- Key card lock is like any other lock, only difference being the usage of plastic cards instead of conventional mechanical keys.
- Key cards look very similar to our credit cards.
- Key cards are majorly used by hotels as a cheap and safe replacement to mechanical keys.
- Key cards hold a digital signature which is accepted by the door and gets unlocked.
There are two major/widely used types of these cards in Hotels.
- Mechanical hole based cards
- Magnetic stripe based cards
- RFID cards
Other rarely used types in hotels includes bar-code based card, Wiegand wire embedded card and smart card with microchip.
Mechanical hole based cards
This type of card was first invented by Tor Sornes and named it vingcard. This card had pattern of holes with 32 possible positions for hole location. These sums up to 232 combinations for keys. New Key template can easily be inserted into lock with a new combination for a new guest. Disadvantages with this method are mechanical wear and tear and human errors. To avoid this mechanical wear and tear, in early 80s LEDs were used to electrify these cards, which detected the holes.
Magnetic stripe based cards
These types of cards have embedded codes in the magnetic strip/stripe which can be sensed by a sensor in the lock. These codes can be directly fed into the lock or managed by a centralized system which sets codes for each lock in the building. Only the cards which have matching code in strip/stripe can be used to open the lock. Disadvantages for these types of cards are the possibility of the cards getting corrupt or the codes in strip/stripe getting erased due to mishandling. Another major disadvantage is that these cards depend on power and with power loss they cannot be used.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a modern day technology, which is used in hotel locks in a contactless manner. These are called as proximity RFID cards. Once the card gets in to vicinity of the lock, the radio frequencies are detected by the lock and the door gets unlocked. These radio frequencies are emitted by electronic chips embedded in the card. RFID based electronic locks are more secured and the cards cannot easily get damaged or corrupted. Other than hotel locks RFID technology is used in various other places like parking lots, toll booths, passport identification in some countries, etc.
Energy Saver options
Energy saving device is incorporated in every major hotels as an initiative for power saving. Key cards used to open the door locks has to be inserted into the device to switch on the power and once the guest leaves the room, the card gets retrieved from the device and power to the room is cut off.
Major players in this key card lock industry areVingcard and Xeeder. They offer various types of door locks and energy saver switches with various advantages and disadvantages to each of them.