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The Latest in Key Technology

The Latest in Key Technology


Have you ever wondered how keys work? Are you a key collector or amateur? If keys fascinate you, then this article is for you, because it has been written with you (the key lover) in mind.

It seems like keys are used by everyone in this century, but a dozen centuries ago, only the rich could afford the luxury of security. Nowadays, the security of our physical and intellectual possessions is a right (for everyone to enjoy), so we’re entitled to protect our personal (or private) property in a peaceful and lawful manner.

A key and lock are what sometimes stand between private and public, making the distinction clear to those who follow the law and respect their neighbour’s property.

But, these security mechanisms have evolved in the 21st century, into more complex devices that increase the level of difficulty for any burglar looking to “break in” your house, or your personal safe, or even a business, government office or bank.

So, what is a key, and how do they work to keep you (and your property) safe?

A key is a device that is used to operate a lock, consisting mainly of two parts: the blade and the bow. They have been used for centuries to open and close locks, which are one of the cheapest and most common security mechanisms on Earth. Each key is intended to only operate one specific lock, and that’s why each lock requires its own key. So, what are keys and how do they work? They function as a security token that will grant you access to the locked (secured) area, and only persons who have the right key can disable the lock and are granted access.

And, what is the history of keys?

History of keys goes back for a couple of millenias. These security mechanisms are inexpensive and ease to use made, and that has made everyone have at least one in their pockets to use on daily basis.

About 4000 years ago, in Ancient Egypt, the first models of keys and locks were created, based on wooden materials. This is a little-known fact, but the Egyptians were the firsts who managed to have domain over this technology (falling pins controlled the movement of security bolts). The Romans, however, introduced many improvements to the Egyptian designs, making them a symbol of wealth and nobility. Small keys made out of iron, bronze, silver, and gold were viewed as a way to publicly show everyone you were wealthy.

Also, what are the most advanced types of keys?

Restricted keys

Restricted keys are not common, and are not sold to everyone. Why? Because they are protected by a patent that prohibits other manufacturers to make unauthorized copies of the key blank. Customers must provide proof of ID before your locksmith can cut additional keys (using the restricted blanks), ensuring the original key owner a highest amount of security. These type of keys have special features, like magnets, special types of metal, or even tiny computer chips, and the purpose of these laid-in technologies are only to prevent key duplication.

Magnetic keys

A magnetic key & lock is a mechanism where the key utilizes magnets that will allow it to lock and unlock. Several magnets and different magnetic polarities are utilized to create thousands of different and unique combinations per key, that either push or pull the lock’s inner tumblers, so they can release the lock. It does not require electricity or electronics to activate or deactivate the locking mechanism, and that makes it a passive and safe security system.


A keycard is literally like a plastic credit card or a driver’s license. It has identical dimensions, which store a digital (or physical) signature that must be accepted by the door mechanism in order to disengage the lock. Different types of keycards and keycard technologies are: mechanical holecards, bar codes, magnetic stripes, Wiegand wire embedded cards, smart cards (embedded with an electronic microchip), and RFID’s. Keycards are mostly used in hotels, though. But very soon, by scanning your key with a smartphone, and uploading an image to a 3D printer, you can produce a copy of your key, which can come in handy when you lose your key. Your locksmith can use this 3D printer to copy your key for less than 10 Pounds.

Also, you can cut the key yourself, if you’re locked out of your home. In a very near future, you will be able to download a copy of your key (from your smartphone) and print it on your neighbourhood’s nearest 3D printer. But, the down side to key 3D printing can be that restricted (patented) security locks can be easily compromised by taking a digital photograph of a restricted key on a smart phone in order to print a “master” key.

So, there are inherent risks to these new key technologies. They can even be copied without the owner ever being aware. So, beware of not leaving your keys anywhere! They could be scanned & copied without you being aware of it.

That’s why we, at UK Locksmiths, provide our clients with the safest key & lock technologies, like digital locks and access control, so you can literally throw away your key, without worries!

With digital locks and access controls, an electronic digital or mechanical digital format can be programmed with codes up to 10 digits in length to give you more than 40,000 possible combinations. And, these digital locks can also be operated via smart phones, retina scans and finger print recognition technologies.

For more information on the latest key technology, or on safer key & lock technologies, visit us at or call us at 0800 193 1123. We will answer your call immediately, and get to your home or business in 30 minutes or less.



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UK Locksmiths are an emergency London locksmiths available 24/7, covering the whole of Central, South, North, East, West and Greater London. We offer a range of locksmith services including lock repairs and installation, as implementation of CCTV and intruder alarm systems. Our professional trained and certified locksmiths will endeavour to reach your doorstep within 30 minutes (traffic dependent). Furthermore, our locksmith rates start at a very affordable £49. So whether you're looking for a Camden locksmith, or someone to install a digital lock system in Hackney, we are always a safe bet with years of experience at affordable rates.