Things have humming along on the software side at Lockitron HQ. While we’re still waiting for a pending iOS release to complete review with Apple, we just pushed out our new Android build in preparation for our mass firmware update. This Android build contains our new Bluetooth protocol and is expected to be our last update before a preview build with Sense is ready.
We’ve had a hiccup in unit production while waiting for additional electronic components to come in and have been holding at backer 9,000. A large quantity of circuit boards is currently in production and we expect them to be complete in 1-2 weeks. These circuit boards should take us through roughly backer 12,000 (into the September estimates), with a subsequent run of circuit boards following for September units.
While we stock a thousands of the difficult to source and expensive components for Lockitron (our WiFi and Bluetooth components for example), a few other parts now have longer lead times than we budgeted for based on lead times we’ve experience in the past.
Sense: Progress on iOS and Android
While we have been waiting on app store approval for our latest iOS build (which will solve numerous bugs and improve Bluetooth connectivity), we’ve forged ahead with work onSense. In a previous update we demonstrated Sense on an Android test app - since that time we’ve integrated Sense into test builds of both our Android and iOS apps.
Sense is predicated on our new, more robust Bluetooth implementation which is only currently running on internal test units. Once our iOS app is released (and firmware updated), we will quickly follow up with a beta build of Sense for Android. Releasing the iOS beta build will take a little longer as we’re still implementing some of the views (think of these as “pages” in the app) necessary to calibrate Sense with your phone.
Battery Emails and Better Power Management
The Lockitron web app has been updated behind the scenes with a number of bug fixes as well as other improvements. One important new feature is low battery notifications via email. While not quite perfect yet, this notification should give you a heads up when it’s time to replace you batteries. One of the tricky factors here was ensuring that we catch low battery conditions for Lithium or Alkaline batteries.
Tip: When replacing your batteries in Lockitron, always ensure to use a fresh set. Steer clear of rechargeable batteries which have trouble supplying sufficient current under high loads.
Dynamic Power Management
We’ve spent the last several months focused on ensuring that Lockitron’s Bluetooth experience is instantaneous and rock solid to ensure we pave the way for Sense. With much of this ground work in place we’ve taken some time to ensure better power management is on our roadmap.
One aspect of this will include a new power saving mode that you can enable for your Lockitron if you’re away for an extended period. You will still receive event driven information from Lockitron immediately - i.e. state changes, when an activity is carried out - however, the periodic wake interval will be extended, greatly extending battery life.
Additionally, we’ve begun work on waking Lockitron’s WiFi connectivity more adaptively based on when you are most likely to use Lockitron. This will help improve battery life as well as Lockitron’s responsiveness when you’re most likely to use it. We’ll keep you posted as we make progress!
This week we’ve queued to backer 9,000, just shy of our goal of 9,500. We’ve received new components such as the ribbon cables mentioned in previous updates, and are waiting on additional electronic parts to produce more Lockitron circuit boards. We’ll keep everyone updated as to how this impacts our shipping schedule.
As promised in our last update, your Lockitron dashboard should now be up to date with our estimate for your shipping timeframe. Folks who used to be in the “April” batch should see their Lockitrons this month or early next. The “May” batch has been divided across this Fall from September-November.
Upcoming Bug Fix - Bluetooth Activities
Folks who have received their Lockitrons may have noticed something a bit quirky - lock and unlock commands sent over Bluetooth are currently reported in the activity log as “by hand”. This is the same activity log that we use to report when the state of Lockitron has been changed by hand or physical key.
In our next firmware update we will be passing up data about the keyholder who carried out the action over Bluetooth. This fix means Bluetooth and web lock and unlock commands will report the correct user carrying out the action, an important feature especially if you would like set up different triggers for users using Lockitron’s APIwebhooks.
Bluetooth Update: What’s the holdup!?
Over the past six weeks we’ve been working on, testing and finalizing a major Bluetooth update across Lockitron’s firmware, Android and iOS apps. The firmware and Android apps are production ready and waiting to head out the door.
After beta testing and debugging our iOS app, we are currently awaiting final approval from the App Store to release our new build. Besides updates to our Bluetooth protocol that make communicating with Lockitron rock solid, this build includes new status dialogs and solves a few bugs.
