Skip to main content

5 eye-scanning door locks that will secure your home like its Fort Knox

iris scanners can lock and unlock your doors eye scanner door locks
Image used with permission by copyright holder
If you’re like just about everybody, you lock your doors with a technology that’s gone essentially unchanged since 1861. That’s the year Linus Yale, Jr. patented the pin tumbler lock. The Yale lock is a simple, effective mechanism that will likely still be around in another 150 years. But if you want to take your home’s access control technology up a level (maybe five or six levels), then it’s time to start thinking about iris scanning.

How it works

The iris, the ring of color around the pupil of each eye, is the most uniquely identifiable part of your body’s exterior (and much of its interior, for that matter). Most iris-scanning systems work by snapping a high-res photo of your eyes, isolating the iris portion of the image, then running that through a matching algorithm to see if you’re on the guest list. Like fingerprint matching, facial recognition software, and retinal scanning, iris scanning is a biometric technology that compares a person’s unique physical characteristics against a database to verify his or her identity. A positive match, or an “accept” in the tech lingo, can then trigger an event: the decryption of a top-secret document, the launch of a world-destroying weapon, or the unlocking of your bedroom door.

With a false-positive rate of just 1 in 1.5 million, the accuracy of a quality iris scan is bested only by a DNA sample.

With a false-positive rate of just 1 in 1.5 million, the accuracy of a quality iris scan is bested only by a DNA sample (which boasts an immodestly accurate rate of one in 800 trillion). The rate for fingerprints, by comparison, is a meager 1 in 10,000. And voice identification? A paltry one in 500. The cost of these biometric technologies maps pretty closely to their accuracy. If price isn’t a huge concern, iris scanning is the way to go.

It’s worth mentioning that iris scanning is similar to retina scanning, but it’s not the same thing. Retina scanning is an older technology that uses an image of the nest of blood vessels at the rear of your eyeball. Getting that image means waiting for the pupil to dilate and then shining a beam of light through it to illuminate the back of the eye before taking the picture. The accuracy is comparable to an iris scan, but who has time for that kind of hassle?

What you’ll need

If you’re still on board with locking down your pad like it’s Area 51, you’ve got some planning to do. You can’t just pop out the old deadbolt and insert your new scanner. Typically, you’ll also need a securing mechanism, like an electromagnetic lock, and, for the more complex systems, possibly a server running access control software. Then you’ll have to wire those components for power and integrate them together.

But let’s say know a guy so you’ve got that covered. The question then becomes, which iris scanner is right for you?

Locking down your home with eyeball-imaging technology is a pretty innovative move on your part. Right now, there aren’t many iris-scanning solutions designed specifically for the home. You might have to make do with some commercial-grade or military-grade tech. And that is awesome. So let’s get started:

KEES residential door lock ($989)

Image used with permission by copyright holder

At the ISC West Conference in April, Korea Technology and Communications (KT&C) announced the launch of Kees, a self-contained door lock powered by “Iris-on-the-Move” tech from SRI International. The slick and futuristic hardware is the closest thing out there to a residential iris-scanning door lock. And with an MSRP of $989, it’s also the cheapest.

eyeLock nano NXT ($TBA)

Image used with permission by copyright holder

After KEES, the most consumer-friendly iris scanner is likely to be the eyeLock nano NXT. With a beta launch this past June (which included a suggestion of its use in residential settings), the nano NXT offers simplified integration and two-factor authentication. With on-board memory capacity of up to 20,000 users, even the most massive entourage of approved peeps can drop by, and you won’t even have to get off the couch to let them in.

iCAM Entry Application Bundle with iCAM7101-TEC3 ($2,600)

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Another strong option is Iris ID iCAM 7101-TEC3. Designed specifically for access control in smaller buildings, it offers a slick interface, integrated device management, and a user-friendly touchscreen control. The company also makes a handheld scanner called the Iris ID iCAM TD100 ($1,800), which you can protect with a silicon rubber bumper — basically an OtterBox, only bigger. And more badass.

