TouchKey: The future of keyless home entry

Helen Downer
Helen Downer

Glass Times sits down with Helen Downer, president of Tyman UK & Ireland (ERA’s parent company), to discuss the launch of ERA’s new door security solution, TouchKey.

GT: How does TouchKey differ from competitor smart lock systems?

Helen Downer (HD): TouchKey represents one of ERA’s most significant product launches to date. That’s a pretty big statement to make when we’ve been manufacturing industry-leading home security solutions for over 180 years, but TouchKey is revolutionary in its approach to keyless home entry.

The only system of its kind, TouchKey provides multi-factor authentication for residential door access, combining five different entry methods into a single door handle.

Suitable for fabrication with composite and timber entrance doors, its entry methods include fingerprint access, a smart home app, Bluetooth geolocation technology, voice-activated entry, and manual key override.

Featuring advanced 3D fingerprint technology, up to 50 different fingerprints can be stored directly within the handle to provide users with instant access to the property.

Using the ERA smart home app, which is compatible with both Apple iOS and Android, TouchKey can be unlocked with a single touch locally, or remotely via the ERA smart hub. Digital e-keys that have timed access can also be assigned to individuals, such as family and friends, via the app.

Voice command can also be used via the app to unlock the door on approach, without having to physically use a smartphone. Similarly, by utilising geolocation technology, the system remotely unlocks via Bluetooth, with a trusted digital e-key granting access to the individual once they are within range of the property, without needing to physically use their smartphone.

Ensuring the highest standards of security and functionality was our leading consideration when designing TouchKey. As with any smart technology system, we also understood the importance of achieving industry leading standards of certification and accreditation.

That’s why TouchKey has been independently tested to BSI’s new Smart Residential Locking Device standard, which combines the BSI Internet of Things (IoT) Kitemark with TS 621 for mechanical security with smart locking.

As the first to market with the new Kitemark, we believe that it sets the standard for how smart locking devices should be viewed and assessed. This provides reassurance to our customers (and their customers) that TouchKey has been independently certified and can be easily identified as a trustworthy smarter product for any home.

GT: Does it offer a mechanical back up if the electronic systems fail?

HD: When we were designing TouchKey, we wanted to create a complete door security solution that not only utilised the latest advancements in dynamic smart technology, but also contained the same industry leading standards of mechanical hardware that ERA is renowned for.

That’s why we have engineered a complete new door package, which combines a smarter security door handle with an auto-firing multi-point lock, and an anti-bump security cylinder; working together to provide maximum resistance against forced entry.

Individuals can leave their property with the single turn of the extended thumbturn, which has been ergonomically designed with light torque to retract all locking points for ease of egress. The door automatically locks securely behind the individual once closed, firing all six locking points. For that all-important peace of mind, TouchKey also contains a hidden manual key override.

Powered by batteries, the smarter handle features a forged steel backplate and hardened plates that prevent any potential attackers from removing the handle to access the lock within.

When the batteries are running low, the user receives timely audible and visual indicators from the handle, in addition to push notifications via the ERA Smart Home app, when it is used to unlock the door. For security reasons, if the handle enters fail-safe mode, it will be locked in the closed position until a verified entry method is used.

This protects against power failure when the individual is away from the door for an extended period (for example when they are on holiday). In this instance, the homeowner can use the manual key override to unlock the door.

Every aspect of TouchKey has been designed to provide both fabricators and their customers with the ultimate standards of security, convenience and endurance.

That said, the TouchKey handle also delivers on aesthetics. Featuring a sleek, contemporary design, TouchKey is available in Fab&Fix’s patented Hardex Chrome and Hardex Graphite finishes, complementing over 200 products within the Fab&Fix range, including hinges, letterplates and knockers.

GT: Does it suite with ERA’s existing smart home products?

HD: Whilst TouchKey can be used as a stand-alone entrance door package, it can also be integrated with the wider ERA Protect smart ecosystem to provide complete integrated home security.

This provides door manufacturers with an opportunity to cross-sell our complete suite of ERA smart products to provide homeowners with additional security. The ecosystem consists of our full smart alarm system, which includes a smart hub, sensors and siren, indoor, outdoor and floodlight cameras, a video doorbell and Window Sense, an integrated window sensor.

TouchKey’s compatibility with ERA Protect enables homeowners to expand the security of their property by investing in new products as and when required, whilst having the confidence that they are using smart security systems that have been accredited to the highest standard.

In 2019, we worked in close collaboration with BSI to create the BSI Kitemark certification for the Internet of Things (IoT). The Kitemark provides independent verification of the cybersecurity of camera and alarm systems, setting a performance benchmark for the growing smart security sector. The ERA Protect range was the first smart security system to carry the accreditation.

GT: How long did it take to develop?

HD: Our in-house team of engineering experts have been working on the development of TouchKey for a number of years. The speed of technological evolution for software and firmware meant that we developed several versions before arriving at the product you see today. Any product that secures a home must undergo comprehensive testing and real-world trials to ensure that it stands up to everyday use.

Battery life and new phone software releases were a challenge for us in the early stages of development, but this provided us with a series of essential learnings that enabled us to engineer and future-proof the TouchKey system we have launched.

As part of this process, we conducted research and feedback studies on the handle and its operation. The product was positively received, particularly its aesthetics and multi-operational methods of entry.

Initial feedback from our fabrication partners has been extremely positive. By combining mechanical hardware endurance with dynamic smart technology, our fabricators are now able to provide their customers with ultimate peace of mind that their entrance door is protected to the highest possible standard.

The ERA TouchKey provides them with a suite of options on how to enter their home, whilst simultaneously delivering on both functionality and aesthetics.

ERA Home Security Limited
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