One of the most interesting aspects of the locksmith business is the unspoken competition with lock manufacturers. Ever since Alfred Hobbs picked open seemingly secure locks of the day in the 1850s, lock manufacturers have gone back to the drawing board and invented even better mechanisms whenever existing designs have been found to be easily bypassed.
During the 20th century the biggest change in locking systems was the disappearance of lever locks and the dominance of pin tumbler locks. This change occurred for two reasons. First, pin tumbler locks can be made more secure than lever locks, especially with the advent of high security cylinders and their added key control benefits. Second, lever locks use bit keys or flat keys which are not comfortable to carry.
After the passing of the first decade in the 21st century, products offered in the security field clearly indicate a movement towards electronics. The International Security Conference (ISC) was just staged April 10-12 in Las Vegas. With one or two exceptions, every one of the 1000+ exhibits at ISC featured electronic security in some form.
HID, a major manufacturer of access control card credentials, provided an important presentation during ISC. The HID representative reported that the public is depending more and more on cell phones, not only for communication but also for all the secondary options a cell phone can provide. A majority of the public will soon have cell phones with 'smart' technology. HID realizes that it is easier for someone to carry one credential (a smart cell phone) instead of also having to carry additional access control credentials.
According to the HID presentation, a cell phone SIM card will become the new repository for holding secured access control information. The smart cell phone will then be the 21st century equivalent of metal pin tumbler keys in the 20th century. During their presentation, HID also mentioned the name "Phablets". This single device will contain a mixture of tablet and cell phone options. Perhaps a soldering iron and ohmmeter will some day have a prominent position in every locksmith toolbox.
Today's smart phones wirelessly communicate with specially equipped locksets. This new credential may someday supplant the venerable metal key.
About 15 years ago during a meeting with the legendary A.J. Hoffman, the future of keys and mechanical lock cylinders was discussed. A.J. firmly believed that the wide usage of metal keys and...