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Tech Savvy: Wireless lock and key secures computer

Halberd is a Bluetooth proximity-based access control device that permits the user to leave their computer -- automatically locking the computer when they depart and unlocking upon their return -- eliminating the need for numerical PINs or passwords. Submitted photo1 / 2
Halberd is a Bluetooth proximity-based access control device that automatically locks and unlocks the computer based on the nearness of the portable device, which is about the size of a cigarette lighter and can be attached to a key ring or a lanyard, for example, and establishes a connection to the computer without a wire through the USB port. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch2 / 2

It's always been my belief that there is no such thing as too much security, especially when it comes to your electronic and mobile devices.

I'm glad that there is at least one company that feels the same, which has come up with a nifty way to lockdown or unlock a computer without requiring remembering passwords or PINs.

Untethered Labs launched its wearable access control device Halberd after the success of its predecessor, the GateKeeper, according to the Washington, D.C.-based company. Halberd is about the size of a cigarette lighter and is designed to be mobile with its full metal key ring.

"The goal for the Halberd was to make it the company's most durable and future-proof device to date," according to a press release heralding what some—particular those with short-term memories—may consider a minor miracle.

"As new software add-ons are built, they will be released throughout 2018 to augment Halberd's capabilities with Linux and Mac compatibility, machine learning, single sign-on capability and blockchain credentials."

OK, but what does that really mean for a computer user, which these days means almost anyone and everyone?

As someone who has been flummoxed, vexed and stymied by an aging mind to remember a myriad of passwords and personal identification numbers—to log into everything from a Facebook account to sending Tweets about, oh, Trump—the Halberd is a bit of a godsend.

The Bluetooth proximity-based access control device permits the user to leave their computer—automatically locking the computer when they depart and unlocking upon their return—eliminating the need for numerical PINs or passwords.

"Hallelujah!" I say. But you may say, "Say what? That's 'cray, cray.'" (Ask your school-aged children or grandchildren what that means.) ... But wait! What's Bluetooth, how does that work?

Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances using short-wavelength UHF radio waves from fixed and mobile devices, according to Wikipedia.

For example, most are familiar with certain applications of Bluetooth technology, such as a wireless computer mouse or hands-free headset paired with a PC and cell phone, respectively.

Halberd promises the same sort of connectivity. Installation involves plugging the nano wireless receiver that comes with the device into an available USB port on the computer to link it.

The real selling point (or should be) of Halberd, according to its developers Untethered Labs, is the wearable tech's ease of use while at the same time securing and safeguarding perhaps sensitive data left unguarded by an unlocked computer.

"Anybody who deals in sensitive documents will benefit from this device, as the alternative, the cost of modern data breaches, runs into the millions of dollars," according to the news release accompanying the availability status of the device.

Identity theft, hacking, spamming, etc. has—sadly—become part of the pop culture vernacular as more and more of us go online to socialize, communicate, shop and be entertained.

"Industries such as medicine, law, security, transportation and logistics will get a competitive advantage, as their competitors waste time, manpower, and put themselves at potential of serious and costly data breach," according to Untethered Labs.

Okey-dokey. I just want to make sure that my nieces and nephew don't accidently bludgeon my laptop keyboard with their toddler hands while I'm logged into, say,, and end up ordering, for example, a life-size plush elephant from China—shipped and billed to my account.

Information technology professionals, compliance officers, health care workers, police and technology enthusiasts can pre-order the computer key and lock system on Kickstarter. For more information about Halberd on Kickstarter, visit