Why does everything need to be released at once?
The firmware on Lockitron can only accomodate one version of the Lockitron Bluetooth protocol which means that the moment a Lockitron is updated, the Android and iOS apps need to also be able to speak that new protocol. We’ve taken the precaution to ensure that the Android and iOS apps will still communicate in the old Bluetooth protocol as well as the new protocol to ensure the transition is as seamless as possible.
Lockitron v2 API Publicly Available
The Lockitron API (application interface) allows for complete control over your Lockitron in a secure fashion outside of the Lockitron app. This means that partners we’re working with like IFTTT can add Lockitron functionality directly to their apps (i.e. lock my door when I turn off my lights). We recently launched version 2 of our API and it includes a few new parameters that allow for more control over the new Lockitron. These parameters include:
- Handedness: set Lockitron’s handedness; this is whether or not Lockitron locks or unlocks when turned clockwise.
- Sleep interval: set a custom sleep interval for Lockitron in seconds (careful - anything below 1800 will significantly impact battery life).
- Update AVR firmware: update Lockitron’s primary firmware to the latest version
- Update BLE firmware: update the firmware related to Lockitron’s Bluetooth connectivity (note - if your device is missing a license key, updating the BLE firmware will unfortunately not help; contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re having Bluetooth connectivity issues)
- Cancel Pending Requests: if you’ve sent a pending request to a Lockitron that is sleeping, you can now cancel that request before Lockitron wakes up.
We’re also looking at including the ability to calibrate your Lockitron through the API including turning Lockitron further and with more power. If you’re having issues with how far Lockitron turns today, let us know and we can get you set up with our beta calibration settings page.
We’ve passed a milestone as backer 7,500 will have their Lockitron shipped this week - this is on track with our goals from our last update. This marks the halfway point through our original campaign orders from October 2012!
We’re now pleased to share revised estimates for when Lockitrons will head out the door for our later backers. Based on our assembly and shipping progress over the past two months, these estimates factor in the timely replenishment of our component stocks such as ribbon cables and circuit boards. We’re working to get these estimates into the Lockitron dashboard - in the meantime we’ve included notes on what your current estimate indicates about when your unit will ship.
- March Estimates: Complete! If you’re in this batch and haven’t received Lockitron yet, check your inbox for emails concerning address or payment information that needs to be updated.
- April Estimates: We’re presently working through April estimates which will take us past backer 12,000. We expect to complete April estimates in roughly four to five weeks (thus April estimates are now “August 2014”).
- May Estimates: The first May estimates should begin shipping in September and continue through October. We will work on updating these estimates in the dashboard to reflect which month you can expect your unit in (“September 2014 or October 2014”).
If you were not part of our original crowdfunding campaign or don’t have an estimate listed in your dashboard then your order will be heading out in October (after those with May estimates).
A Better Fit for Your Deadbolt
Over the past few months we have been playing with alternate formulations for Lockitron’s adapter insert. This is a tricky process. Too soft and Lockitron cannot get a firm enough grip on your lock, too firm and the rubber insert may create a braking force which makes your lock difficult to turn.
Our new insert formulation has been developed to be more pliant and flexible. With the newer, softer composite, Lockitron is able to fit on a wider variety of locks and drive with more force without jamming than with our previous model of insert.
In a previous update we made 3D insert models of the rubber insert available fordownload and customization. If you would like to print a version of the rubber insert that conforms exactly to your deadbolt’s knob, this is the best option. Alternatively, you can easily trim the included rubber insert using scissors or pliers to best match you deadbolt’s knob.
Lockitron at DEF CON 22
Every year, the world’s best and brightest hackers take refuge from the scorching Nevada sun at the Rio resort in Las Vegas. This involves a week of conferences starting with Black Hat and culminating with DEF CON.
Should you find yourself in Las Vegas this week, come visit the TOOOL and Wireless Village workshops were a few members of the Lockitron team will be bouncing back and forth. Who knows, if you’ve got the skillz to hack the planet you may just walkaway with a Lockitron to boot…
Follow us on Twitter for whereabouts or just to give us a shout!
