Large Image Display:Chrysalis: Optical Door Locks


Chrysalis is a very dark French film. It aired in 2007, and has two versions. One, in French, conveys the original intent of this cyberpunk-themed film noire movie. The other, in English, hams it up ridiculously.

We would always recommend procuring the French version of this film - with subtitles - to take in the original intent, and to avoid the urge to switch the TV off. The film itself is at times mediocre, at times brilliant. However, it is as a rich breeding ground to visual examples of potential uses of VR and related technologies that the film truly shines. In each case, it cannot help but pause and contemplate the social and legal effects of such.

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With all the high technology solutions in Chrysalis, you would think they would run out of practical ideas to share eventually. After all, it is only an hour and a half of film, with action, intrigue and fight scenes interspersed throughout.

Yet even in the closing half hour, they still manage to introduce novel ideas that would actually work.

This one, is a very different method of locking and unlocking your front door than we are used to. There is no key and no key hole. Instead, what there is is a retinal scanner embedded in the door at roughly peep hole height. The door doesn't need a peep hole, as, as was shown earlier in the film, there are unobtrusive (and often downright hidden) CCTV cameras pointing at most home doors.

So, instead of a peephole, you have this on the outside. On the inside, the door locks and unlocks manually, as it works on the assumption that once you are in, you are authorised to be there. Its getting in in the first place, the door regulates.

The scanner's operation is simple. Walk up to it and like a PIR it activates, sensing movement nearby and lighting up. Look uinto the light without brinking for a second, and it reads your retinal pattern, and matches it against records in the house's central brain of authorised persons.

If there's a match, the door unlocks itself and pushes ajar invitingly. It doesn't open fully, but then there's no need to. Why waste power when the human can do the rest?

If there's no match, well, there's no keyhole to pick, and no visible lock mechanisms. Short of drilling the door or breaking through a window, you are out of luck.

Obviously this system could not be used currently, as biometric retinal identification methods are still a ways from 'always accurate'. It is not exactly helpful to lock the homeowner out, with no way of getting back in because the doors don't recognise their retinal pattern.

Still, that is a problem being actively dealt with across all biometric devices, and one which we already know is solvable, so it is only a matter of time before such locks really will start appearing on areas best kept secure. Unlike a key fob for security access, its hard to accidentally lose an eye.


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