The list of things you can’t do with a smartphone grows smaller and smaller as time marches on, and one more thing to cross off that list is coming in May next year. A new device is scheduled to hit the market which will allow you to open your front door using your mobile device and a special app. Called Qrio Smart Lock, its crowdfunding page boasts that you can “protect your privacy with Sony security technology.”

…Yeah. The Qrio Smart Lock will sell for 10,500 yen (US$90) and if the buzz online is any indication, people couldn’t be more terrified at its arrival.

The device resembles other electronic door locks and fit over top a regular door lock, but it’s operated by a dedicated smartphone app that the user must install. Once the app is loaded up it turns the smartphone into a key which will open the lock. In addition you will also be able to grant other people entry at designated times through the app.

It may seem like a superfluous feature at first, but allowing others access to your home via your phone could be seriously useful. I, for example, hire a lady to enter my home five times a day while I’m at work to fluff my pillows. With this technology, instead of having to trust her with a key 24/7, I can get her to download the app to her own smartphone (pillow fluffing pays very well) and she can use it to unlock the door only at the times I dictate. This way she can’t enter my bedroom in the middle of the night and try to strangle me in my sleep like so many of my pillow fluffers have done in the past.

Perhaps lacking pillow fluffers of their own, online commenters were less than enthusiastic about the invention, especially since it is being jointly released by Sony, a company whose name hardly inspires the greatest sense of security right now.

“Sony? That’s a dangerous thing.”

“It should be easy to crack once someone downloads all the files for it.”

To be fair, Sony only has a partial stake in this device, 60 percent of which is owned by a venture capital firm out of Tokyo, World Innovation Lad WiL. Chances are they’ll be overseeing the security end of these locks rather carefully to ensure their end of the investment. Nevertheless many people still seemed creeped out by the prospect of a smartphone controlled door, regardless of the company behind it.

“I’m too scared to use it. A smartphone is fine for my TV or air conditioner but…”

“It’s like Watch Dogs.”

“Now, you’ll be even more screwed if you lose your smartphone.”

“This can only lead to trouble.”

Surprisingly only a few people brought up what seemed like the most glaring weakness to this idea: “What if your smartphone battery dies?” Probably every smartphone user has dealt with a dead phone on the road before, but when it becomes your only access into your house your troubles are considerably exacerbated.

On the other hand, depending on how the app works, you may be able to just borrow someone else’s smartphone and download a temporary key. In that way it would be as if everyone around you with a smartphone were holding a spare key making it perhaps superior to a standard metal one. Perhaps its ideas like this that have motivated hundreds to pre-order these locks through the Makuake crowdfunding site.

I’d be sold too if it’d just make a cool space ship door-type swooshing noise when opening. However for other more rational people, if their concerns have been addressed by Qrio’s design then we may be looking at the future of doors and an even stronger dependence on our phones well beyond the taking selfies and tweeting pictures of our dinner that I think they were originally designed for.

Source: Makuake, Asahi Shimbun, Sony Japan, WiL, Golden Times (Japanese)
Video: YouTube – Qrio Project