By Marie Chan, CID, ASID, GREEN AP
With the wild success of Nest, even mundane hardware like door locks and door bells are being endowed with ‘smartness’. The premise, or promise, of smart locks is to allow you to control access to your home without physical keys from the comfort of your computer or smart phone. Here is a rundown of some of the smart locks with the most buzz.
The stylish lock needs neither Wifi nor power, but uses Bluetooth technology to automatically unlock the door when you approach it with your smartphone and lock up when you leave. Leaving the street side lock undisturbed, the stylish circular aluminum locking device fits over the existing single-cylinder deadbolt mechanism inside the house. A green circular dot pattern shows when August is unlocked and red when it’s locked.
The August app can be used to send invitations and guests will be able to use the app to unlock your door during a specified time period. You can also be notified when someone unlocks the door, so you’ll know if and when out of town visitors have arrived.
As a backup should you lose your phone, or run out of battery, you can use the door keys the old fashioned way. Additionally, since the door is operated by the app, any smatphone with the downloaded app can be used to open the lock.
To enhance social engagement, the August app also includes a Guestbook function, which allows people to leave comments and photos for their guests or hosts. This can be a bonus for people with vacation rentals. Since the lock knows who’s entering the home, August can potentially be connected to other apps that trigger additional actions when the lock is activated! It retails for around $250.
Taking a separate tack, Lockitron uses a lock switch that fits over an existing thumb lock. The tradeoff is the ungainly appearance of the hardware. When the lock is activated, a motor inside its housing turns the existing lock. Similar to the August, the lock facing the street isn’t affected so keys can be used.
With Lockitron, you can receive notifications when the door is locked or unlocked by a smartphone or physical key. Like August, it has Wi-Fi compatibility with smartphones, allowing you to control your door from a distance and runs on Bluetooth. Additionally, for a monthly fee, it will accept text messages from users without a smartphone. It even has a built-in knock sensor to alert you when someone is at the door, though from some reviews, the sensor’s performance can be uneven. The smart lock costs $179.
Kevo is the first smart lock by Kwikset, a national brand. It’s a single cylinder deadbolt that works with Bluetooth technology. Until the inside edge lights up when the lock is in use, the Kevo looks just like any other Kwikset lock. When your iPhone (the Android option is pending) or key fob is close to the door, you can simply touch the lock to activate the hardware. Various LED patterns indicate operational status: rotate blue as you tap the lock, flash yellow to confirm locking, or green to confirm unlock. While there’s no WiFi support for remote control, you can grant temporary access via the Kevo app. And, of course, there’s always the option to just use the key.
Kevo comes with a key fob, physical keys and free encrypted electronic keys called eKeys. The ekeys are reusable and can be assigned to anyone for a specified period. For parties, an unlimited number of guest keys, good for 24 hrs, are free. The Kevo is available at $219.
The Goji lock is more of a home security device than just a lock. It allows you to see who’s at the door from your cell phone before letting them in. The device automatically takes photographs starting at a distance of 6 feet and pictures of visitors are sent to the mobile app, so you can see who’s been at your door by remote. Knocking or jostling the door triggers the embedded accelerometer, which causes an alert to be sent to your phone – via e-mail or text message – with the ‘mug shots’. Like other smart locks, you can give temporary access to others via the app.
Goji’s futuristic interface sports a screen that greets you by name as you arrive or depart, but the lock’s interior is similar to the Lockitron. The Goji costs $278, is available in silver, copper or gold finish, and comes with four digital keys as well as two physical keys. Fobs for the lock are extra.
Danalock comes in round or square designs. The lock is compatible with either Bluetooth or Z-Wave, with a version that works with both for maximum flexibility. Z-Wave is a low-power wireless communications technology designed for home automation. Having a Z-wave network at home allows you to unlock the door by remote.
Danalock works with your existing lock and provides the same benefits as others smart locks. A keypad and fob are under development. It can also be connected to other systems, making it a viable option for commercial use in business and hospitality applications. At $159, it is also one of the most affordable smart locks.
The smart lock technology is still in its infancy and many issues are waiting to be resolved. But keyless entry is the way of the future and in a few years we wouldn’t even know how we had managed without our smart locks!