The engineering building at Northern Illinois University was a hive of activity and innovation on…
DeKalb, Ill. — It’s more of a magical phrase, but throw in a bit of electrical engineering and “open sesame” becomes the key to a successful student project in the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology at NIU.
Repeating the phrase, a team of engineering students presented V.O.K.L., a Voice Operated Keyless Lock, during Spring 2018 Senior Design Day. Featuring 39 team projects, the competition challenges engineering students to put their classroom knowledge to work in the real world.
The team behind V.O.K.L.–graduates Daniel Lunk of Oak Forest (now living in DeKalb), Jacob Budnick of Richmond, Ill., (now living in DeKalb), Joshua Turovetz of New Lenox and William Moebus of Washington, Ill., (now living in New Berlin, Ill.)–emphasized the affordability of their voice-activated door lock.
Forget your keys? Can’t find them? Say, “V.O.K.L. Open sesame.” If your voice is programmed into the device, it will unlock your door.
With a retrofitted design, the device doesn’t require you to replace your existing deadbolt. Once you’ve programmed the device with your voice, you can attach it to the inside of your door with Velcro strips.
“So you can put it over any existing old-school deadbolt, and it will work,” Lunk said.
And, at around $88, the final design met the team’s goal of being less than $100. The group estimated the cost could be significantly lower with mass production.
Unlike other systems that require phone apps, V.O.K.L. doesn’t need anything else to operate.
“You just stick it on the door,” Moebus said. “Once it’s programmed, you don’t have to worry about it.”
With the team’s prototype responding about 80 percent of the time to pre-programmed voices, the lock shows promise as an affordable and convenient security option, the team found. V.O.K.L. could save people the time of fumbling for their keys, or provide easy access for someone like a family member or house-sitter.
“Kids can program a voice; caretakers can program a voice,” Lunk said. “The really big part of it was finding a way to have a secure, quick and easy way to open your door.”
Media Contact: Jami Kunzer
Northern Illinois University is a student-centered, nationally recognized public research university, with expertise that benefits its region and spans the globe in a wide variety of fields, including the sciences, humanities, arts, business, engineering, education, health and law. Through its main campus in DeKalb, Illinois, and education centers for students and working professionals in Chicago, Hoffman Estates, Naperville, Oregon and Rockford, NIU offers more than 100 courses of study while serving a diverse and international student body.