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31 October, 2006 - 11:29 By Staff Reporter

US giant buys into Essex company's Fort Knox-style lock technology

Hi-tech lock company, Servocell has signed a deal that could help it crack the US market.The Harlow based company has penned a contract with Master Lock Company of America to develop and test market “an innovative range of electronic locks for their core business in the United States.”

Master Lock is the leading padlock and locker lock supplier in the US. The first phase of the project, according to the new partners, is to build a demonstration system that will be used to quantify the market potential and ensure that the final product specification meets customer requirements.

Servocell's shares rose 6.8 per cent to 55p following the announcement.

Simon Powell, CEO of Servocell said: "We have been discussing a variety of applications with Master Lock for some time, and this project will hopefully be the first of several innovative products based around our technology."

Servocell has developed a low-cost, low-power electromechanical lock which lends itself to use in a bicycle lock or filing cabinet as much as a shipping container or prison door.

Servocell has cunningly updated the same basic technology that makes a quartz watch tick – the piezoelectric effect. Piezo materials are those, like quartz, that change their shape slightly when a voltage is applied.

Servocell’s Active Latch technology employs piezo ceramic actuators to engage and disengage a locking mechanism – and here’s where the real innovation comes in – activated by an incredibly small electrical current.

The first phase of the project is expected to be completed in early January 2007.

This project has been commissioned using Servocell's Proof of Principle

Prototype (PoPP) programme that was introduced 3 months ago to help speed up negotiations with potential customers and partners. The customer pays a modest fixed fee for the prototype designs, with Servocell granting licenses to the customer on any new patents generated.

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