Backer 5,500 will have their Lockitron shipped this week, just shy of the 6,000 we were working towards (which we will be queueing to by the end of the week).
We recently received replacement components from our factory in China for units which previously failed quality control tests due to easily solvable failures such as noisy gearboxes or poorly crimped battery box wires. These parts will allow us to continue building more units while we wait for another component which was delayed for two weeks, the ribbon cable between Lockitron’s switches and circuit board. We’re working to ship to backer 7,500 by our next update.
New iOS Build in the Works
Along with the new Bluetooth protocol that we discussed in the last update, the Lockitron iPhone app will be getting a few big updates in the next release - here are the details:
- New Bluetooth Stack: The new iOS build includes our brand new Bluetooth stack, mentioned in the last update. This new version will ensure that your device consistently and reliably connects to Lockitron.
- Cancel Pending Requests: If you’ve unintentionally sent through a pending request to lock or unlock your door, you will now be able to cancel it before completion.
- Fix Contact Bug Crash: Seen with users who have more than 700 contacts who are trying to invite guests, this latest build of the app solves the problem.
- Firmware Update Information:When Lockitron is updating its firmware (and non-responsive to remote or local commands) the iOS app will now display a progress dialog.
We’re working to beta test this build now and submit it to the for App Store approval later this week. Our current build of the Android app already includes a number of these features and will be upgraded to include the Bluetooth stack changes as well.
Replacing Your Deadbolt? Match Your Hardware
In our last update we asked folks to drop us a line if you had not received a Schlage deadbolt - it turns out it was quite a few of you. We held off on shipping a number of units because of something we’re really excited about: you can now more closely match the Schlage tapered deadbolt to the finish of your door. We now offer nine finishes including traditional ones like Polished Brass and Oil Rubbed Bronze.
If you previously added a Schlage tapered deadbolt to your order but have not yet paid for the lock, simply head to the Lockitron Dashboard and select “Add” (head to our support page for more information). The order confirmation email and payment information for Schlage tapered deadbolts is managed outside of your dashboard, so make sure to keep this on hand. If you’ve paid for your unshipped Schlage deadbolt but would like to change the finish, let us know and we will help make the change.
We expect a lead time of 4-6 weeks for these deadbolts, however, we still have Satin Nickel deadbolts in stock. The new finishes of deadbolts are $39 including free shipping within the United States. You can now also order as many Schlage tapered deadbolts as needed if you would like to match your hardware across several doors.
Want Your New Deadbolt to Use Your Old Key? Here’s How
If you purchased one of our tapered Schlage deadbolts, there is a good chance you can make it work with your current house keys provided your old locks are Schlage or Baldwin brand. A quick way to check compatibility is to try and insert your old key into the new lock. If you can’t insert your old key at all then you are out of luck, however if it goes in (but fails to turn) than any Home Depot or Lowe’s can “rekey” your new lock to work with your old keys for a flat fee of about $5.
The process is very simple, an employee at the store removes the tumbler from the lock casing (shown above), replaces the pins with ones that are compatible with your old key, and checks that the lock turns smoothly. You will need to provide the store with your new lock, the new keys that it came with, and your old key you would like them to match it to. You should be in and out in about 10 minutes.
The Lockitron to our 4,000th backer will be heading out this week and we’re queueing more orders from the April batch. After isolating a few more quality control issues we’re hoping to pick up momentum towards backer 6,000th in the next couple of weeks. Our latest QC procedures include extra checks to ensure screws on Lockitron’s faceplate aren’t overtightened as well as verify the battery box is properly terminated to Lockitron’s circuit board.
Missing Your Schlage Deadbolt?
If you ordered and paid for a Schlage deadbolt that hasn’t shipped yet, drop us a line. We’re working to identify orders where deadbolts have not shipped out. Based on our current order queueing system, the tapered deadbolts and Lockitrons will arrive separately for most backers. We are working to ensure you get your deadbolt first so you don’t have to wait to set up your Lockitron.
Update on Lockitron Calibration
We have successfully been testing the Lockitron calibration page with a number of our users. This page allows you to calibrate your Lockitron to turn further or with more power if you are having issues. We will be adding this page to the Lockitron web dashboard soon, however, let us know if Lockitron is having trouble turning your deadbolt and we can get you set up with it right away.
