

    2. Andre Carneiro

      Re: I'm disappointed

      Yes, for a Techie publication, this place does seem to have a disproportionate share of luddites.

      Yes, I take on board that this one may be an over-hyped, uber-expensive piece of junk (then again, who knows, maybe it's actually really quite well manufactured and engineered! who here has seen the specs?). Yes, I understand that there may be security issues, as with any connected device.

      But yes, there is a significant convenience factor to allowing and disallowing access to people at your whim. Once you've given someone a set of keys you've given them full access and the only way to revoke it is to replace the lock and deny access to everyone else until they get a new set of "credentials".

      You wouldn't have a computer system with a single Sysadmin password; would give different people different levels of access that can be revoked whenever that is required. What's so wrong in principle with doing the same for access to your front door?

      1. Credas Silver badge

        Re: I'm disappointed

        What's so wrong in principle with doing the same for access to your front door?

        Apart from a massive increase in cost, a whole raft of new vulnerabilities, the likelihood that it'll be obsolete/unsupported within a couple of years and need replacement, and it needs a manual override anyway to cope with loss of electrical power - and all for a few edge cases that are minor conveniences at best?

        1. Andre Carneiro

          Re: I'm disappointed

          Those are practicalities and execution, not the principle of the technology.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: I'm disappointed

          "the likelihood that it'll be obsolete/unsupported within a couple of years and need replacement,"

          And even if, against all odds, it is still supported in a few years, the lead free solder will have started to fail and grow whiskers anyway.

      2. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: I'm disappointed

        "But yes, there is a significant convenience factor to allowing and disallowing access to people at your whim. Once you've given someone a set of keys you've given them full access and the only way to revoke it is to replace the lock and deny access to everyone else until they get a new set of "credentials"."

        This is true. But you give people unattended access to your house very rarely. These sorts of things are useful in hotels, but if I saw one on a residential property then I would assume the owner is (illegally) using it as an AirBnB place. And replacing the lock is cheap compared with the cost of this, so you can afford to do that several times.

        This isn't a Luddite problem. Maybe we see that the technology isn't there yet for this type of thing, and there are far too many security issues with this hardware/software for it to be worth it. IoT in general is a technology looking for problems to solve, and then making them up when they cannot find them.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: I'm disappointed

          "This is true. But you give people unattended access to your house very rarely. These sorts of things are useful in hotels, but if I saw one on a residential property then I would assume the owner is (illegally) using it as an AirBnB place. And replacing the lock is cheap compared with the cost of this, so you can afford to do that several times."

          Besides, companies like Kwikset already made locks you can easily re-key, meaning you can assign temporary keys that you set to when you leave and then change back when you return.

        2. Andre Carneiro

          Re: I'm disappointed

          I dare suggest it may not be THAT rare. There are significant numbers of people who have dog walkers or cleaners or whatever for whom limited (and, dare I say, logged!) access to you don’t door may be quite useful.

          Also, nobody is suggesting everybody should have a “smart” (I hate this term!) lock. All I’m saying is that the concept isn’t nearly as outrageous or useless as a Bluetooth-enabled toaster, for example...

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: I'm disappointed

            the concept isn’t nearly as outrageous or useless as a Bluetooth-enabled toaster

      3. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: I'm disappointed

        "You wouldn't have a computer system with a single Sysadmin password; would give different people different levels of access that can be revoked whenever that is required. What's so wrong in principle with doing the same for access to your front door?"

        Simple, there will ALWAYS be a single point of failure: the root user or other ultimate user you need as a last resort in case an account gets locked out with no other way to access it (say the only user who knew the credentials suddenly died).

      4. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: I'm disappointed

        regarding Luddites

        There are some but for others of us who are shall we say a bit longer in the tooth than some of these company CEO's are proudly sceptical of the use of technology for technology's sake.

        Like so many patents that were granted when the application was almost identical to something already in existance by got granted because the words 'on a Network' or 'using a computer' were added as if they were some secret sauce...

        I'm all for appropriate use is technology but not when everything seemingly has to require an always on internet connection AND you have the likes of Google hoovering up every little bit of data on us that they can, sometimes, it is better just to say...

        'Nope. The old way is better'.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "there is a significant convenience factor to allowing and disallowin"

        In my old office, in 2004, to open the door you had to key in your PIN and then use the fingerprint reader, nicely placed besides the door. It activated the electromagnetic lock. Entries were logged - just locally and not in the cloud.

