R&D key to success for Ionic

David Jennings, CEO of UAP, explains the drivers behind the launch of a new ultra-secure electronic lock and how a focus on the customer experience has shaped its development.

Smart technology is rapidly filtering through all our lives, with people of all ages turning to smart home devices, a trend largely driven by the pandemic which forced everyone to actively engage with online tools.

This shift in consumer behaviour has accelerated demand for smart door locks with consumers now faced with a variety of options. UAP, like many other manufacturers, has stepped into the smart market – but our journey began five years ago.

What followed was extensive research, planning and testing aimed at developing a concept unlike any others.

Avoiding risks

We began by researching customers priorities and how to provide the best possible experience. From the outset, we disregarded biometrics such as fingerprint readers as they could cause a host of problems.

Say for example, a homeowner was carrying a bag of shopping on a cold and rainy day. Having to put the bags down at their door, remove the gloves and get a fingerprint reader to work spells hassle.

There is also a risk of the reader not recognising the print or the technology shutting down if it gets too hot.

The other major concern was security. You only need to do a Google search to see that hackers can steal digital fingerprints and other biometric data. And once your biometric data is stolen then you can’t simply change it – it is lost forever and that means your security is also jeopardised for the long term.

Prioritising needs

We then sought to find out what features would matter the most to customers. We learned that security, ease of use, speed, reliability and flexibility were all essential.

People want to be able to shut their door and for it to automatically lock, without having to lift a lever and turn a key. They want a choice of tools for locking, and the process needs to be audible, so it is clear the door is secure. At the same time we learned that in some instances, the consumer may want to reduce or extend the time it takes the door to lock, if for example, they had forgotten something in the house.

If the door lock is operated using a smartphone app, that needs to be simple too. And the app must offer the flexibility demanded by customers such as enabling friends or family to operate the lock.

Regarding security, we recognised that some people were worried about keyless car theft and shared similar concerns about an electronic door lock. To address this, we needed to develop technology that would make the key fobs ultra-secure.

Meeting consumer demand

Armed with our research and a clear picture of how we could improve the customer experience, we spent five years developing the Ionic. It is the first in a series of ‘smart’ products set to be launched under UAP’s Fullex Ai brand.

Simple to install and easy to use, the Ionic can be operated using a smartphone app, a fob, push button on the inside, or a thumb turn. When a consumer gets to the door, they simply press the handle down and walk in.

The time it takes for the lock to activate can be adjusted to suit. The app can be used to set up new users and time settings, allowing one off access for tradespeople or regular access for cleaners or carers for example.

Security is enhanced through face recognition, which builds additional authentication into the app. The fobs have been manufactured in a way that prevents them from being cloned and the lock itself holds no data with the user’s own phone controlling the system rather than a server.

To make the Ionic as reliable as possible, we based it on the Fullex Crimebeater lock which has a proven track record. The electronics have been developed by a specialist manufacturer in Europe and every printed circuit board is tested multiple times before being shipped to the UK for assembly.

The research and insights we have gained on the customer experience have enabled us to develop a unique, patented design, one that we believe could become a standard for all electronic multipoint locks.