The last few weeks we have been rewriting major portions of the Lockitron firmware and our mobile apps for a better Bluetooth experience. A recent Android app release added a small Bluetooth icon in the bottom corner to indicate when the app successfully connects to Lockitron.
Our v2 Bluetooth protocol has been built from the ground up to be far more consistent in connecting Lockitron and the mobile apps as well as more reliable once connected. This means Lockitron will work always connect instantly when you’re within range.
If your unit is having trouble with Bluetooth out of the box, please reach out - we would be more than happy to help; typically a quick firmware update will solve the issue.
A Note on WiFi Connectivity
The folks at Electric Imp, the company that provides WiFi connectivity for Lockitron, are working towards an update that should help when Lockitron’s WiFi chip has a problem and disconnects unexpectedly. This can lead to issues where Lockitron’s state becomes out of sync with what’s reflected in the mobile and web apps. If you’re having trouble setting up WiFi, take a look at our WiFi troubleshooting video; if your Lockitron doesn’t seem to respond to WiFi commands consistently after being set up the first time take a look at our WiFi help page.
We’ve included a sneak peek at Lockitron’s upcoming Sense functionality. We’re currently testing Sense in-house with a special test app before integrating it directly into our iOS and Android apps.
Our upgrades to Lockitron’s Bluetooth protocol are required before Sense will work consistently - stay tuned for more details on Sense in the coming weeks! The video below shows Sense triggering Lockitron on a Nexus 5 running our test app in the background (and in Cameron’s pocket!).
If you would like a variant of Sense today, reach out and we will get you set up with the preview IFTTT channel where you set up a geolocation trigger for Lockitron.
A typo in our last email promised our update a bit earlier than our usual Thursday newsletter, however, we’ve made great progress and are glad to send out the news sooner. We recently shipped Lockitron to our 3,000th backer and we’ve queued more orders from the April batch this week - we’re working to queue our 4,000th backer within the next week or two. If you’re in the March estimate and your unit hasn’t shipped, send us a message and we would be happy to help.
More Moxie for your Loxi(tron)!
Out of the box Lockitrons arrive calibrated to turn most locks with enough force and with far enough to fully lock or unlock. Some deadbolts (like certain Kwikset models) may need a bit more torque to turn faster or to turn a bit further. We’ve been working on testing these new calibration settings for the past several weeks as well as building a new support page to walk you through setting them to the right levels for your specific lock.
After some helpful feedback from initial users, we’re releasing Lockitron’s calibration settings in beta - we still need a bit more help to ensure the support page works as expected. If your Lockitron has trouble turning or doesn’t turn all the way drop us a line and we can walk you through the new settings. We are working on a backlog of support tickets at the moment, so if you’ve reached out previously about your Lockitron not turning far enough and are waiting for a response, hang tight and we will get back as soon as possible.
Lastly, if you have any trouble during the set up process of your Lockitron we’re happy to coordinate a time for a phone call or Facetime call to quickly diagnose what’s going on. We’re working to keep our FAQ pages up to date with as much information as possible, however, sometimes it’s easiest for us to take a look at your lock, whether throw photos or video.
Hot Off the Presses: New Android App
Thank you to everyone who helped us test multiple builds of the Android beta app. We’ve added a few awesome new features and solved quite a few bugs in the process.Today we were incredibly pleased to deploy version 2.1.0 (build 17) of the Lockitron Android app to the Google Play store. This update includes:
- Controlling Lockitron over Bluetooth Low Energy (no knocking to send commands when in proximity, known to support Nexus 5, Nexus 7 and Galaxy Note 3)
- A new support page with the ability to reset Lockitron’s WiFi settings
- New messaging about when Lockitron commands are anticipated to go through
- Bug fix that was causing Lockitron to crash when running with “ART” enabled
- Information on when Lockitron is performing a firmware update
If your Lockitron is not connecting over Bluetooth Low Energy, take a look at our FAQ page on Bluetooth or download an independent Bluetooth scanning app to see if your Lockitron’s Bluetooth is working correctly. Support may need to help with a remote firmware update to your Lockitron’s Bluetooth module if the scanner app is unable to detect it.
