Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for December 11, 2013

‘The future of the padlock is here’

Gord Duncan has a first, and he’s about to see who’s willing to invest.

By Chuck Tobin on December 11, 2013 at 4:03 pm


Photo by Vince Fedoroff

LOOKING TO LOCK UP FUNDING – Gord Duncan of Total North Communications, seen here Tuesday, has developed and produced a prototype lock which opens with a smart phone. He is now looking for financing to put the lock into production.

Gord Duncan has a first, and he’s about to see who’s willing to invest.

The longtime Whitehorse resident and his team have developed TEO, a keyless padlock which is locked or unlocked using a smart phone or other Blue-Tooth device.

Want to let your friend use the cabin for the weekend but you’re out of the country?

Just send the keyless app electronically, he explains during a press conference held late Tuesday morning to announce the launch of the product.

If you don’t want your buddy using the cabin after the weekend, Duncan says, you can time-out his access through the app.

TEO, he says, is handy.

“I don’t know how many doors I’ve taken off their hinges because I’ve lost the keys,” says Duncan who describes himself as a bit of an inventor and tinkerer type of guy.

He says statistics produced by the insurance industry indicate the average Canadian has nine keys on their key chain, three of which they have no idea what they’re for.

TEO’s commercial applications are endless, says the president of Total North Communications. He developed the product under a separate company, but with the assistance of Total North employees and other local and Outside firms.

Take a security company responsible for a number of industrial plants, or a company managing a yard full of storage containers. No need for a bulky ring of 200 keys.

A keyless padlock operated by a smart phone would be a natural for Northwestel Inc. and Yukon Energy, which have employees visiting different sites all the time, says communication advisor Amanda Leslie.

In fact, says Duncan, the commercial sector will be the initial target for sales.

Duncan has submitted his product to Kickstarter, a crowd-funding Internet site, in hopes of raising at least $165,000 to bring his product into production.

Kickstarter is expected to let Duncan and his crew know this week whether they’ve fulfilled all the requirements to have TEO – transferable electronic operation – posted on their website.

The team members are confident they’ve met all the obligations, including the production of a professional video shot recently in Vancouver featuring Ashley Hunking, originally from Teslin.

Duncan says Hunking’s involvement was entirely coincidental.

The videographer who hired her, he points out, didn’t even know she was from the Yukon until she met Duncan and graphic designer Mike Rice, who were down from Whitehorse for the shoot.

Duncan and his team, including a Silicon Valley company which specializes in military hardware, have been working on the prototype for two years, ever since Duncan returned from a vacation with a new idea bubbling in his head.

He and his family were in Costa Rica, driving around in the middle of nowhere, when Duncan looked to the car keys hanging on a carabiner.

“I am deathly afraid I am going to lose these things because we are going to be in a world of pain,” Duncan says in the opening of the video.

“I thought wouldn’t it be great if you could lock this carabiner, and it kind of morphed from there.”

Duncan points out how TEO still functions something like a carabiner, though it’s been carefully designed to accommodate all the common uses.

“We went through a gazillion iterations to get here.”

The video features Hunking using it to secure her bike on the streets of Vancouver. There’s a shot of a student using a smart phone to unlock a school locker.

At an initial price of $79, Duncan says, the market in the beginning will be the higher-end user, though there will be an opportunity in time to move into other markets with a less expensive TEO.

He says using a crowd-funding site like Kickstarter to raise money provides the team with three distinct advantages.

Of course, it allows Duncan to raise money.

It also enables the team to gauge public reaction to the product as well as open a window to the possibility of attracting corporate interest.

The technology behind TEO is currently under patent protection awaiting final patent approval, he explains.

Kickstarter prohibits contributors from earning an ownership interest in the product through the on-line campaign.

Rather, the company promoting the product is required to return a gift for each contribution.

Under the TEO proposal, for $89, the “pioneer” level, Duncan will provide a TEO.

At the “prospector level” of $112, contributors will receive a TEO and a package of coffee from Bean North Coffee Roasting.

For $1,001, Duncan will ship them a TEO with a poke of gold locked onto it.

The maximum investment of $8,000 earns the contributor an airplane ticket to Whitehorse to meet with Duncan and his team – the thinking being if they have $8,000 to contribute, they might be looking for a bigger piece of the pie.

Total North vice-president Josh Clark points out the Pebble Smartwatch generated more than $10 million on Kickstarter from nearly 70,000 contributors.

On the other hand, if Duncan doesn’t raise the full $165,000 in the 60-day time frame they’ve set, he doesn’t get a cent, and everybody gets their money refunded.

For private business purposes, Duncan says, he doesn’t want to disclose what he has invested so far, nor does he want to discuss how much above the $165,000 is needed to bring TEO into production.

But he insists if he gets the $165,000 – or more – TEO would be rolling off the assembly line by the end of next year.

If he doesn’t hit the target, he says with a laugh, he’ll have the most expensive Christmas gifts ever, referring to the three prototypes sitting in front of him.

“This is a Yukon story, and I could not have done this without the backing of Total North and the fellows that work here.”

Duncan and his team will host a public launch of the product Thursday afternoon at Total North’s shop off Tlingit Road, behind Yukon Salvage.

“The future of the padlock is here,” says the video.

