Will Unlocker make waves?
CARLSBAD, Calif.--Advanced Bridging Technologies has released a new product it's promoting as a "huge paradigm shift for the industry." The Instant Unlocker is a portable device that allows residential security system installers to instantly reset an alarm panel's installer code without having to unhook it or reprogram it.
"We're basically re-programming the locked codes stored in the panel and getting to them via the microprocessor," explained Jeremy Deal, Advanced Bridging Technologies manager. "We re-program the locked codes to 9999 from whatever they were before." Deal said the device is intended to save time and money for dealers who encounter, say, a new customer who has moved into a home with an existing security system. "In the event existing equipment was locked out," said Deal, "now a dealer can get new accounts without installing new equipment."
"It reminds me of, years ago, when we used to use round-barrel key locks on the panels," said Lisa Prosser, owner of full-service security firm General Alarm, based in Indianapolis, when asked about the potential utility of the Unlocker. "The Coke machines had round-barrel locks, too, and the vending machine industry created a tool that was universal. It looked like a screwdriver that would go into the round-barrel key lock and open all the machines. Great, right? Well, the problem was that it also disarmed systems."
Prosser said General Alarm does encounter the problem "where somebody moves out, and somebody moves in, and they call General Alarm because they've used General Alarm in the past." She said General Alarm contacts the previous dealer and about 50 percent of the time, the dealer provides the installer code. The other half of the time, General is, indeed, forced to put in new panels and touchpads, "or, if it's more universal," she said, "we'll just change out the motherboard." Of course, she said, when a customer becomes dissatisfied with an alarm company and comes to General, the cooperation isn't very likely from the previous dealer.
Is there a possibility unscrupulous alarm dealers could use the device to "steal" accounts and entice customers to break monitoring contracts? "I think if it's been created," said Prosser, "it will be used, by either legitimate or non-legitimate users."
Deal understands the concern, but said, "This isn't designed to get people out of their monitoring contract ... A monitoring contract is between a homeowner and their monitoring service. The Unlocker is intended only for unlocking panels where there is no current monitoring contract in place. A homeowner or business under contract with a monitoring service is financially obligated to fulfill that contract, whether or not their alarm panel is locked out."