What is a Smart Locker and what are the types of Smart Lockers on the market?

What is a Smart Locker?

Simple school lockers, gym lockers, swimming pool lockers, end of trip lockers and office lockers have been used for decades to provide a secure space to create peace of mind for users. Thus, lockers have been a critical amenity provided in public and private spaces. Although traditional lockers have posed many issues for management and users. Key and mechanical code based lockers required considerable administration time dedicated to allocation and distribution. Then users were required to maintain a key or code. Smart lockers have transformed the experience for both users and management, creating flexible locker systems, seamless access methods, and visibility over usage.

That is where smart lockers have been able to innovate over the years, providing intuitive capabilities to a simple amenity. Through technology, smart lockers have upgraded traditional lockers in many ways and we’ve seen continuous innovation within the space.

Comparison and Evolution of Smart Lockers

Over the years, smart lockers have evolved to become smarter, to fit the needs of both management and users of lockers. We’ve broken down the evolution of smart lockers on the market, including significant improvements and setbacks.

Smart lockers 1.0 - Digital locks on lockers

The first movement towards smart lockers came from digital locks. These digital locks could be installed onto locker hardware and maintain similar usability to a combination mechanical lock, although with one key innovation. The lock could be programmed to be either shared or fixed. This allowed for multiple users to use lockers rather than users being set a locker on a permanent basis, improving equity and asset optimisation.

Whilst digital locks improved flexibility within locker use, users would take advantage of the system and hoard lockers, with no way for management to see which lockers were being used, for how long and by who.

Smart lockers 2.0 - Computerised smart lockers

Smart lockers evolved to use computers to power and enable access through new methods, either by entering in a code onto a central screen or tapping a swipe (RFID) card onto a reader that was programmed to provide access to specific users of the card. This significantly improved usability especially in set user scenarios such as workplaces and schools.

The use of computers to power lockers would also open the door for management software, allowing managers for the first time to know which lockers were being used and for how long. This increased the security and experience for managers significantly.

Although these systems were hard to install, being heavily wired with on-premise physical servers and had license based software, meaning the software could not be updated, leaving these systems quickly outdated.

Smart lockers 3.0 - Cloud-based, integrated smart locker systems

Innovation continued to push the boundaries within the smart locker space to improve the usability, security, implementation and time-saving capabilities of smart locker systems.

Intuitive ways to book and access a locker were developed, including digital methods such as an app, webpage and touchscreen kiosk, allowing users to open and manage their locker, and open up new features such as managing multiple lockers, team lockers and receive deliveries from parcel lockers. Integrations with security systems would continue to evolve and allow users to open their locker with not only their swipe (RFID) card, but also their mobile credentials e.g. smartphone, tablet or wearable.

The usability and power of management software has improved significantly, with innovative features released by Yellowbox. These features include methods to create a delightful experience and automate the user onboarding, locker allocation and communications processes, saving organisations FTEs worth of time. Integrations with active directory systems would drive automated onboarding and offboarding of users, and allow locker usage insights and data to be displayed on collated building intelligence software.

Leveraging advancements in server technology, cloud-based smart locker systems removed the need for on-premise servers and enabled the ability for the system to auto-sync and implement changes and improvements in the software. This would allow clients of cloud-based smart locker systems such as Yellowbox to benefit from the new features released every month, ensuring they have a system fit for the future.

For the locks and lockers, Hardwired smart locker locks have become easier to install, with more streamlined installation and setup processes developed, allowing for a more eco-friendly system which doesn't require battery replacements.

As designs for workplaces include lockers and cabinets that free standing (e.g. island banks), without access to power, wireless locks have also evolved to meet these needs. Yellowbox launched the first ever wireless smart locker lock system for organisations looking to install smart locks on locker banks without access to power e.g. island banks, or replace and retrofit their existing locker locks into a smart locker system. Organisations now have multiple lock choices now to fit any scenario and any locker.

Smart lockers have no doubt come a long way, in leveraging technology to continuously improve upon the capabilities, user experience, and ease of management and installation. To find out more about the latest smart locker technology, we developed a short video to show you how the latest locker systems work.

Yellowbox is a leading smart locker system provider, providing seamless locker access and management experiences to Fortune 500 companies and Multinational companies globally. Yellowbox has helped workplaces globally to understand how best to utilise their lockers, based on real insights. Chat to a locker expert today.