Smart Home
Ola uses touch sensor, fingerprints to rock the smart lock

Smart locks have become one of the more popular components of the smart home product category. The one drawback of some of them is that they rely on the user accessing a smartphone app in order to open up a door, and that can sometimes take a while –- especially if the smartphone is buried at the bottom of somebody’s bag or, worse, the phone has been forgotten somewhere.

Ola is a smart lock that uses Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity and capacitive fingerprint technology that makes it not only a keyless solution, but also a phoneless one. It’s able to store up to 1,700 fingerprints and takes less than one second to open the door once the fingerprints are read by the touch sensor, according to its maker. Ola is powered by four AA batteries and doesn’t require a Wi-Fi connection, so it will continue to work even if the power goes out. It costs $179 as part of its Kickstarter campaign and will ship in March. Retail pricing hasn’t been set, but is expected to be about 30 percent higher, said its maker, who set a campaign goal of raising $125,000 by July 23.

Ola is bound to appeal to a wide audience. Although it doesn’t require a smartphone for users to open a door with the smart lock, there is an app for Android and iOS devices (and soon Windows) to facilitate registration for new users. The “masters” of the house can also use the app to give or deny access to guests or manually unlock the door via Bluetooth. The only minor drawback is that it’s water resistant, but not waterproof, so if it’s submerged in water for an extended period of time that would break the electronic components of the lock. Its maker also warns that it’s best to dry off one’s fingers before opening the lock because water can impact the sensor’s ability to recognize fingerprints.

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