In a previous blog titled “Automating Door and Window Access,” I wrote about my desire to automate the opening of my sliding patio door to let our dogs in and out during times when we are away from home. I was able to achieve this with the installation of a unique system called Wayzn, which is an electro-mechanical device that mounts to one’s sliding patio door. It is connected to our Wi-Fi and has an app that enables me to remotely open and close my patio door from anywhere in the world, so long as I am connected to the internet. When combined with Wi-Fi-based cameras and associated apps, I can see our dogs no matter what town I am in, speak to them and let them in and out of the house. I also have an automated treat dispenser to give them their favorite treats at specific times of the day. I can honestly say that I have two happy dogs who love life in the Plavecsky household! Lately, with the addition of smart locks on my entry doors, I have once again been pondering the future of “smart technology” in the window and door industry.

It all started with smart locks. Since their inception, smart locks have emerged to provide efficient and easy-to-use solutions, first in commercial applications but more recently in many residential environments. Increased security concerns are a significant factor in the rapid adoption of smart locks around the world. With growing use among construction projects across North America, the smart lock industry has experienced rapid growth, mostly due to an increase in commercial installations. But smart locks are also rapidly gaining popularity in residential applications and the technology that exists today is just the “tip of the iceberg.” Much more is coming soon. When connected to a “smart home ecosystem,” a smart lock is one of the most prominent parts of the connected home.

In a previous blog, titled “Ramping Up Security on the Home Front,” it was noted that the five most common points of entry for home break-ins are front doors, at 34%, first-floor windows (23%), sliding back doors (22%), garage doors (9%) and basements (4%). Surprisingly, most of the unwanted front door entries are made by simply turning the doorknob and walking right inside, because people just forget to lock their front doors. Smart Locks solve this problem since they can be programmed to lock automatically each time the door is closed.

According to Grand View Research, the global smart lock market was estimated at $1.95 billion USD in 2022 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.6% from 2023 to 2030. “The emergence of growing technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) are expected to boost the adoption of smart locks in the forecast period,” the firm’s analysts state. “Smart locks are being increasingly accepted around the world and sought after by consumers due to their ease of use and security features especially in areas of accommodation and hospitality.”

Now automated entrance systems have long been popular for enabling automatic opening and closing of any entrance mechanism, like sliding gates, swing gates, barriers, rolling shutters, safety doors, auto glass doors and roadblocks. Such systems can be fully automatic or semi-automatic. In a fully automatic system, microwave sensors are employed to detect the motion of vehicles or people to initiate automatic opening of the entrance. Photocells are used to prevent closing of the entrance in the event that an obstruction is encountered. These automated entrance systems are a combination of security application and a visitor management tool rolled into one.

But there is a trend developing. Identification management by way of electronic access control is no longer reserved for just the perimeter of a facility. Innovative solutions using intelligent Wi-Fi and real-time wireless make it easier and more affordable than ever to extend access control to more doors and more applications, including windows. One can use these technologies not only to improve the safety and security of the facility or home, but also to improve the user experience, and provide valuable data and insight. If you have ever rented an Airbnb, you can see firsthand how it impacts the convenience and security of your experience. One does not have to worry about potentially losing the key when you are on vacation or worry about theft due to extra copies of keys that may exist.

It all begins with the selection and installation of smart locks. So, what exactly defines a “smart lock?” A smart lock is an electromechanical lock that is designed to perform locking and unlocking operations on a door when it receives a “prompt.” The prompt is created by an electronic keypad, biometric sensor (fingerprint or iris scan), access card, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi signal from a registered mobile device. These locks are called smart locks because they enable the use of advanced technologies which make possible three major advantages:

1. Easier access for users;
2. Identification of persons to whom you wish to grant access; and
3. Enhanced security from intruders.

The main components of the smart lock include the physical lock, the key (which can be electronic, digitally encrypted or a virtual key to provide keyless entry), a secure Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection, and a management mobile app. Smart locks can also monitor access history and send alerts in response to the different events that are being monitored as well as other critical events related to the status of the device. Smart locks are just the beginning and can be part of an even more sophisticated and integrated system that establishes a “smart home.”

Can smart homes be designed to control the opening and closing of your windows as well? Absolutely. And if you are a doubter then just check out the article titled “Advanced Window Control” by Philip Milner, a mechanical engineer who minored in mechatronics. For those of you who have never heard of mechatronics, it is “the technology of combining electronics and mechanical engineering.” This article is fascinating, as Milner lays out the details of how he automated the opening and closing of his windows to minimize his HVAC cost, by programming the windows to automatically open when the outdoor air happened to be cooler than indoor air, closing them when the opposite was true. Milner was able to minimize his AC costs while bringing more fresh air into his indoor environment.

So, as we near the opening of the upcoming Glass Build America show, hardware and window options that incorporate mechatronics and biometrics are something to be on the lookout for, as these exciting technologies have the potential to bring door and window technology to the next level. Up until now, the term smart windows and smart doors have mostly been used in connection with windows and glass doors made with switchable glass. Smart glass, also known as switchable glass, dynamic glass, and smart-tinting glass, is a type of glass that can change its reflective properties to prevent sunlight and heat from entering a building and to also provide privacy.

This additional technology shall be included in the next generation of smart, so I hereby dub these Smarter Windows and Doors!

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