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Matrix Key System lets you change your locks without changing your locks

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July 16, 2010

The Matrix Key System lets you change your locks simply by inserting the next key in a ser...

The Matrix Key System lets you change your locks simply by inserting the next key in a series

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Most of us at one time or another has lost our keys and know the stress that it causes. Compounding things is the cost that comes with calling out a locksmith to replace all the locks on the windows and doors of your house. But what if you could change your locks simply by inserting another key? That’s just what the Matrix Key System designed by Australian locksmith, Stuart Webb, does. Inserting a new key into the lock effectively changes the lock, rendering the old key useless and saving the hassle and expense of calling a locksmith.

Standard pin-tumbler locks are the most common form of locks in the world. They use pins of various lengths sitting in narrow chambers. When the correct key is inserted the pins are aligned to allow the barrel to turn and the lock to be opened. With standard locks the pins within pin-tumbler locks are of a set length. Meaning that one key will always open the lock and changing this will require replacing the cylinder in the lock – which is what a locksmith does when they change your locks.

A conventional pin-tumbler lock (Image: Pbroks13 via Wikipedia)

How it works

Webb’s Matrix Key System uses an ingenious method to allow the length of the pins to be changed by inserting a new key. Part of the pins are made from donut shaped discs of metal that sit in the bottom part of the chamber. Each lock has a series of keys – a typical set has between six and twelve keys but it could theoretically be more. When you wish to change the lock you grab the next key from the series, which will push some of the discs out of the way when it is inserted into the lock. These discs are then deposited in extra “spigot chambers” that are incorporated into the barrel when the new key is turned. Now the lock will only open to that key.

The extra “spigot chamber' incorporated into the barrel into which the discs are deposit...

The new keys must be used in a specific sequence. This is because each key in the series will have incrementally higher ridges so that one or more pins are pushed above the shear line (the space between the barrel and the rest of the cylinder) when the key is inserted. Also, when incorporated into master-key systems, like those used in motels, each room can be changed individually without affecting the master-key or other room keys.

The system is illustrated in the pictures below. The “Phase 1” key (with the red dot) holds all the discs below the ‘shear-line’ and will operate like this indefinitely, just like a normal lock. The magic happens when a “Phase 1” key is lost or stolen; then the “Phase 2” key (green dot) is inserted and the uppermost disc is lifted above the ‘shear-line’ into the top part of the chamber, and as the key is turned the disc drops into a special hole which permanently removes it from operation, thereby preventing the missing “Phase 1” key from operating. The ‘Phase 3’ key will disable the ‘Phase 2’ key, etc etc.

The inner workings of the Matrix Key System

Webb says his Matrix Key System can be adapted to almost any pin-tumbler lock, making it suitable for just about anything including doors, garages and padlocks. His invention caught our eye when it appeared on the Australian ABC’s New Inventors program. Since then he has received a lot of interest from groups such as retirement homes, schools and councils.

The Northern Territory Govt. are also looking to install Matrix Key System locks on public housing to solve the problem of changing the locks every time a new tenant moves in. They are currently conducting a 3-6 month trial on 50 housing commission houses and plan to extend that to 2,000 homes in the Katherine area for another 3-6 month trial after that.

With its potential to take a lot of work from locksmiths, Webb might have more trouble convincing them to sell his Matrix Key System, but it can be purchased in a number of different lock types, including padlocks and replacement cylinders for existing locks, through his website.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
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10 Comments

This sounds very similar to the Schlage 'Securekey' system:

http://securekey.schlage.com/Pages/Home.aspx

mikedaul
16th July, 2010 @ 07:02 am PDT

Already available for quite a while with Kwikset's SmartKey system. www.kwikset.com/smartkey

Facebook User
16th July, 2010 @ 05:52 pm PDT

I recently had two new keys cut at a cost of £4.00 each, therefore locksmiths in Oz should be happy to sell a 6 key system for say, twenty-odd pounds plus cylinder. No worries!

Terotech
17th July, 2010 @ 02:13 am PDT

that's kinda dumb then anyone could change the keys to your house????

Carl Feeser
17th July, 2010 @ 07:13 am PDT

The inventor has rediscovered what was invented in this country (US) in 1909. The discs were originally balls. In fact It was called "lost ball" technology. In fact it is now called "builders or construction keying" . This technology is used in just about every residential lock sold in America today. The builder has a construction master that is cancelled by the homeowners key.

Dexter began using donut shaped discs just like this in the 1960 and 1970. I think Medeco even uses them.

There are three major problems:

1) The donuts can drop unexpectedly locking out whom ever has a key.

2) the donuts can collapse jamming up the lock

3) Stacking donuts decreases lock security and allows for lock picking and key bumping.

4) You can't reuse old keys.

For a brief period we incorporated donuts into our lock with disastrous consequences.

FYI: Kwikset, Master Lock and Schlage now all have a rekeyable locks for residential applications.

- ViprLock

Prelogic
17th July, 2010 @ 06:22 pm PDT

The Kwikset and Schlage locks require special tools & cylinder designs. Matrix is adaptable into any existing standard everyday cylinder; requires no end-user tools or training.

Carl...

There are 4.8 million different key combinations (per keyway). Each set of locks uses a select few of these combinations.

ViprLock...

1) Hasn't happened to the hundreds we've sold, nor the R&D cylinders that are still being cycle-tested from 2 years ago.

2) See 1.

3) Correct, in theory. To overcome this, Matrix uses highly accurate and pick/bump-resistant pins, plus if we're replacing 5-pin cylinders, we use 6-pin cylinders; and if we're replacing 6-pin cylinders we (will) use 7-pin cylinders.

4) Exactly!

Matrix Key Systems
19th July, 2010 @ 12:29 am PDT

That's why I have a fingerprint lock..you'll never get locked out of your house!

Ed
19th July, 2010 @ 12:03 pm PDT

Fingerprint locks are great (if you can afford the good ones), but not very compatible with padlocks, sliding doors, screen doors, rollerdoors, etc.

Matrix Key Systems is compatible with all.

Matrix Key Systems
20th July, 2010 @ 02:10 am PDT

USAUSAUSAUSA!!!!

Michael Kemp
29th September, 2010 @ 12:43 pm PDT

Like the invention do you have anybody representing your company on Guam. Please contact me with the possibilities ananich_jose@yahoo.com .

Facebook User
3rd January, 2011 @ 05:56 am PST
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