LogoUA_regular_60x60Technology is a two-way street when it comes to security, and I’m not just talking about data security and intellectual property issues – modern technology presents a host of interesting challenges when it comes to protecting homes and businesses. For every new smart security system, there’s a smart criminal working to hack that system. The pros and cons of security-related technology may be best illustrated through one of the oldest and simplest tools – the key.

Researchers have discovered that 3D scanning and printing technology lends itself well to the reproduction of keys, and while that may be a helpful backup tool for those prone to misplacing their car and house keys, it’s also a helpful tool for would-be thieves. On the other hand, 3D printing can also be used to design keys that are un-copyable, such as the Stealth Key from Swiss company UrbanAlps. Designed by Alejandro Ojeda and Dr. Felix Reinert, the 3D printed metal Stealth Key hides its mechanical security features inside, where they cannot be accessed or copied with a scanner.

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Ojeda (L) and Reinert

The key is a great creation from a young startup that launched just a couple years ago thanks to support from the Venture Kick initiative. Now UrbanAlps has received an additional boost as a recipient of the 2016 W.A. de Vigier Award, a prestigious yearly award given to startups in Switzerland. Out of more than 200 nominees, UrbanAlps was one of five winners to be honored this year.

The majority of the winners came from the health care and research industry, including Nanolive, developers of the 3D Cell Explorer which allows for the non-invasive 3D examination and imaging of cells’ interior structures; Peripal, which designs solutions to simplify at-home dialysis treatments; and Pregnolia, creators of a tool that identifies the risk of premature birth. Agriculture was also represented through crop analytics provider Gamaya.

Stealth_Key_Video“For specific products, additive manufacturing is taking over the world. There is no better suited product than keys: each single key is different,” Ojeda told 3DPrint.com.

In addition to the prestige and publicity that come with the W.A. de Vigier Award, UrbanAlps has also received a significant financial boost with an award of 100,000 Swiss francs. This should significantly help the company with their upcoming product launch; they’re hoping to have the Stealth Key on the market sometime this year, likely starting with a campaign on Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Patents are pending for the key, and UrbanAlps’ goal is for them to be available in certain European countries by early 2017, if not this year.

After that, who knows what might be next for UrbanAlps? Their technology has won the approval of not only startup foundations but of experts such as, for example, insurance companies who have advised UrbanAlps that they’d be willing to adjust their rates for customers using un-duplicable keys. While the Stealth Key obviously doesn’t protect from burglars breaking in via windows, it’s a great measure of security against angry exes, unscrupulous employees, or other not-so-trustworthy individuals who may have access to your keys. Chalk up another point for security in the technological era! Discuss further in the Stealth Key 3D Printing Startup Receives Award forum over at 3DPB.com.

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