        So, really nothing new, just very expensive. My house has too many windows and balconies to rely on a single lock. I trust my alarm system more.

      6. David Nash Silver badge

        Re: I'm disappointed

        Disproportionate share of luddites?

        Not Luddites, merely those who are familiar with technology, know the limitations and therefore are not dazzled by the hype of the latest shiny objects. Whereas the target market are those who want apparent convenience, or are enthusiastic about tech for tech's sake (or fashion's) but take it all at face value and don't know what questions to ask.

      7. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: I'm disappointed

        " for a Techie publication, this place does seem to have a disproportionate share of luddites."

        All it takes to be considered a "luddite" these days is to point out serious flaws in the tech? Really?

        "there is a significant convenience factor to allowing and disallowing access to people at your whim."

        Sure, there are such use cases (although they're not exactly common). But there are existing solutions that are not only well-established, but also don't rely on a third-party provider and are not insanely overpriced.

      8. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: I'm disappointed

        "Yes, for a Techie publication, this place does seem to have a disproportionate share of luddites."

        Nah, just experienced (and jaded!) techies who can see through the bullshit and recognise a tin of baked beans in a shiny gold plated tin doesn't make them into magic beans.

        There are already access systems and thumbprint readers so this new $700 lock is not new and it's anything but cheap. I'd bet an existing company making access systems now could knock out a consumer grade one for well under half the price and likely be more secure and still make a good profit at it. The fact they don't means there's probably not enough of a market.

        1. Down not across

          Re: I'm disappointed

          There are already access systems and thumbprint readers so this new $700 lock is not new and it's anything but cheap. I'd bet an existing company making access systems now could knock out a consumer grade one for well under half the price and likely be more secure and still make a good profit at it. The fact they don't means there's probably not enough of a market.

          Like Yale Doorman (about 350 euros or so). Or perhaps ILOQ PRIVUS. There are products (and IMHO better ones if you need the flexibility of controlling access without changing the locks) than some IoT junk.

      9. grumpy-old-person

        Re: I'm disappointed

        I'm not a luddite - I just abhor useless application of useful technology

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm disappointed

      Or you could for example, buy the Master Lock Smart Keybox.

      Does exactly everything you've described but you'd fix it somewhere secure in the garden and stick the mechanical house key inside it.

      Two layer authentication if you like!

      I've got one of those boxes and I use it for everything from the cleaner to workmen. True, the key needs to be returned but I can at least find out who failed to return it by checking the log.

    4. Andy 68

      Re: I'm disappointed

      > The idea of a biometric door lock is very sound

      No, no it's not.

      In your examples, you are storing the dog-walker et.al's biometric information.

      Why should they give you access to their phone, their own house (if they too have one of these locks)?

      How are you storing that information? What if you get hacked?

      It's not a good idea. I suspect it will be repeated on here many many times : Biometric data is not authentication, it's identification.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hhmm... that reminds of a story about Apple and the trick they pulled on a saphire glass manufacturer a few years ago. The glass manufacturer went broke shortly after being approached with an offer from Apple.

    1. cray74 Silver badge

      Hhmm... that reminds of a story about Apple and the trick they pulled on a saphire glass manufacturer a few years ago. The glass manufacturer went broke shortly after being approached with an offer from Apple.

      Sort of?

      There were outstanding industrial and technical mistakes on the part of GT Advanced Technologies regardless of Apple's contractual shenanigans. To begin with, GTAT's past was a manufacturer of the furnaces used by other companies to grow artificial sapphire - GTAT didn't itself manufacture sapphire and yet suddenly tried to do so on an epic scale. It failed repeatedly to produce good sapphire boules for reasons ranging from a new, unproven furnace design (a dramatic scale-up from 100kg boules to 262kg boules) to impure feedstock, to poor temperature control, to poor power supplies, to operator fatigue and inexperience. Every furnace run took about a month and there was no in-process monitoring for the defects that could ruin an entire boule.

      When GTA needed more money to overcome those problems, Apple said "No." GTA was then caught by a contract that said Apple wasn't obligated to give it any money, and terms that prevented GTA from selling sapphire to other customers. So, GTA went bankrupt. Apple then liquidated GTA's assets to recover its losses, turning the sapphire factory into a server farm and selling off** most of GTA's shiny, barely-used furnaces.

