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Gatekeeper Chain key fob automatically locks your PC when AFK


February 5, 2014

The distance at which the fob will work is adjustable, meaning it can be set to unlock the computer as soon as you enter the room, or only when you sit down at your desk

The distance at which the fob will work is adjustable, meaning it can be set to unlock the computer as soon as you enter the room, or only when you sit down at your desk

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For some office workers the task of locking and unlocking their computer is a regular part of the job when heading AFK (away from keyboard), with the frequency often dictated by the extent of their caffeine addiction. Looking to automate this process is the team behind the GateKeeper Chain, a key fob with a built-in proximity sensor that automatically locks your PC when you walk away and then unlocks it when you return to your desk.

Measuring 20 x 36 x 5 mm (0.78 x 1.41 x 0.19 in) and weighing 4 g (0.14 oz), Gatekeeper Chain is compatible with PCs running Windows 7 or later, with Mac OS support on the way. Users attach the fob to their keychain and plug a USB lock into their computer which the two then communicating using Bluetooth 4.0.

The device uses a signal strength algorithm to track the key's location and AES encryption for security, which the company claims will ensure only each unique key can unlock its assigned computer.

Although the Bluetooth 4.0 connection provides a range of 100 ft (30 m), the distance at which the fob will work is adjustable within that distance, meaning it can be set to unlock the computer as soon as you enter the room or only when you sit down at your desk.

Additionally, GateKeeper could double as a tool to prevent lost keys, with the company developing a companion app designed to send an alert to your phone when they are left behind. The device is powered by a coin cell battery that is promised to last six months of use.

Initially, GateKeeper will be available in silver and black with additional colors to follow. The company has developed functioning prototypes and will launch on Kickstarter next week. Early pledges of US$25 are available, with shipping estimated for July 2014 if everything goes to plan.

Lead developer Stefan Giroux outlines the Gatekeeper Chain in the video below.

Source: GateKeeper Chain

About the Author
Nick Lavars Nick was born outside of Melbourne, Australia, with a general curiosity that has drawn him to some distant (and very cold) places. Somewhere between enduring a winter in the Canadian Rockies and trekking through Chilean Patagonia, he graduated from university and pursued a career in journalism. Having worked for publications such as The Santiago Times and The Conversation, he now writes for Gizmag from Melbourne, excited by tech and all forms of innovation, the city's bizarre weather and curried egg sandwiches. All articles by Nick Lavars

It is too simple to just push Winlogo L then just have an easy to type unlock password like loklok. Also it isn't mentioned what happens if the usb portion is unplugged. I think some sort of phone app connection via bluetooth would be more secure and a lot cheaper, like 99 cents.


If you work in a secure environment where frequent password changes are required, passwords that require caps, special characters, numbers etc., a wireless keyboard-free solution sounds nice. Per "Myfutureid" I like the idea of using the bluetooth in an iPhone but would still need bluetooth added to my PC. Either way it looks like a USB for someone like me. Tell me where to get the iPhone app (or tell me when you have it written and available) and I'll check it out.


Many laptop NICs come with built in Bluetooth capability, so the usb portion might not be necessary for many devices.


@Myfutureid, I agree with you. Unfortunately, there are many people who forget or otherwise just don't lock their PCs when they step away. While shortening the time for auto-lock helps, if the time out is too short, it gets really annoying, especially when your job involves working with physical equipment while reference material on your PC's screen. As for using a smartphone, not all smartphones nor all PCs have Bluetooth.

I am disappointed this device is MS Windows only (with OSX coming). A properly implemented HID device could accomplish the same.


Thanks for the comments guys. We did consider using the phone's Bluetooth (and there are apps available), but using the phone's Bluetooth consumes the battery. A lot! I personally hate that. Our goal is to provide ease of use and ensure privacy. As "ronw" mentioned, lots of people just plain forget to lock their PCs. Even people working in "secure" environments. We hope this also inspires people to better protect their privacy.


@ronw - OSX is coming! Soon! We are looking at HID device implementation for the USB lock to make it compatible with both Windows and Mac OS platforms. Since we are all accustomed to Windows programming - Windows application came first. :)


Another "product" chasing after a customer!! The key to success is to first find a need and THEN fill it, not the other way around! So what's to stop someone from cloning the signal like they do with car alarm systems or just plain boosting the fob? How will the computer be able to discern who should have that fob on their key ring and who should not? Some guy I that I used to work with is/was just plain wacko about security on the computers at his job with the power company. He had the machine in our garage set up where if there wasn't keyboard activity for 30 seconds, it would go to a password protected screen saver!! Then I would have to waste time by entering a password where there was really nothing to secure! Oooo, someone might find out how much hand cleaner and kitty litter we'd ordered that week!! Or how many sets of brake pads we used. That's a real target of industrial espionage for sure!! Like I said a real nut job! Did he really think that someone was going to be able to go into our section of the system and learn anything of value or do some irreparable damage while we were on shift?? Is it really that much of a problem over there in Cube City?? Oh, another thing was his fascination with having the computer make the beeping sound with each key stroke, which I was always turning off. Talk about a total geek.


Expanded Viewpoint

@Expanded Viewpoint: the customer needs are there.. and new are being discovered everyday.. we are getting calls about all the industry areas where GK-Chains can be used... and we are all excited about it.. We hope everyone locks their computer whenever its not being used.. its good practice and we are excited to help make it so :).


One of the biggest security problem in any environment is the USB port. For this to be really useful on a desktop the bluetooth would need to be an addon card and not a USB dongle which can be simply be unplugged. If the bluetooth on the phone consumes a lot of battery power how long will the battery in this device supposedly last ?


The battery will last 6 months.


Will this ever be available for Linux? A lot of people in corporate environments use that. And UNIX too.


Actually, a better question is, will the specs be published so an open source Linux driver can be written?


own a small computer store in Indiana,, very interested in marketing some of these devices, here at my store.. I also have additional question, and other business opportunities for you to consider.. 502-489-0993 Thanks Don Burris

Don Burris
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