Crypto Glossary

Blockchain-Enabled Smart Locks

Blockchain-enabled smart locks solve many security issues and can be locked or unlocked based on the state of a variable that is embedded in a smart contract.

What Are Blockchain-Enabled Smart Locks?

A smart lock is a connected device that can be controlled digitally from a device like a mobile phone. Consumer-grade smart locks have become increasingly popular in homes over the past few years, but they are vulnerable to potential cybersecurity issues. Blockchain-enabled smart locks solve many of these security issues and can be locked or unlocked based on the state of a variable that is embedded in a smart contractThe almost unlimited programmability, and the fact that you can easily link any kind of payment method (e.g. tokens or oracles) with the state of the lock, opens up incredible new business models that were previously impossible due to security concerns. 

Using a smart contract as the underlying logic layer to decide whether to lock or unlock adds versatility and security to the standard smart lock concept. The addresses could, for example, be tied to a digital identity, so it is possible to track who is ‘coming and going,’ enabling the creation of temporary or entry codes. For homes, this is useful for allowing guests or service people to enter a home if the homeowner is away. This also means new commercial applications in offices, hotels, or rentals. For example, you could program a lock to open as a result of "rent being paid," or have a high-security multisign lock that requires a certain number of different addresses to approve the state change.

Aside from the programmability, blockchain-enabled locks are much more secure than a traditional smart device, with the same digital benefits. The instructions to lock and unlock can be sent from any place on the globe, and with blockchain’s inherent security this means collaboration and joint signatures are possible without needing additional security infrastructure. 

There are a couple of downsides. A blockchain-enabled solution can, however, be vulnerable to a loss of connectivity as it relies on access to a decentralized network of nodes. And just like a mechanical lock, losing your private key could mean being locked out without any recovery mechanisms. On a public blockchain, there are also the potential issues of lack of privacy and processing time.

Despite these potential cons, a blockchain-enabled smart lock can make novel business cases possible with its programmability and native connection with the token world.

Author:

Johannes Schweifer is the CEO of CoreLedger, a company empowering businesses of all sizes to access the benefits of blockchain technology. Schweifer co-founded several blockchain start-ups, including Bitcoin Suisse. He’s a passionate problem-solver, holding a master’s degree in Chemistry and a PhD in distributed computing and quantum chemistry.

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