      Anyway...Otto's situation is similar in that it was dependent on an outsider buyer who imposed competitive restrictions without legal commitment for funding. However, if I haven't misread the background, Otto wasn't hindered by crushing technical problems to the extent that GTAT was. Otto's not-so-angelic investor was thus actually more of a jerk than Apple.

      (**The fire sale of GTA's furnaces and personnel has been a boon for one of my suppliers, who transformed overnight into a sole-source, vertical monopoly for sapphire windows. This news produced much screaming and gnashing of teeth from my procurement department.)

  10. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    FAIL

    It doesn't even make juice?

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Happy

      It doesn't even make juice?

      Quite the opposite- you need the door open so you can jam the 'juiceable' packet into it and close to squeeze out the 'goodness'. This is purely to stop you rotting your teeth on 'juice'.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Curses! I had that joke all queued up, ready to type...

  11. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    WTF?

    Might be true. Large US Corps do have a history of sh**ty behavior to startups/lone inventors

    Starting with AG Bells "amended" telephone patent, going onto the classic of Ford Moter Corp and the inventor of a successful intermittent windscreen wiper design

    And so on to the present.

    But personally it sounds like mendacious BS and the investors should sue (unless they are in on it as some kind of tax/money laundering scam).

    I think all IoT want to be Apple. IE an apex predator whose adept at separating the clueless from large amounts of their cash. Sorry folks. But your "perceived value" is simply not that great.

    1. Credas Silver badge

      Re: Might be true. Large US Corps do have a history of sh**ty behavior to startups/lone inventors

      Possibly it was shitty behaviour by a potential buyer. But what kind of idiot company would stake its entire future on acquisition talks going through, and immediately run out of cash when they didn't?

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Might be true. Large US Corps do have a history of sh**ty behavior to startups/lone inventors

        Or if a firm comes to you saying "we'll buy you but only if you dont obtain more funding in the meantime", doesnt insert there own requirement, that if sale doesnt occur, thew would-be-buying firm will pay $X million dollars as compensation.

        It seems someone smelt a giant bonus but switched off their brain in the meantime...

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Might be true. Large US Corps do have a history of sh**ty behavior to startups/lone inventors

        "what kind of idiot company would stake its entire future on acquisition talks going through"

        A company that was already on death's doorstep.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is great news, I now have one less competitor for my patented glory hole cock lock mechanism. It took me a while to get it right as it was hard.

    1. tim 13

      What happens when it isn't hard?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I have a backup system on a floppy.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Coat

        Re: Prior art

        This is fairly grossly inappropriate.

        Which is what I thought after I'd stopped laughing.

        But for others it's more like a business opportunity.

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Go

      "my patented glory hole cock lock mechanism. I"

      But does it need a cloud connection?

      Enquiring minds.....

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So ignoring the fact you need an internet connection....

    ....what happens when the battery runs out?

    1. Andre Carneiro

      Re: So ignoring the fact you need an internet connection....

      You'd think there would be a physical key mechanism to override it? Not beyond the wit of man to solve that particular problem...

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: So ignoring the fact you need an internet connection....

        "Not beyond the wit of man to solve that particular problem..."

        This may be true. However, we don't have the wit of man in general, but the wit of these people in particular. And it may be beyond theirs.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So ignoring the fact you need an internet connection....

      well, if you stick your cock in the lock, it stays stuck innit. In the olden days, you'd have called the fire brigade (phone inside, eh?) but these days, when you need an emergency (very sick, house broken into, cock stuck in the wrong hole), the general advice from the tax-funded national services is that, when in emergenccy - DIY!

      ...

      oh, well, the abovementioned advice should be read in combination with the post above yours...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So ignoring the fact you need an internet connection....

      ...what happens when the battery runs out?

      I've seen the odd example of this sort of lock where it has touch points on the casing for a 9V battery (small top terminal type) to be placed to provide temporary power in an emergency.

  14. Eclectic Man
    Facepalm

    What if ...

    ... there is a power failure, or your hand is damaged? Then you would need a mechanical buck up system to allow you to use your door. Maybe there is a future in mechanical door locks after all.

    (Just like the guy who saw a picture of a stair-case in a history book and patented the idea when all the intelligent lifts went on strike a few centuries hence.

    Courtesy of a copy of the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which fell through a wormhole in the space-time continuum into my timeline a few decades ago.)

    But seriously, when will people realise that biometric identification devices must have non-biometric work-arounds because people get injured and still need whatever the device was providing access to, even though the particular bit of them that gets measured for identification is damaged?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: What if ...

