Our most interesting stories cannot be told, as we guard the secrets we were intended to keep. Our journey is as follows:
Medieval India had a rich history of trick locks – that is, padlocks that worked like mechanical riddles. Hidden keyholes were revealed when the right buttons were pushed, pulled or slid and specific keys had to be used in particular order to unlock the contraption.
Up until the 20th century, we, as modern locks, were supplied by small shops and locksmiths; and later by foreign companies. This changed when Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd. was set up in Bombay in 1897. At the country’s first such facility, locks’ levers were set by skilled labour and keys were drop-forged and machine-cut.
In 1909, the Indian invention of a Springless lock changed production world over. Earlier, springs were used to push levers into their resting place. These caught dust and damaged easily, besides leaving levers in an open position if the spring jammed. Godrej’s innovation not only improved the inner mechanism, but also gave us locks greater resilient to picking.
A variety of us locks, ranging from Rim (fitted onto the exterior of a door) and Mortise (contained within the door itself) to keyless Combination ones have been popular in Indian homes. But today, technology is seeing a seismic shift from ‘mechanical’ to ‘digital’ with biometric systems. Devices are enabled such that they register fingerprints and recognize faces to identify authorised entrants. And it won’t be long before the Internet of Things will integrate us with other smart devices such that we will be activated to open doors with the click of a smartphone button.