For both our iOS and Android apps we’re making good progress on Sense as well as additional notifications. We have a new iOS build in testing that includes bug fixes as well as additional status messages.
Since the beginning of the year we’ve pushed out over sixteen firmware updates to improve battery life, add connectivity and drive Lockitron with more control. Our latest one should help with a number of issues we’ve been seeing around “handedness” being improperly set after an update (whether your Lockitron turns clockwise to lock or unlock) as well as the state reported after Lockitron has been sleeping or reset.
We’re working on stability improvements for Lockitron’s Bluetooth Low Energy to ensure that both the iOS and Android apps connect quickly and consistently. These improvements help pave the way for Sense as well aid with more intelligent power management (that means better battery life!).
The last few weeks have seen a lot of progress at Lockitron HQ and our assembly facility. We’re closing in on completing our shipments for folks with the March estimate and moving onto those with the April estimate. Make sure to verify that your lock is compatible with Lockitron before your unit ships.
With every batch that we ship out we’re fine tuning our quality control, creating new procedures and test fixtures where we’ve seen issues. March backers - hang tight if you haven’t received your unit, it will be heading out very soon; April backers, you’re up next and should see queueing notifications over the next several weeks; May backers, we’re making a lot of progress and will keep you posted on when we can give you a firm estimate.
For our backers with units waiting on our upcoming calibration settings, hang tight. We’re currently building the last portion of our web interface and expect to release it very soon. If you have a pending support ticket open for a lock that doesn’t unlock or lock quite right, we will follow up once available. These settings should help with non-Schlage locks as well as those with extra play or are a bit sticky to turn.
Android Bluetooth Low Energy Beta
We’re thrilled to announce that we now have a beta build of the Lockitron app with Bluetooth Low Energy! If you’re one of the folks on our developer and beta list, then you should have received an invite to the beta at the beginning of this week. While this build doesn’t include Sense functionality just yet, it does mean that Android users with Bluetooth Low Energy won’t need to knock to wake up their Lockitrons when sending local commands.
Additionally this build brings the Android app to feature parity with our iOS app including new sleep and update notifications as well as a link to our support section.
If you aren’t on the developer and beta list, sign up and we will get you set up with the beta link.
This is big step forward - for both iOS and Android users, Lockitron will now respond instantaneously to your local commands, paving the way for Sense integration in both apps. For iOS users we have an update in the pipeline and are currently testing a beta build as well, stay tuned!
Help Us Test IFTTT Integration!
We’ve been working with the fantastic folks over at IFTTT to integrate Lockitron as a channel. IFTTT (If this then that) is a fantastic service that lets you carry out actions in response to triggers. For instance, you can use IFTTT to send you an email anytime Lockitron is unlocked. Or you can use it to link with other connected devices like the Belkin Wemo and Quirky Spotter. Every time Lockitron is locked you can make sure to turn off your Belkin Wemo-connected lamps. IFTTT has an incredible number of triggers and actions including social services like Twitter and Facebook as well as generic ones like time of day, SMS and even weather!
Our IFTTT channel isn’t public yet, however if you would like to test it (with a real or virtual Lockitron), drop us a line and start creating awesome Lockitron+IFTTT recipes.
Shipments of Lockitron’s are now heading out on a regular basis - a set of recently queued up units are leaving our fulfillment house tomorrow to be followed by another batch next week. We’re keeping a close eye on our new fixes which were put in place to prevent Lockitron from jamming. Based on the feedback from these fixes as well as feedback from our early backers, we’re now working on giving you more control over how quickly (or slowly) Lockitron turns as well as how far you need it to turn for your type of lock.
We’ve made a few changes and continue to add docs over at our FAQ section. If you haven’t already, make sure to verify that your lock is compatible with Lockitron before your unit ships.
More power, more control
The Lockitron team has been spent the past several weeks calibrating the speed and force with which Lockitron turns. We’ve iterated on our firmware, solved a number of bugs that cropped up, and ultimately developed an entirely new module to control how Lockitron locks and unlocks your door.