      The thing probably runs on easily-replaceable batteries. And if the world runs out of AA batteries, then you have bigger problems.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: What if ...

        "The thing probably runs on easily-replaceable batteries."

        So there you are, standing on your doorstep with a large economy pack of batteries in your hand swearing at your door that's locked and the battery box is on the inside.

    2. llaryllama

      Re: What if ...

      The electronic Samsung locks I own have a physical key backup and an external 9v battery terminal in case the regular batteries died.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: What if ...

        and an external 9v battery terminal in case the regular batteries died.

        And what happens if you apply 240v to that 9v terminal?

  15. Charles 9 Silver badge

    I'm still waiting for a solution that can be used by a loner with a bad memory and a tendency to lose things.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Have you considered a rockery? It could occupy your lonely days and cost less than $700, even with some exotic planting. Plenty of places to hide a key and if you can't find it again, you have everything necessary to effect entry via a broken window.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        And if I live in a flat/apartment, meaning there's no place for a rock garden? Not to mention the windows have the aforementioned burglar bars?

        1. a pressbutton

          If you cannot provide a rockery, then I fart in your general direction.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Warm Braw

        Have you considered a rockery?

        I was looking for a shrubbery.

  16. llaryllama

    Samsung already dunnit

    The idea of a smart home lock is not dumb at all. Problem is a number of companies already have working, mature, secure designs. I bought Samsung locks direct from Korea for about $250 each a few years ago and they work great. Very handy to be able to give family or friends a temporary pin and don't need to worry about forgetting my keys. They even look just as good as this $700 thing.

    I specifically purchased models without internet access although that's available too if you really want it.

  17. cosymart
    Holmes

    Cat Flap

    If you can get a cat flap that only lets in your own moggy due to the microchip in the moggy. The solution to all this is to microchip the entire population and fit all doors with a programmable reader. Solve lots of access problems overnight.

    1. EnviableOne Bronze badge

      Re: Cat Flap

      All the good ideas are already taken (saw this on Click)

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/technology-31037989/chip-and-skin-the-office-that-microchips-its-staff

      1. cosymart
        Childcatcher

        Re: Cat Flap

        Looks painful if Rory Cellan-Jones is anything to go by :-(

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Re: Cat Flap

      "The solution to all this is to microchip the entire population "

      Piss off Theresa!

  18. Cheesemouse

    Magic Leap

    Use this lock in their office. I've seen it on The You Tube

    1. AdamWill

      Re: Magic Leap

      Well, *that* seems magnificently appropriate.

  19. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    The unnamed company

    Possibly the unnamed company will release their version of the product soon - looks to me like Otto got taken for a ride by a VC.

    As far as the lock goes - rich people love gadgets so why not sell them to them?

  20. Techknow

    IoT

    Having been both a hardware and software developer in the past, I have been watching the IoT arena from the sidelines. I also have my fingers in a lot of pies, both connected and unconnected. I have diverse interests and read extensively. I am no Ludite. I consider the IoT to be a classic example of ' just because we can, doesn't mean we should ' Given the ' security environment ' we have seen unfold over the last few years, the IoT is largely ( not entirely - just 99% ) unnecessary and is a mistake that will end up biting us in the assume - big time. People need to wake up.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: IoT

      You overestimate the intelligence of the Stupid User. They won't pay attention until people start DYING (like with airbags and seat belts).

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ...or to quote another Register reader on another article....

    The hack to use is.....

    Open the letter box and shout "Alexa, please open the front door."

    Isn't technology just truly awesome!!

  22. Arachnoid

    Its Amazing

    How people think because its an electronic lock its somehow more secure then a mechanical device

  23. Brian Allan 1

    "It's a shame, because to hear Jadallah tell it, Otto somehow made opening the front door a life-altering experience."

    Another con artist project! $700 for a door lock!? About the same as $700 toilet seats for the navy? And a toilet seat is probably more practical!

  24. Elsmarc

    When I bought this house in 1996 I traveled a lot. I found a keypad lock at HomeDepot so a friend could check the house and bring in mail once a week. Ten years ago I had all new windows and doors put in and Schlage Model BE365 keypad locks put in. Should a battery run out in say the front door, there's the back door. Sufficient for my needs and not connected to the internet. I haven't carried a house key since 1996.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      So what happens when (not if) the batteries run out in BOTH doors at the same time?

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