Friday, August 11, 2006

Bics and bump keys: innovation diffusion

Innovation diffusion studies were popular in the 1980s. How do new techniques, new methods, move through a population? I don't hear much about it any more, perhaps because diffusion has accelerated substantially.

Crooks have quickly learned how to steal "theftproof" cars (manufacturers left "back doors" for mechanics and for internal use). A few years ago the internet had demonstrations of opening bike locks with a Bic pen -- a vast number of locks had to be replaced.

Now it's the household lock. The newest innovation in breaking and entry is the use of the (Future Feeder) � Bump key. A set of 9 or so specially cut keys, combined with a light hammer blow and a quick twist, will open the vast majority of household locks. The methods leaves no sign of entry, so you may simply discover your diamond tiara is gone -- but nothing else is touched. Might be hard to get a claim paid ...

New locks will come along. The interesting bit to me is the speed of diffusion. Car theft, lock picking, blowing up planes -- new techniques are deployed quickly.

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