Money

Toronto team makes the padlock smarter with TappLock

By Adam Swimmer, Postmedia Network

TappLock and TappLock Lite. (Supplied)

TappLock and TappLock Lite. (Supplied)

David Tao has had a lot of problems with padlocks over the years.

“I swim a lot,” the CEO of Toronto company Pishon Lab said in an interview. “When I got out of (the pool), I've had to fumble around with the lock and ... a lot of the time I've forgot my (combination).”

His locker at the pool had also been picked a couple of times.

“I checked on YouTube and it takes only 20 minutes to shimmy a conventional padlock.”

Tao was looking for a simpler, yet more secure, solution for locking up his belongings. The result is TappLock. There is no dial to shimmy open or keyhole to pick. Instead, the TappLock uses a fingerprint sensor, much like you'd find on an iPhone or some laptops, to unlock the device. It can also be unlocked via a smartphone app.

While not yet a commercially-available product, Pishon Lab is in the final few days of its Indiegogo campaign and has already blown away its US$40,000 fundraising goal as it currently sits at more than $165,000.

Pishon Labs offers both a standard edition of the TappLock, which looks like a regular padlock with the small, square fingerprint sensor in place of a dial, a smaller TappLock Lite for travelling.

Tao said the device takes only 0.8 seconds to unlock. It can store 256 fingerprints and, through the app, you can assign temporary access to someone for a set period of time. You can also schedule weekly access, if say, your buddy borrows your TappLock every Tuesday between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

In addition, the TappLock doubles as a portable phone charger in case your phone dies when you're out and about. The lock comes with its own charger, but if you're not using it to charge your phone, the battery should last three years on its own.

The lock features a built-in alarm, much like a car alarm, in case someone tries to break into it. But Tao said the fingerprint sensor would require military-level expertise to hack. And the sensor must register the current flowing through your finger to unlock, so someone can't cut off your finger and use to break into the TappLock. That is, if someone was hell-bent on stealing your dirty gym socks.

You can pre-order the TappLock from the Indiegogo page at the early-bird price of $39 plus shipping, and the standard lock for $49 plus shipping. Mass production of the locks will begin in China in March and will ship in the fall.