CommentsAdd a comment


Dec 11, 2013 at 5:00 pm

A search on GOOGLE will show that he is not the first to the gate with this project.

north of 60

Dec 11, 2013 at 5:28 pm

A new tool is allowing criminals across the world to break into cars without leaving a trace…The new device ... sends an electromagnetic pulse through a car’s key area to unlock the vehicle.


Dan Johnson

Dec 11, 2013 at 11:35 pm

As part of the Tnc team I can’t tell you how many hours I spent trying to find a padlock utilizing smartphones.  Kevo and others have done door locks for houses, bitlock and lock 8 have done bike locks.  There are currently zero padlocks available. Gords had a team of around 10 people involved for over two years and believe me the investment would have stopped had there been a product….type in smartphone padlock and see where you get.

B. Foster

Dec 11, 2013 at 11:49 pm

A search of Dec 11 comments on this story will reveal two equally pointless submissions.

Give ‘em hell Gord! Good luck!

Bob Graham

Dec 12, 2013 at 8:24 am

I have an electronic door lock which requires a pin to open! The PIN can be changed by me anytime! No need for an App or Smart Phone!

Been there, done that

Dec 12, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Dan Johnson said:
“Gords had a team of around 10 people involved for over two years and believe me the investment would have stopped had there been a product…”

Dan, this isn’t the first time TNC has tried to (re)invent something.  15 or 20 years ago they tried to reverse engineer talking signs (low power FM transmitters)  That project involved many people and many more hours than this current one and will likely end up in the same place….nowhere.

Also been there, also done that

Dec 12, 2013 at 4:11 pm

This has Total Point written all over it….BUT I’ll be the first to eat my words if he proves me wrong. Seems like a genuine good idea….until something better and cheaper sneaks by and destroys his business plan.

Dan Johnson

Dec 12, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Been there done that
You never know if you’ve hit a home run unless you try.  Also, if you want to chirp it’s a little more respectable to use a real name instead if hiding behind a pseudo.

B. Foster

Dec 12, 2013 at 5:10 pm

@ Been there, done that….

Where ya been? Whata ya done? How’s that goin’ for ya?
Kills me when people denigrate somebody’s good efforts under an alias.
Interesting that you would point out TNC’s efforts of 20 years ago…and here they are today still fighting the good fight.
Interesting huh?

John Danson

Dec 12, 2013 at 5:56 pm

@Dan Johnson
Real names?  Buahahahaha.
How do I know YOU are who you say you are?  I don’t know anyone named Dan Johnson and if I did would that automatically make your opinion have more value than anyone elses? Sorry but nope.
I’m entitled to my opinion based on my experiences, you don’t have to like it.

Curt M

Dec 12, 2013 at 6:07 pm

“I don’t know how many doors I’ve taken off their hinges because I’ve lost the keys,” says Duncan
Times I’ve had to remove the hinges from a door because I lost the keys in my 40+ years:  ZERO

Also, you would have to somehow lock yourself INSIDE your house to even have access to those hinges.
This product has long ago been invented, here is one such product from 2009: 



Dec 13, 2013 at 11:54 am

Looks like a cool product, one suggestion to Gord, Dan and the rest of their team: it would be great to get this product integrated into one of the existing bluetooth lock apps, ie Kevo, so you don’t end up having an app for your house and another for your pad locks. Would probably help with uptake of the product as well as its already a bit of a know quantity. Good luck with it though!

Yukon techie

Dec 14, 2013 at 10:20 am

@curt m ... The product is a padlock , nothing to do with door locks that space is already occupied by kevo, lockitron, August ....this seems unique. Good stuff for the Yukon

Also been there, also done that

Dec 16, 2013 at 7:08 am

Mr. Johnson is a bit touchy with the negative comments ....that being said, at least people are talking about it….and it IS a cool idea….for me, it’s the poster boy you’re using that have I an issue with.  Plain and simple!

are you kidding?

Dec 16, 2013 at 1:32 pm

I think some of these comments are disgusting.  God forbid anyone invent anything and advertise it locally.  We should be proud of locals and not bash them.
By the sounds of it, this is a NEW product.  I would imagine that they would do their research before going public with it.
Just be proud of them and move on.  Like they say, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”.

Brant Torgerson

Dec 16, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Hey Gord, great idea!!! Have you thought about taking your idea to a major padlock manufacturer such as Master Lock? That would eliminate the need to raise funds and put the “hard work” in someone else’s hands all the while collecting a royalty. Good luck!!

Will M

Dec 16, 2013 at 3:10 pm

These days it seems like an urban myth that Yukoners support local! It’s all about slagging off people that go public with their ideas. It’s as though Yukoners are afraid that other Yukoners might be successful. Be nice to each other, if it’s a good idea and advertised right it will be successful, if its not then it won’t! Good luck guys! Great idea and cool looking lock!


Dec 16, 2013 at 5:32 pm

The guts of this sounds like a a radio controlled servo, nothing new here folks, this technology has been around for decades. 

Angela L.

Dec 20, 2013 at 10:30 am

To you negative souls out there..
It’s creative thinkers and innovators that make the difference in this world. If your frail little ego can’t stand their enthusiasm and success, maybe you should keep it to yourself. Merry Christmas!

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