Behind the scenes we’ve been working with customers to test this new code which was targeted at ensuring that Lockitron delivers a consistent amount of power regardless of battery chemistry and wear.
Based on feedback from this testing, we’re working a new feature that lets you control how much force Lockitron turns your lock with. This new setting will let you increase (or decrease) how much power Lockitron applies to your lock. While our default algorithms should work well out of the gate, this setting will give you additional fine tuning when needed.
We’re also taking a big step in exposing an additional setting that will allow you to vary how far Lockitron turns your lock. Depending on the brand, age, or wear of your deadbolt, you may need to turn it past the typically 90 degrees most deadbolts are spec’d at. While we’ve had a rudimentary version of this setting in place for the past few months, the improved version allows for an increased range of rotation (or less, depending on your deadbolt) and we’re now putting this control directly into your hands (so you don’t need to wait for help through customer support).
We’re thrilled to provide a product to you which we can make better day by day. We’re working to expose these settings in the Lockitron dashboard next week.
We’re building a new interface in the Lockitron dashboard to let you control precisely how much power your Lockitron should supply when locking and unlocking, as well as how far Lockitron needs to turn for your specific lock.
Bluetooth from the Ground Up
While we haven’t talked much of the technical nitty gritty about how Lockitron’s electronics work, there is one piece that we put quite a bit of effort into to ensure that we can upgrade Lockitron well into the future.
During our PCB development and layout phase, we ensured that each of Lockitron’s independent microcontrollers could be updated remotely (we talked briefly about this with respect to our Lockitron flashing rigs). The microcontrollers in Lockitron can be thought of as purpose specific control computers that handle functions like Bluetooth and WiFi, as well as how fast (or slow) Lockitron turns.
Recently we learned that a batch of early circuit boards had their Bluetooth module mis-programmed in the factory. Typically this would be catastrophic in the embedded world; units would have to be returned for reprogramming using specially designed cables and dongles. We foresaw the need to update all of Lockitron’s components over-the-air, including our Bluetooth module. As such we’ve been able to successfully reprogram Bluetooth modules in shipped units, 100% of the time, right from the comfort of Lockitron HQ.
If your unit has any trouble with Bluetooth out of the box, take a look at our support documentation on Bluetooth or let us know and we would be happy to help.
Update on our mobile apps
In our last update we discussed how we’re adding information about how long Lockitron takes to carry out a remote command as well as display when Lockitron is being updated. We’re internally testing a new build of the iOS app with these features in place and plan to release this to beta testers and the App store soon.
While we were hoping to get our Bluetooth Low Energy beta release out to Android users quickly, we encountered a few problems which made it less stable than our current build. If you haven’t already, sign up for our mobile app betas on our developer mailing list.
How do you plan on Lockitroning?
Based on the fantastic feedback we received from our last survey, we’ve created another one this week. We promise it won’t take more than a minute or two. Take a look athttp://lockitron.polldaddy.com/s/how-will-you-use-lockitron.
In addition, make sure to check out the Lockitron installation and troubleshooting videosbefore setting up your unit.
The past month we’ve been hard at work solving the jamming problem described in our previous updates. With this update we have some good news - we believe we’ve solved the worst jams that were preventing lock and unlock operations by hand.
We’ve sent out a couple of beta firmware builds to units that are currently installed, and the results are promising. Lockitron should now still be operable by hand or key in the case where it is unable to lock or unlock your door all the way (or tries to go too far).
We will be working through the weekend to further verify the update as well as collect more data from current users who have the new firmware installed. The great news is that we are resuming shipments, however, to ensure that our new firmware doesn’t hit any snags we are ramping up shipments rather than shipping out our entire stock (2,000+ units) at once. If you’re in the March shipping estimate, keep an eye out for your queued up email.
Deploying New Firmware Updates
An early proof from our sticker supplier shows off a new reminder now included on all packaging. The latest update improves reliability and battery performance in edge cases.