SRI International IOM N-Glance Modular System ($TBD)

Image used with permission by copyright holder

From there, things get way more expensive and complex. But if you’ve got the budget and temperament of Tony Montana, then check out the IOM N-Glance Modular System. It’s the most approachable technology from SRI International, an R&D organization that also develops counter-terrorism and border security systems. N-Glance is typically a whole-building installation, with scanners located at each entry point.

3M Cogent CIS 202 Dual Iris Capture Scanner ($TBD)

Image used with permission by copyright holder

But you just need one door covered? Then perhaps the 3M Cogent CIS 202 Dual Iris Capture Scanner is right for you. Looking like a set of boxy binoculars, this USB-connected unit is designed to support just about any application that calls for iris scanning. Use it to unlock your door, or use it to keep track of all the members of your new militia. Whatever. Just remember that it’s handheld, so don’t leave it in the room and lock yourself out.

Editors' Recommendations

Mike Llewellyn
Mike started out as a magazine editor, then handled communications for a series of tech companies. Today, he’s a freelance…
Simplisafe adds to its security repertoire with much-anticipated smart home lock
simplisafe smart home security lock launch

Simplisafe has been around for over a decade, founded by a pair of Harvard Business School students with good intentions, but their bread and butter has always been basic home security, although the company added functionality for the popular Nest thermostat a few years ago.

Now it looks like the company is jumping more fully into the smart home security market with a long-rumored new smart lock to complement its current home security products, and the company claims it is offering the world’s thinnest smart home lock. It’s going to sell at retail for $100 or so and for those who are hot for it, it will go on sale first at Simplisafe's website on September 15 before becoming an exclusive product on the physical retail market at Best Buy, where pre-orders will start on October 1 and the product is expected to land on store shelves by the middle of the month.

Read more
Amazon Memorial Day deal drops price of August Smart Lock for homes to just $99
august smart lock memorial day deal amazon featured

Smart home security systems are a great way to safeguard your home and ease the anxiety of unwanted visitors. While you may not be able to afford your own bat cave just yet, a smart lock is a strong starting point for your smart home security system. Now, in Amazon’s latest Memorial Day deal, you can score an August Smart Lock (3rd Generation)
for the low price of just $99,
down from $150. Lock in this deal now and start your summer off smart.

August is among the safest bets for smart home security, with the August Smart Lock 3rd Generation taking top honors in our roundup of best smart locks of 2019. Safeguard your home in just 10 minutes, with the secure, keyless entry offered by the August Smart Lock requiring just a screwdriver for a simple, DIY installation. Connect your smart lock to the August app to unlock an array of options, including the ability to control keyless access, lock or open your door, and monitor visitors. Grant guests entry at any time through the August app, and enable access for a few minutes, a few weeks, or any amount in between. For those slow to embrace smart locks, the 3rd Generation August attaches to any existing deadbolt, allowing you to continue using traditional keys. Some may say that’s missing the point of a smart lock, but when it comes to peace of mind, we here at DT say, to each their own.

Read more
Amazon Alexa’s Guard is a new security feature to keep your smart home safe
amazon alexa guard rollout echo mode feat

Smart home security is a really lucrative market but it looks like Amazon is getting ahead of the curve by rolling out a bunch of advanced home security features enabled by Alexa and available on Echo devices -- for free. The new platform is called Alexa Guard and it's now available for all Echo device owners, with no additional fee or monthly subscription. Amazon tells us that Echo owners can set up and enable Amazon Guard features almost instantly using the Alexa app.

Probably the most useful feature of the new security platform is a set of monitors that Amazon simply calls "Smart Alerts." Echo owners can simply issue the command, "Alexa, I'm leaving," and the digital assistant will switch the Guard feature over to Away mode. Once the device is in away mode, it listens for things like smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, or the sound of glass breaking. Once a designated event has occurred, you would get an alert telling you which type of sound was detected as well as an audio clip of the event.

Read more