9 new technologies that keep you (and your stuff) safe.

Read about the other Best Of What’s New winners.

Never Lose Your Keys Again

August Home Smart Lock

The August Smart Lock unshackles your home from the tyranny of physical keys. The 3-inch cylinder fastens to the back of an existing deadbolt, leaving the outside appearance of your door unchanged. Once attached, a Bluetooth signal from your smartphone can flip the mechanism to unlock the door. A guest with a smartphone and an August app can enter once you’ve granted them access. No more passing out hard-copy keys, which are much harder to revoke—and easier to lose. The Smart Lock lets you pick days and times for guest entry, so the dog walker can get in only during lunch hours, or your weekend Airbnb guests lose access once their stay is over. If your guests don’t have smartphones, a Wi-Fi add-on allows you to buzz them in remotely. Plus, you can set the Smart Lock to bolt automatically every time the door shuts. And should anything fail, the old key still works. $229, plus $50 for remote connectivity

The App That Keeps Cops Safe

NYPD DAS Mobile: The App That Keeps Cops Safe

Relaying 911 information to cops on the beat—by radio—hasn’t changed in decades. But there’s only so much intel dispatchers can convey that way. This year, the New York City Police Department—the largest force in the United States—began sending ancillary data to some cops via smartphone. It’s the first police force in the country to do so. The app is secure, requiring a PIN code and an ID scan to log in. Cops get background intel on prior arrests and outstanding warrants at the dispatched address, or helpful details such as whether burglars typically enter it by the back door. For an officer on the street, such extra information can be lifesaving.

Hack-Proof And Shatter-Proof

Turing Phone: Hack-Proof And Shatter-Proof

With just a single port and waterproofing inside and out, the Turing Phone is designed to be indestructible. For the shell, the company uses an alloy dubbed “liquidmorphium.” Because the molecules in liquid­morphium are arranged amorphously, rather than in the rigid structure of metals, the alloy is less prone to bending or breaking. The software is designed to be indestructible too. While no system is truly hack-proof, Turing has made breaching their flavor of Android so computationally expensive that they think hackers won’t bother trying. And when users dial other Turing Phones, the calls are fully encrypted end to end—no third-party authentication necessary. $740

Smallest, Safest Anthrax Detector

BaDx: Smallest, Safest Anthrax Detector

Anthrax, a bacterial disease of grazing animals, can be a deadly terrorist tool. Now Sandia National Laboratories and security-technology company Aquila are making it simple to detect. They’re producing a credit-card-size lab-on-a-chip that’s akin to a pregnancy test: Inject a sample and wait a few hours for a line to appear. Because the test is portable, samples won’t accumulate in labs—which is a security risk. It will help ranchers around the world detect the disease in their livestock. Aquila, which is producing the tests in partnership with Sandia, began shipping units earlier this year and plans to adapt the technology for other bacteria like E. coli.

Get Your Stuff Back

Anti-Theft Dots: Get Your Stuff Back

Cops across the country have rooms packed with stolen items but no way of locating their owners. Anti-Th eft Dots fix that. Th ey’re tiny nickel disks with identifying numbers chemically etched into them that link owners and property through a database. Th eir adhesive glows under black light, alerting cops to their presence, and can be applied to nearly anything: laptops, watches, TVs, and bikes. By year’s end, 2,000 police forces nationwide will support them. $33 per kit, which can mark 50 items

A Freakin’ Hoverbike

Malloy Aeronautics: A Freakin’ Hoverbike

Mobility is a perpetual problem for soldiers on the ground, especially in the challenging terrain of today’s conflicts. Enter the hoverbike, a mash-up of a motorcycle and a quadcopter. Malloy Aeronautics has a working prototype, and this summer, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory contracted the company to test if the hoverbike could work for soldiers. Civilians might want them too: Malloy suggests it could find use among land inspectors and search-and-rescue teams.

Ears, Not Eyes, In The Sky

Drone Shield: Ears, Not Eyes, In The Sky

At the Boston Marathon this year, the DroneShield team worked with city police to deploy 10 detectors that listen, rather than look, for potentially dangerous airborne threats delivered by drone. The unit cross-​references audio it picks up with a library of drone sonic signatures, and sends an alert if it finds a match. DroneShield has installed its ears in the sky around office buildings, prisons, airports, and private homes.

Easy, Secure Messaging

Peerio: Easy, Secure Messaging

In our post-​Snowden world, secure messaging is ever more appealing. The standard encryption method is PGP, or “Pretty Good Privacy.” It uses several layers of encryption to ensure messages can be read only by the intended recipient. But PGP can be tricky to set up. Enter Peerio, which provides easy-to-use PGP-level encryption for messages and file storage. Just download the software, have your would-be communicants do the same, set up a secure pass phrase, and chat away. Secretly. Free

A Crystal That Detects Nuclear Radiation (No, Really)

Inrad Optics Stilbene Crystals: A Crystal That Detects Nuclear Radiation (No, Really)

Stilbene crystal is stable, safe, and glows purple—scintillates, technically—when it is in the presence of radioactive materials such as plutonium. Stilbene’s scintillating abilities were discovered in the 1940s, but optics manufacturer Inrad’s commercial version has just started appearing in prototype homeland-​security detection devices.
Kelsey D. Atherton
Kelsey D. Atherton

Kelsey D. Atherton is a defense technology journalist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His work on drones, lethal AI, and nuclear weapons has appeared in Slate, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, and elsewhere.