Russian Lock Company Provides Phone-based Home Access

Guardian's system employs NFC and BLE technologies to enable home owners to unlock their doors without the use of a physical key, simply by coming within range of a door or tapping a phone near a lock.
Published: January 23, 2019

Russian door-locking technology company Guardian has launched a new door lock called ESMART Cyber, which employes wireless technology from ISBC Group to allow home owners to use a mobile phone to access their residence. The solution employs Near Field Communication (NFC) and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technologies to provide two options for triggering the opening of a lock, utilizing a mobile phone and an app downloaded to that phone, or a contactless key fob. The smartphone identification system comes with encryption to protect it from interception by air, cloning or hacking, according to Dmitriy Kornienko, ISBC Group’s CMO.

Guardian first considered the technology for a new keyless-entry product several years ago, says Alexey Gvozdev, the firm’s marketing director. “Every year, electronic locks become more popular everywhere,” he explains, and the company chose to develop a solution, leveraging that trend, that would make it easier for consumers to access their homes, while also reducing the risk of forced entry with a fake or stolen key. “For the convenience and safety of our customers,” he states, “we decided to produce the Electromechanical Lock Guardian series” of ESMART cyber door locks.

The wireless ESMART Cyber system enables home owners to access their residence via a mobile phone.

Guardian worked with ISBC Group last year to begin developing a solution that would enable individuals to access their homes without a physical key. By providing a unique digital key that opens the lock, which is stored on a person’s cell phone, the system gives residents the freedom to simply tap their phone near the lock, or (in the case of BLE technology) simply come within transmission range of the lock, thereby triggering its release. Additionally, the ESMART reader could be installed visibly or built into the door itself.

Dmitriy Kornienko

Each ESMART reader comes with a BLE beacon chip and an NFC reader that transmits data at 13.56 MHz and complies with the ISO 14443 standard, Kornienko says. It also includes the physical locking mechanism for a door. “Installing the cyber lock and ESMART reader doesn’t require special skills and knowledge,” Gvozdev notes. Users with a basic understanding of electronics, he adds, can follow the written instructions.

Users can download an app to set up the unique ID number that will unlock their device. The ESMARTaccess mobile app is available here for iOS devices, or here for Android devices. The content-management software is provided by a third party, Kornienko explains. The product also comes with a key fob with a built-in RFID tag and BLE beacon.

To enable the key fob’s use, Kornienko says, an individual must program the lock to accept the unique ID encoded to that fob by pressing a button inside the device. When the button is pressed, the device uses the NFC transmission to identify the fob and program its unique ID into the system. Alternatively, a person can use the mobile app to set up the key fob for use with that cyber lock, utilizing AES encryption. The lock can accommodate a mechanical key as well.

To employ the system, an individual first taps his or her phone near the front door. The reader captures the unique ID number, with cryptographic protection for security, via either NFC or BLE, then confirms that the ID is authorized to open that lock. If so, it releases its locking mechanism and the individual may then enter. To lock the door again, users can utilize the app or a mechanical key.

The system gives residents the freedom to tap their phone near the lock, triggering its release.

The system is intended to make home access not only more convenient, but safer. “RFID locks increase the security of your home,” Kornienko states. “Thieves already have well-studied all types of mechanical locks,” but have little experience with RFID. The encryption in the ESMART system is intended to protect users from hackers who might try to access RFID transmissions or clone access codes. In addition to AES data encryption, he says, key diversification and the CMAC signature protect the unique ID—which serves as the user’s key—from replay attacks.

Alexey Gvozdev

The device has been commercially available since late 2018. “Every day, the number of orders is growing,” Gvozdev reports. “People like the convenience and safety of this model.” While there are other cyber locks available in Europe that employ BLE and NFC technologies, he notes, the ESMART Cyber lock offers unique features. For instance, it has a heating function to keep the mechanism warm enough to operate during Russian winters. The battery-powered locking device automatically begins warming itself if the temperature drops below 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit). The device is also water-resistant and works when immersed in water or frozen in ice.

Guardian is among the three largest manufacturers of mechanical locks in Russia and the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Gvozdev says. Its products are sold through its dealer network in Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia and Russia, and the firm is currently in discussions with partners in Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia as well.