The new update does a number of things differently than earlier versions of Lockitron firmware. Where previously we would drive Lockitron’s motor at full force between various known ‘states’ (Locked, Unlocked, Neutral), we now carefully modulate how much force Lockitron uses to transition from one state to another. This is a delicate balancing act with a number of variables in play. Too little force and Lockitron fails to rotate your lock, too much and it can seize up when jamming against your door frame. To further complicate matters, these parameters need to be adjusted to be compatible across a broad range of lock types and need to be re-adjusted as the batteries slowly drain.
The past month of dedicated study resulted in a new software Lockitron ’ECU’ module, a concept borrowed from the world of automotive engineering. To control Lockitron’s power output we sample various sensors to determine battery chemistry, voltage levels, lock stiffness and recent activity. We map these values to a pre-computed lookup table and optionally perform a few modifications on the result based on lock type. The table itself was generated by sampling a large number of locks on various ranges of sticky doors and using some basic statistical methods to calculate a happy operational median. From this table, Lockitron determines how fast it should turn your knob in order to complete a Locking/Unlocking operation successfully without irrecoverably jamming itself.
The result of all this work is a ‘smart lock’ considerably more sophisticated than earlier mechanical pin and tumbler designs. Where traditional locks rely on the mathematical equivalent of matching a five-digit pin in the form of a key with another five digit pin in the form of a series of tumblers, your Lockitron comes with a cryptographic co-processor, an analog differential equation solver, and a dynamic statistical modeling tool!
Some locks rotate clockwise to lock while others rotate counter-clockwise. Similarly, jams that occur when locking are treated differently than those found when unlocking. Factors like these (along with battery chemistry, voltage levels, lock stiffness and even when Lockitron was last used) combine to yield surprising complexity in recovery logic.
Battery Life and Notifications (part 2)
In our last update we mentioned some of the additional notifications we were working on. One of the most critical of these is our low battery notification.
We’ve just released the first version of this warning message and will be fine tuning it over the next week to work with different battery chemistries. The low battery notification should give you enough time to change your batteries before Lockitron stops and is unable to turn your lock.
In addition, we’ve been working hard on bringing much more information and control to your Lockitron from our API and mobile apps, including:
- Information on when Lockitron is updating (and the ability to restart the update if it fails during this step)
- Exact information on how long Lockitron is “sleeping” for when you send a remote command over WiFi
- The ability to cancel all pending lock and unlock commands which may have sent by accident
- WiFi network strength and connection quality
Make sure to sign up for our developer mailing list where we will keep you posted as new features become available.
Help Us With a Quick Installation Survey
We could use your help with a quick survey about your installation plans for Lockitron. We promise it won’t take more than a minute or two - take a look athttp://lockitron.polldaddy.com/s/installing-lockitron.
In addition, make sure to take a look at the Lockitron installation and troubleshooting videos before setting up your unit.
We’ve been heads down on making sure that Lockitron locks and unlocks consistently without jamming. In this update we wanted to take some more time to explain the scope of the bug and our progress in solving it.
A quick recap from our last update - after shipping out a number of units, we learned that Lockitron was prone to jamming unexpectedly even when correctly set up. This issue is critical to fix as it can block you from unlocking or locking your door by hand.
Last year we described the challenges we encountered as we designed, redesigned, tooled and modified our gearbox. In the process we spec’d Lockitron to use a very high quality custom motor that could supply ample power. We knew that a powerful motor would help us to correct for manufacturing flaws that might increase friction as well as ensure that Lockitron was powerful enough to close sticky doors (this was a common issue with our v1 Lockitron units from 2011).
A machine rapidly wraps copper wire around the core of a motor at our factory (the motors shown here are larger but less efficient than the model we use in Lockitron).
The first version of our software that controlled Lockitron’s motor was incredibly simple: we would deliver as much power as possible to drive Lockitron clockwise or counter-clockwise until a sensor switch was tripped. We added more sophistication to this once we began shipping units at the end of last year, however, under certain boundary conditions Lockitron would hold itself in a jam position for far too long or attempt to drive with too much force past a stopping point.
Besides damaging Lockitron’s gears, this would also jam Lockitron in a locked or unlocked state.
