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How to Leverage IoT to Enhance Security and Improve User Experience

Oct 10, 2019 7:00:33 PM


At this week's RIoT Durham Lunch & Learn, one Smashing Boxes engineer shared how to leverage IoT to enhance security and simplify the user experience. 

Rapid innovation and adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) over the last 10 years has fixed problems we didn’t know existed. From home thermostats and wearable fitness trackers to improvements in advanced manufacturing and logistics, IoT is helping reshape the way we interact with the world.

The beauty of leveraging IoT is in its simplicity. Let's take security and access, for example. 

Security and Access are critical issues when it comes to securing environments, such as coworking and shared office spaces, manufacturing environments, hotels, and even museums. Current access solutions rely on keycards swiped at entry/exit points while static QR codes are scanned at various security checkpoints. These methods aren't very secure. Keycards are often lost, forgotten, and even shared among users. And QR codes can be copied and scanned from anywhere.

When was the last time you found yourself locked out of your office because you forgot your keycard?

Chances are, you don’t have to think about this too hard. Here at Smashing Boxes, we are certainly no stranger to this. When a phone upgrade all but eliminated the need to carry a wallet for engineer Grady Knight, he found himself without his keycard, locked outside of the Smashing Boxes office. DoorBot, a homegrown IoT innovation, saved the day by alerting team members to answer the door. 

Once a Smashing Labs project, DoorBot is a reprogrammed Amazon Dash Button encased it in a 3D-printed enclosure, adapted to work as an IoT button. It's a smarter doorbell that isn’t disruptive, sends notifications to specific subscribers, and didn’t have to be hardwired into the electrical system. When implemented at the Smashing Boxes Durham office, where the working area and doors are spread out, this was the perfect solution. That is until the continuous notifications in the DoorBot Slack channel (along with having to get up to answer the door), disrupted employee workflow, and led people to mute channel notifications. 

The frequent DoorBot disruption combined with his background using IoT connected devices to solve business challenges prompted Grady to explore the following idea: How we can leverage IoT to not only enhance security but deliver an improved user experience?

The solution he came up with: leverage IoT to make a simple modification to commercially available locks. We hope to use this device to enhance or replace traditional monitoring systems with an integrated design system based on the following:

  • Infrastructure: OAuth / AWS Lambda / DynamoDB
  • Mobile: React Native
  • IoT Device: Node / Raspberry Pi / Camera

How the Lock Functions

  1. A user logs in to a secure service using a mobile app. Upon login, the app receives a one-time key.
  2. This key is rendered into a QR code and displayed.
  3. A camera attached to a RaspberryPi decodes the QR code and communicates with the secure service.
  4. If the service informs the Pi that the code is valid, the Pi unlocks the door. 

In addition to granting building access, the device can track the entry and exit times of individuals, combining the required hardware for building access and timecard management, and presenting the potential to fully integrate the two processes and reduce overhead costs. This system could be easily applied in manufacturing and more secure environments requiring position tracking as well.

Want to see the smart lock in action?

Join Smashing Boxes and 50+ other exhibitors presenting their latest technology at RIoT’s IoT Demo Night on Monday, October 14, 5:30 - 8:30 PM at the Raleigh Convention Center.


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Topics: IoT, connected devices, RIoT

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