Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The BioLock: A Review.

**All opinions and views in this post are not representative of statistical data or general populous but are a reflection of the authors personal experience.**

We hadn't been in the market for a new deadbolt & lock set for the front door, in fact we were perfectly happy and content with our fully functioning, old school key using lock. So why did we buy a new, integrated knob/lock set?

Well. Good question. 

 Jesse often comes home with his hands full (tools, parts, etc) so the idea of a virtually hands free entry (instead of having to fumble with his keys) was an interesting plus. Neither of us is going to deny there weren't other factors, like the novelty, and the price,  but overall it was an impulse buy which is something we don't usually do when it comes to making house purchases. It's like my dad always says "If something looks too good to be true, it probably is."
Note, the coverplate for the key hole is not on in this picture.

My initial reaction to the BioLock, was less than positive. Purely on a design basis, I didn't like it. It was ugly, bulky, and honestly made me feel like I should be in a government building, private lab or even a spaceship, not trying to get in the front door. Not being one to judge a book by it's cover, I was willing to give it a try if it could make life a little easier Jesse. 

The Lock has two basic settings, locked and unlocked controlled by a sliding toggle on the inside of the door just above the handle. Red means it is locked, green means it is open. Simple. The lock mechanism and the handle mechanism of the BioLock are separate, unlike traditional turn-key entry. To engage the handle and open the door, push the button above the thumb pad, when the light turns blue, turn the handle. When locked, push the button above the thumb pad, wait for the pad to illuminate, scan your print, blue light open door, red light? Access denied!
left unlocked, right locked.

The BioLock comes with a 'hidden' key entry in the event that the Bio-Lock's internal power fails; alternatively you can 'jump start' the lock by touching a 9volt battery to two (2) internodes located on the underside of the thumb pad. At this point of the installation, I was thinking things were getting a little complicated just to get  in the door. I mean, don't get me wrong, I have a black hole of a purse but I don't routinely carry 9volt batteries around with me.  I was relieved that there was a tried and true 'emergency' method for this lock of the future, a key. 

The keyhole wasn't always misaligned, somewhere along the way, it seems to have..shifted.

After the install, and scanning everyone's fingerprints it was Time To Use The Door. We must have stood on the porch for half an hour playing with this thing, scanning our thumbs and waiting for the happy little beep-blue light to signal that hooray! we had unlocked the door and could now go inside and swap places with the next person to see if it really was working. 

All was well, things seemed to be working fine and installed correctly so we happily went on with our lives, eating, sleeping, working,  learning obliviously until The Moment Of Truth. Within 24 hours of installing the lock, we learned the first of many flaws. If your hands are dirty, wet, or have any sort of chemical residue on them, the thumb pad will not be able to scan your print successfully. Jesse routinely works with petroleum products, so even if his hands are clean, there will be residual particulate matter collected on and in the skin, especially in cracks or crevices, like on fingertips.


From day one it has been a problem and while it makes absolute sense that the laser or optics used in the scanner would be hindered from operating correctly when a substance is interfering (dirt, water, etc) or in between the digit and scan-surface, it clearly doesn't really jive given Jesse's career path.
plz scanz fingerz

After having the lock installed for less than two weeks, it spontaneously began rejecting other logged prints (you can have a large number of prints saved in the BioLock's internal memory, whether it be multiple prints from one individual, or multiple individuals) from friends and family members who in the past had keys to our door. In the end the BioLock paired down it's memory to just three prints. My thumbs and index finger. 

Being the only person to be able to 'unlock' the door is more than a little bit ridiculous. We even went to the trouble of re-scanning & saving people's prints and it still rejects them after the initial setup.

The BioLock has no temperature rating on the box, or in the installation instructions. Most electronics operate best in temperatures no colder than -10C and no hotter than 35C. Electronic devices intended for outdoor use usually get a rating of up to -25C (if they're decent). Unfortunately, where we live -25C is, well, expected during the winter months. With windchill it can easily dip down to -35C or even -40C. We have yet to have the problem of the batteries freezing or the lock losing power due to the cold, but it's been a mild winter this year. We have however had the problem of what I like to call the Poltergiest Bug.

It seems, when it gets colder (-20C or below), the door, even when locked will somehow fail. I cannot count the number of times I've gone downstairs to find the supposedly locked front door open. Wide open. Yeah, super secure BioLock. Good thing we don't live in a city. Seriously. On top of that, it is freaking cold outside and maybe it's just me, but I prefer to keep the warm air in the house.

In the interest of fairness and so this review isn't entirely negative, the one positive thing is that the incessant beeping that now accompanies coming and going has trained our dog to wait to hear the 'beep' before rushing at the door. Which is nice, because she doesn't run into the door or anyone who may be in front of it. But I am pretty sure Pavlov figured out the whole habitual behaviour related to aural cues a long time ago.

So, if you live in  perfectly temperate climate, don't handle any sort of substance that could leave residue on your fingertips (including newspapers), habitually carry nine volt batteries around with you, and secretly think that Star Trek should be the next interior design trend, then this is the lock for you. 

We on the other hand are in the market for a new deadbolt & lock set of the traditional type as there were just too many variables that were negative for us to justify the frustration of keeping the electronic lock installed.