Thanks to the use of statistical modeling tools, Lockitron now has a significantly more sophisticated approach to determining how much force we put into locking or unlocking actions. This is a fine balancing act - too much power and Lockitron jams - too little and sticky doors won’t lock. Voltage, battery chemistry, manufacturing variability, lock type, and wear levels are now all taken into account to determine how much power Lockitron’s motor delivers. The first day you set up Lockitron it is more prone to jam; the fresh lithium batteries we ship with simply output far more power than off-the-shelf alkalines that have been in use for a few weeks.
One of our test rigs that forcibly jams Lockitron - this was originally designed to verify the integrity of the gears but also helps to simulate when Lockitron gets jammed in locked or unlocked positions. The woodblock with an exposed screw is a removable shim.
The new approach addresses this issue amongst others. We are still working on dynamically delivering the right amount of power when Lockitron needs it by expanding our data set. Once we conclude initial testing on this solution we will send it out to initial backers and integrate their feedback into anticipated bug fixes.
We’ve continued to assemble, build and box units since our last update. Once our solution is in place we anticipate shipping out all of the units with a “March” estimate (we’ve assembled and built several hundred more units adding to our inventory) in a single batch and updating April estimates accordingly.
Lockitron, WiFi and Bluetooth
There’s been a fair amount of confusion around how Lockitron operates over WiFi (with good reason - we haven’t clarified as much of this behavior in the app as we would like).
A little back story on WiFi - when we originally announced WiFi, the power consumption estimates presented to us by potential WiFi suppliers were roughly 2x-5x lower than what we’re seeing in various real-world scenarios. This meant that with a little bit of sleep we could wake up Lockitron’s WiFi pretty often. However, when we started working with the folks at Electric Imp we learned from them this simply wasn’t the case for a number of reasons and we’ve had to dial back how often Lockitron connects via WiFi.
That said, Lockitron doesn’t require a knock for a command to go through. Commands executed remotely will be carried out every time Lockitron wakes up according to a fixed schedule. The current apps make it appear as if a WiFi command will not go through if the device is not awake.
We are working on making the amount of time Lockitron takes to check-in dynamic based on a number of factors. If Lockitron has trouble connecting to your router, this can cause it to miss check-ins.
The good news, however, is that connecting to Lockitron over Bluetooth Low Energy is always immediate. This is implemented in iOS and we are now preparing our first Android beta release with Bluetooth Low Energy support. We are building notifications to inform you when a command is queued up over WiFi and how long it will take to complete. These notifications include the case where someone knocks on the door to make WiFi commands go through immediately. Lastly, we are working on more sophisticated power management in our firmware (and awaiting updates in our vendors’ firmware) that will allow WiFi to remain on for longer periods.
In addition to that we are developing a feature that will allow you to control the sleep interval through our API. We need to be very careful with this as it’s possible to run down batteries very quickly, however, our goal from day one with Lockitron has been to build something open where users could control and modify as they see fit.
So to recap, Lockitron will wake up it’s WiFi in the following conditions:
- A door knock
- A manual lock or unlock by hand or key
- On bootup
- On a regular interval
- On Bluetooth command
Additionally, if you send a WiFi command to lock or unlock Lockitron, the device will remain awake for two minutes thereafter. With all other wake scenarios, Lockitron will take a look for queued commands, then shut off immediately.
Battery Life and Notifications
One of the notifications we are working on at the moment is when Lockitron’s battery is running low. This is a simple feature that should have been in place a while ago, however, until our recent motor issues we hadn’t taken the time to properly characterize Lockitron’s battery life.
Lockitron will continue to send and receive commands even when the batteries run very low, but it will not have enough juice to lock or unlock at the same power level, thus making it tricky to know exactly when the batteries are going to die. The initial low battery warning likely won’t be perfect but will be tailored to give you enough time to change the batteries.
In addition to this we are making some changes to Lockitron’s default sleep behavior that will make a big impact on battery life.
Lockitron’s V2 API
A sneak peak at our v2 API - if you want more information we will be following up with developers on our Developer mailing list soon, so make sure to sign up for a first look.
With Lockitron, you can instantly grant family, friends and guests access to your home or business from anywhere in the world using your internet enabled smartphone. For $179 and no monthly fees you can order a Lockitron that fits over your current deadbolt lock and can be installed in seconds.
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