In Boston, Stanley’s opening new doors

Susannah Hamblin, a product manager, demonstrated a door opener at Stanley’s innovation center.
Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff
Susannah Hamblin, a product manager, demonstrated a door opener at Stanley’s innovation center.

In a freshly painted office in the South Boston Seaport, an engineering team from Stanley Black & Decker Inc. is dreaming of a world in which you’ll never again have to sully your hands on an unsanitary public bathroom door.

Best known for its consumer toolmaking business, the Connecticut company has its security arm working here to build an affordable device that’s capable of making almost any door open automatically when it senses motion.

The project is a key early effort for Stanley Security’s new innovation center at the Innovation & Design Building on Drydock Avenue. The company officially opened the center on Monday, part of a global effort to ferret out transformative technologies before competitors can.


“There’s a lot of companies, a lot of industries, that have been disrupted,” said Spencer Maid, a vice president at Stanley Security who is overseeing the center.

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“We don’t want our legacy of 175 years of bringing innovative products and solutions . . . to dissipate.”

The Seaport site is the 11th such property that the company has opened, but the center amounts to Stanley Black & Decker’s first physical location in Boston.

The company’s health care unit is in Waltham, and it has been increasing its visibility on the local startup scene. A member of its venture arm is stationed here, and the company has been partnering with the accelerator MassChallenge, which gives it access to the region’s crop of young companies.

Though the automatic door might not be the most exciting product that consumers use, it’s a key part of Stanley Security’s business, whose offerings include surveillance camera systems and health care safety equipment.


Though there are other companies making door-opening equipment, the team at the Stanley center says they’re bulky — perhaps running the entire length of a door — and can cost upward of $2,500.

On Monday, Stanley designers were displaying a compact device about the height and width of a shoebox.

They said it was developed in the space of a few months.

The target cost? $200.

Andy Rosen can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @andyrosen.